Playing piano for Alzheimer’s residents was such a wonderful experience because I could truly see how music has an important impact on their lives. It was so rewarding to see how our music brightened up the faces of the residents and to see their enlivened reactions as well. The residents sang along, tapped their feet, and clapped along to songs they knew when they were younger, and they always had a smile on their faces when we start playing music, even if they were completely quiet and still the moment before. On the first day of playing for the residents, I was unsure about what kind of music they would enjoy and was afraid that the music would bore them; however, they even hummed along to famous classical music like the Turkish March by Mozart and Sonata in C Major by Mozart. Over time, we were able to tell which songs the residents liked the most by their reactions and through song requests at the end of each performance. Classical pieces such as the Turkish March and Sonata in C Major by Mozart were favorites, along with sing-alongs such as God Bless America and Down in the Valley. A goal of mine was to understand the impact of the Mozart Effect, so I chose a collection of famous Mozart songs to play for the residents every time. We were also able to see a growth in the reactions from the residents as well. After many performances, we have seen residents emotionally respond to the songs, laugh, and even be able to bond with each other through listening to certain music. By the last day of the project, we had collected a list of song requests, and the residents begged us to come back soon!
Through this project, I have been able to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and its effect on the brain as well. Although this disease is universally known, details on prevention or knowledge of it is not as well known or talked about. Being a part of this project gave me a platform to spread knowledge on this disease and taught me so much. I was able to speak to a geriatrician and a dietician to learn more about Alzheimer’s and health as well. Hopefully, our project will grow and be able to educate many people on Alzheimer’s and how music can change the lives of those living with it.-Hana Barber
“Would you be interested in playing for Alzheimer’s patients?” asked my private teacher. It appeared to be fate. Music has always been an important part of my life, from listening to pop songs on the radio to playing the violin, and I was excited to share such an important part of my life with others. Before my first recital with Musical Memories For Alzheimer’s, I took out my old, almost tattered books that I had flipped through far too many times and began playing Suzuki songs that reminded me of “the good days.” Although I was sometimes too shy to speak, the program was very welcoming and kind. Hearing others play also inspired me to work harder and I can not wait to go to the Christmas recital!-Ellen Tan
This project has given me an experience that could never mean more in my life. When I first started this opportunity in my freshman year at an Alzheimer’s home, I remember that there was mellow singing from the audience when I started putting my hands on the piano. When I started this again right before senior year, Hana and I wanted to take a step further and have so many other people involved in helping the community.
I chose songs that I knew would click with the Quail Ridge residents: old hymns that remind them of their past. When I started playing them, a lot of them were so entertained that they started to sing along and sway around. One lady gave our project members so many song requests of old hymns because she could never get enough of our music. I never knew that I could use music as a language to spread so much love across a single room.
An important concept I learned was that music can not only bring back memories in Alzheimer’s patients, but also benefit the brain in so many other ways, such as improving cognition and uplifting mood. We also took the opportunity to learn so much more about Alzheimer’s. I think we as a society have so much potential with this information that we can spread more awareness about the disease. Hopefully, we can work as a community to help Alzheimer’s patients more, and encourage more use of music therapy!-Tara Lim