Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quiet Heart Music Celebrates Ten Years In Business

Yesterday on the radio I heard an interview with someone who made music for people with Alzheimers or in their declining years. The interviewee made some interesting statements about the healing power of music, but his approach was different from what I usually read in one particular way. He said that he was in the business of creating music that had no attachments to memories of earlier years. That is, it was all original with no connection to memories, though still designed to comfort.

Because of my longtime friendship with Yamaha Recording Artist Henry Wiens, I wasn’t sure how to take this. In  my 2007 interview with Henry I asked why music has such power to reach so deeply into peoples’ hearts. He replied:

Music is like beauty for the ears and mind. The answer to why people are moved by beauty is rooted in what it means to be human. For me, creating and listening to music is linked to expressing love for everything that is beautiful about life. As a listener, I respond to what I "read between the lines"; as a composer-performer, I try to express that love & beauty to others. Any power that music may have to touch others is rooted in the authenticity and depth of the artist's expression.

As people experience music throughout their lives, they build up associations with that music which reinforce each other. Hearing a familiar melody will bring past experiences to life. For example, hearing a song that you danced to when you were 18 and in love will probably elicit some of those good feelings even decades later. Hearing a song that was sung in church while you were held on your mother's lap may bring comfort the rest of your life.

Joan Baez
It may be that the person I heard on the radio is right in some instances, but I’m going to imagine that when we Baby Boomers are in nursing homes or hospice care we’re more likely to be transported to fond memories and beautiful landscapes when we hear "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" than when we hear something unfamiliar. Maybe I’m wrong but I’m guessing that three decades from now our souls will continue to resonate with Bach, the Beatles and "Wind Beneath My Wings."

Ten years ago Henry started a business called Quiet Heart Music based on the widespread response to his CDs as a source of comfort. His primary customers were nursing homes, hospice and funeral homes that purchased personalized CDs, but he’s not averse to individuals purchasing his music. This week he gave his website a facelift and if you’re in need of comfort or a quiet background as you write or draw, I can attest that Henry’s music offers a soothing accompaniment to nearly any activity.

There 's another feature of this kind of "comfort music" that's worth noting. According to many sources the music is not only like a soul-balm for the dying or grieving, but for the caregiver as well. Sherri Snelling's post in this Alheimer's Association blog is titled Music as Therapy: A Five-Note Plan For Caregiver Calm. Snelling explains, "Music as therapy is not just for your loved one. We know caregivers encounter increased stress over caring for a loved one — in fact caregivers who reported their health was impacted by caring for a loved one cite stress as their No. 1 challenge." She goes on to note that our reaction to music is actually physiological in that listening to music releases the hormone melatonin which reduces aggression and depression and can help us sleep.

No wonder we feel so good when we're listening to the music. Let's dance!

Centerville All Stars

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