Hitting the right note | January 31, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - January 31, 2014

Hitting the right note

From autism to dementia to the end of life, music has the power to resonate and soothe

by photos and story Veronica Weber

One day while leading one of his vintage-music reminiscing sessions at the Day Break adult day care in Sunnyvale, musicologist John Lehman finally got through to a man in his 80s who was agitated and restless because of his dementia.

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Staff Photographer Veronica Weber can be emailed at [email protected]


Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 31, 2014 at 8:29 am

This year's Audience Award for documentary at the Sundance Film Festival was the movie Alive Inside, featuring the work of Music and Memory (musicandmemory.org). The film was fantastic, and there was not a dry eye in the packed theater during screenings. Everyone should visit the website and see the film and then learn how to donate and ipod, and participate in this important initiative.

Like this comment
Posted by Olenka Villarreal
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 31, 2014 at 10:20 am

3 cheers for Spencer! As Ava's mom (referenced in the article), we have thoroughly enjoyed his music sessions over the years. Ava typically has a hard time sitting still, but when she is in her hour-long class, she stays fully engaged as Spencer works his magic.

Spencer's commitment to serve this population was underscored when, at a recent community function, a parent of a typically-developing child asked him to play at an upcoming birthday party. To this, Spencer replied that there are so many talented musicians who can perform for them and not enough to work with those with special needs. He politely declined the invitation, saying his time is best serving these kids.

Because music is such a powerful connector for ALL kids, I'll take this opportunity to mention there will be several interactive musical zones in the soon-to-be-built Magical Bridge Playground in Mitchell Park. Stay tuned and come and play with us once the park is built this fall! (www.magicalbridge.org)

Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 31, 2014 at 10:47 am

Both John Lehman and Marguerite Manteau-Rao, mentioned in this great article, will be making a free presentation for the community on Thursday, June 19 at 7pm at Avenidas Rose Kleiner Center in Mountain View. Along with Linda Sullivan Baity, they will talk about how music, art and horticulture can be used as therapy for older adults. Mark your calendars if you want to attend this interesting session.

Like this comment
Posted by Suzanne Lyon
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 7:14 am

This is a wonderful article. I'm glad someone also mentioned the Music & Memory program where they are collecting iPods to be used for residents in nursing homes. Music is magical and another way to make use of it to engage and calm dementia patients is to reminisce using a LifeSongs book. LifeSongs lets you tell a person's life story through 12 photo collages, but you also can record 12 separate songs that help to trigger memories. Learn more and share at www.LifeSongs.info.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 1, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Thank you to Veronica Weber for such a moving piece and to everyone involved in these wonderful programs. When my mother was dyig and had lost most speech she still responded to music. She loved big band music and the crooners and would sometimes try to sing along. It was so good to know that the music she'd loved so much gave her some comfort at the end.

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