Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wilderness Story

 Sometimes The Wilderness Is Just A New Place Where You Feel Uncomfortable

In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.

Amy appeared at my door one day to ask me to participate in a new group forming in our community. She needed musicians to help with bringing music participation to individuals coping with dementia, Alzheimers disease, and Parkinson's disease. She explained how playing an instrument affects the brain. I was intrigued and agreed to come see how things worked. I might have said no, considering my busy schedule, but I wanted to check out the idea of creating a band of amateur musicians. The organization Music Mends Minds had a very interesting website.

I learned that when dealing with memory loss music reaches past memory to a deeper place


The sensory experience of music binds with memory in the brain and makes it more powerful. 

Here are some things expressed by those who are suffering from memory loss and their caregivers.

You need to be around people
Playing music together offers a sense of freedom
Having something to do that is valuable and important
Cognition improves when playing music with others
Playing music lowers depression
Playing music raises energy
Playing an instrument requires muscle memory in the brain and is not impacted by dementia. Music is like another language.

At first as I involved myself with this group I had to deal with my own sadness. I met with people who I had known before their decline into memory loss. It was hard for me to "look loss in the face". Really, the weeks of holding back was about my own unwillingness to see my mortality. At some point I felt the impression to look at how I could contribute better. I started observing more and pulling away less. I saw how some people waited, while others chatted and did business. The idea came to me to play music at the piano, right away. I also observed the impact of rhythm and suggested a play along with simple instruments. That provided more of the idea of being in a band. In our group, very few really played an instrument. Everyone liked playing along with something that made sound. We are young still and I am eager to see how we progress. I hope I can help create moments of rest and relaxation for anxious minds. These words by a caregiver resonated with me.

"What radiates on the faces of the band and the audience is a sense of this moment of contentment that has nothing to do with suffering and all about the rewards of taking the risk to show up. They've paid their dues and now have a free lifetime membership to the sanctuary of the heart." 

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  1. Music truly is the universal language. My son has ADD and had a horrible school experience until he learned to play piano. He eventually joined the school band in middle school, then the marching band in HS, now he is in college and doing well. Music gave him a sense of himself, who he was and what he could do. Keep going with your band, you are doing a something good with the gift God gave you.

  2. Yes, music is powerful! I love how you're using it to help people in this way. I'm sure it creates a great sense of community and brightens their days.


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