The Beauty of Music

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

                                                                        Psalm 100:1-2

I wrote several stories in my book, In a Mirror Dimly about my Mom’s long battle with dementia, a battle that has profoundly shaped my views and thoughts. The Christmas season brings many memories of her, her love for Christmas, and particularly her love for Christmas music.

Mom had long been a lover of music. She sang in church choirs for many years, and imparted her love of music to my sister, Susan and to me. Our long car trips were always accompanied by sing-a longs of music of all kinds, but she especially loved Christmas music.

She had been a resident of a memory unit for a couple of years. A close friend of hers, Kathy lived close by and visited her frequently. During the Christmas season of 2014 she had progressed to a point where she didn’t know any of us – my sister, her children, us and our children, or even Kathy. One evening a local high school choir presented a program of Christmas songs in the memory unit. Kathy was there with her, although we weren’t certain how this might go. Later that evening Kathy called us excitedly to share amazing news: our Mom who didn’t recognized her children or her friend sang every word to every verse of every song that choir presented. On pitch! On tempo!

An entire cadre of clinical studies have been done over the years about music and patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. There seems to be no scientific consensus. And yet there are a plethora of anecdotal reports just like mine that suggest that for some, memory of music may withstand the cruel claws of the disease.

Sir Thomas Beecham, the early twentieth-century conductor and musicologist once wrote, “Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and leaves the memory with difficulty. Magical music never leaves the memory.”

I gratefully concur with Sir Thomas. And the magic of that memory brings a smile to our faces whenever we think of our Mom this time of year. May you have such a precious memory of yours who have gone before.

1 Comments on “The Beauty of Music”

  1. A sweet memory!! I could tell you some stories when working on the Alzheimer’s Unit In Tampa Florida. Rick and I served a church in the Tampa area for 7 years. Lots of memories!! Thank You!!

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