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Mar 31, 2024

"I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past." --Virginia Woolf

When Melodies Unlock Memory Reservoirs

Candy Cohn often would speak with her late mother, Lillian, in English, with a few words here and there in Yiddish. Then, one day, Lillian "started singing a beautiful Yiddish love song called Sheyn Vi Di Levone. 'I'd never heard her sing it. I never heard her play it. The look on her face and the joy. I hadn't seen that in her in a long time,'" Candy Cohn described to WLRN Public Radio. Cohn started playing a video of that very song. "It brought back so many memories for her," she noted. "She started telling me how she first heard it, what she was doing, and when she would sing it." Music can get encoded in the brain through an episode of our lives; the trigger of a song from one's youth can unlock a storehouse of experiences from that same time. Tino Negri, who's brought interactive music programs to people with memory disorders told WLRN, "Music is the one thing that opens up people's brains, and it helps fire off neurons on both hemispheres of the brain." Through music therapy personalized with songs that deeply resonate with patients, people with dementia have a chance to tap into vibrant memories.


Make a new memory through the joy of music shared: play or sing a song that has a significant meaning for you to a friend or loved one or complete stranger. Relish in its expression of the human spirit.