FreeTime Out Articles

Music and Memories

Some music will make you want to dance, tap your feet or sing along and some will bring you right back to another time in your life. Research suggests that the music we listened to (over and over) in our teens is the music that provokes the strongest memories as we grow older.

Well, I am writing this with a big smile on my face. Blaring in the background is a YouTube channel with music from the 1970’s (showing my age!). Right now Billy Joel is singing ‘The Piano man’, wow, great stuff! Olivia Newton John and John Travolta just finished the theme from Grease and Elton is coming up next.

It is like I am transported right back to a time of life full of new experiences, happy events, successes, trials and tribulations. First dance, leaving home, new friends, moving to another country... each event has musical memories attached and the feelings you experienced at the time surface. When I met my boyfriend, now my husband, we drove around in his little Ford Escort, a piece of string holding the car doors closed and Dr Hook blaring out “Sylvia’s Mother” from the cassette deck! I will never forget the words of this song.

Quoting from musicandmemory.org “our brains are hardwired to connect music with long-term memory. Even for persons with severe dementia, music can tap deep emotional recall. For individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, memory for things—names, places, facts—is compromised, but memories from our teenage years can be well-preserved. Beloved music often calms chaotic brain activity and enables the listener to focus on the present moment.”

Each time we hear a song we loved, the joy or the memory of a significant event associated with it brings us back in time as if it was yesterday.

Through my nursing home work I find that this is only too true. Music is a wonderful communication tool and encourages movement, singing, reminiscing and has a really good built in ‘feel-good’ factor.

What songs bring back emotional memories from your past? Why not take an hour or two this week, listen to some songs from your teenage years and let yourself be transported right back in time.

I will finish this now with Neil Young singing “Heart of Gold” in the background, close my eyes and take Time Out for an hour or so.

Happy Listening!

Maria Brady

Activity Coordinator & CQO at Maria’s Place