Excerpt from Alive Inside, produced by the Music and Memory Project.
Music can make you sing, it can make you dance.
Sometimes it can even help people connect with parts of their lives that they've totally forgotten.
All week, CBC Manitoba is asking whether music has the power to heal.
The documentary Alive Inside illustrates the incredible effect music therapy can have to invoke memory.
In it, we see what happens to Henry when he is given an iPod with some of his favourite music. "When the headphones are taken off, Henry, normally mute and virtually unable to answer the simplest yes or no questions is quite voluble," says neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist.
"This may be very, very important in helping to animate, organize and bring a sense of identity back to people who are out of it otherwise. Music will bring them back into it -- into their own personhood, their own memories, their own autobiographies."
In an interview on Information Radio this morning (April 16), music therapist Wanda Gascho-White talked to Marcy Markusa about the role of music in recovering memory.
"When we listen to or we participate in music we are actually activating our brain in a very dynamic way," says Gascho-White. "And I think the most surprising thing is how robust the system is becasue even people who have suffered strokes or brain damage, people who have dementia like Henry, are still able to process music very effectively."
And our listeners are offering up more proof. Chris Allan Budlong writes, "I took my guitar to my grandmother's care home the Christmas before she died. I ended up with every Alzheimer patient on that floor in the lounge area singing along with really old hymns that I was sight reading, and they were singing from memory. Don't know it that's about healing, but it sure made their day!"
Tell us how music has been a healing force in your life.