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The Proof is in the Power of Group Music

This month we have been highlighting the power of group music-making for all persons.  To get a full listing of our articles under the topic click here.

Here are just a few great articles (the proof) behind the benefits of group music.

Drumming Up Good Feelings

Drumming can be a great way to bridge the gap between generations, as seen in Bowen Park in Waukegan, IL where instructor Nansady Keita teaches the Djembe drum.  Keita learned this dying art form in the West African nation, Guinea.  Jack Cunningham, 9, said “I really like to play music and I like to drum a lot.  It’s the vibration.  You can feel the beat and it goes up your body.”  Irene Voros, 75, who has taken many music classes and has visited Guinea for many years said, “I first did a drum circle that was for free and I got enchanted by it.  You put energy into the drum and it gives me energy back.”  Voros attributes drumming to helping her exercise her arthritic hands and keep her brain fit.  /Lake County News-Sun/, June 8, 2012

Scales to Scaples

Dr. Lisa Wong, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Milton Pediatrics, talks about the connection between music and medicine.  From music helping her to become a better doctor to music’s ability to connect to patients young and old, Wong describes the powerful effect it has in her book, “Scales to Scalpels.”  When describing music’s importance with patients, she said, “Music has a way of reaching a deeper core in a person than sometimes can be touched in any other way, even beyond words.  Young [amputees] who don’t want to put in an hour a day of occupational therapy will practice [a musical] instrument for 10 hours a day just to get things right.  The music is driving them…” /, June 11, 2012

Stave Off Memory Loss

In a study funded by the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute in Tampa Bay, FL, researchers found that after eight months, participants who practiced tai chi had brain growth and cognitive improvement.  Those in the study who were not instructed to participate in tai chi, were either told to engage in stimulating conversation, to walk, or to do nothing at all.  Surprisingly, those who participated in engaging in stimulating conversation did better than those who were just walking, perhaps pointing to the importance of being socially engaged.  “You have growth and degeneration simultaneously, and most often degeneration wins out,” said Dr. James Mortimer, professor of epidemiology at University of South Florida College of Public Health.  “I would imagine that if you keep things growing you can ward off memory loss.” /Herald-Tribune/, June 20, 2012

Bridging the Generation Gaps

The Long Beach Senior Arts Colony, to open in December, will feature an impressive array of opportunities for their residents, ages 55 and above and earning 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income.  The colony will boast a fitness center, yoga center, spa, dog park, community gardens, and art studios.  A second building will eventually be built next door for residents of any age in an effort to provide more opportunities for the mixing of generations.  “The character of seniors has changed dramatically,” said Michael Bohn, design director and principal of Long Beach-based architecture firm Studio One Eleven, which designed the project.  “It’s not the Depression-era seniors that make up these developments anymore; it’s the beginnings of baby boomers.  Many of the younger seniors are more interested in being close to vibrant, downtown and urban environments.”  EngAGE wi ll manage the social programming while Western Seniors Housing will manage the property. /Long Beach Business Journal/, June 5, 2012

Other Countries are Using Music for More than Entertainment

Drs. Erol Can and Bingur Sonmezs are working together to practice Makam therapy, an ancient form of Turkish music therapy.  Specific music, or Makams, are played at specific times during the day for a specialized purpose.  Dr. Sonmez said, “There is a different makam for every illness, every health problem. There are makamlar that agitate, and there are makamlar that relax.”  Both doctors do not believe this therapy takes the place of traditional medicine, but do see its benefits in relieving stress, depression and anxiety in their patients. /Green Prophet/, June 12, 2012

Fighting Alzheimer’s

This fall Matthew Ross Smith, founder of The Spaces Between Your Fingers project will embark on a unique journey, the 10,000 Strangers Campaign.  The Smith will attempt to introduce himself to 10,000 strangers in parks, libraries, arts and senior centers all across America and will offer those he meet a self-addressed, pre-stamped postcard where they can share a memory or story that they do not want to be forgotten.  The postcards will be archived and searchable online.  Ross began the The Spaces Between Your Fingers Project in 2009 in memory of his grandfather who had Alzheimer’s disease.  /Huffington Post/, June 25, 2012

Social Connections Through Music – Means Healthy Aging

The annual 100@100 survey interviews 100 centenarians to learn how they have reached their centennial years.  This year, a group of 50-year-olds were also interviewed to provide insight into the future centennials and what their lives might look like.  Eighty percent of 100-year-olds surveyed say they eat balanced meals and a majority exercise every day.  Boomers and centenarians both describe social connection as integral to healthy aging, though only one centenarian in the group had ever Tweeted.  /, June 16, 2012