Giving the Gift of Music

This week, something extraordinary happened. Director Michael Rossato-Bennett posted a clip from his new documentary, “Alive Inside,” on YouTube. Over the next couple of hours, he watched the number of views climb from 300 to three hundred thousand. As of this writing, five days later, over three million people have watched it. It’s been covered by USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, ABC News, the LA Times, the Guardian, and news organizations in Brazil, Canada, and Pakistan. And the film hasn’t even premiered yet.

What’s attracting all this attention? Music therapy, and the extraordinary effect it has on a 94-year-old called Henry. Without music, Henry is uncommunicative and cannot recognize his own daughter. With music, he comes alive, reminiscing about his favorite Cab Calloway performances. His eyes glow, he speaks with energy and passion.

If you haven’t seen this clip, you can find it here. Pass it along!

The full documentary, which premieres next week at the Rubin Museum in New York, is about a wonderful project devoted to improving the lives of elderly people with various conditions—especially those, like Henry, with dementia, as well as people with cancer, depression, paralysis, and a host of other conditions. The idea couldn’t be simpler: load an iPod with music that has meaning for the individual, so they can access that music to enliven, engage, and uplift.

You can help transform the life of someone like Henry by donating an old or new iPod. For more information, go to the Music and Memory website. Learn how to pick the right music and set up an iPod for your loved one, or how to bring this program to your neighbors.

As Dr. Sacks has written in Musicophilia, music can be more therapeutic than any medication. Music, he says,”brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”

Music is inexpensive, easily available, and (unlike drugs) it has no side effects! Let’s keep this going—tell a friend, and ask them to spread the word, too.