How Seniors Benefit From Music
- Music has been found to stimulate parts of the brain, and studies have demonstrated that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer's and dementia patients, including a study conducted at UC Irvine, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer's patients improved when they listened to classical music (Cheri Lucas, Education.com, "Boost Memory and Learning with Music," pbs.org).
- Adults age 60 to 85 without previous musical experience exhibited improved processing speed and memory after just three months of weekly 30-minute piano lessons and three hours a week of practice, whereas the control group showed no changes in these abilities (Nina Kraus, Samira Anderson, "Music Training: An Antidote for Aging?" Hearing Journal, Vol. 66, No. 3, March 2013).
- Playing an instrument as a kid leads to a sharper mind in old age, according to a new study conducted by Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, a clinical neuropsychologist in Emory’s Department of neurology, and her colleagues. The researchers gave 70 people between the ages of 60 and 83 a battery of tests to measure memory and other cognitive abilities. The researchers found that those who had played an instrument for a decade or longer scored significantly higher on the tests than those with no musical background (Quoted in Diane Cole, "Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You've Taken Music Lessons," National Geographic, January 3, 2014).
- Cognitive and neural benefits of musical experience continue throughout the lifespan, and counteract some of the negative effects of aging, such as memory and hearing difficulties in older adults (Parbery-Clark A, A.S., Kraus N. , Musical Experience and Hearing Loss: Perceptual, Cognitive and Neural Benefits in Association for Research in Otolaryngology Symposium. 2014: San Diego, CA).
- Research shows that music activities (both music listening and music making) can influence older adults’ perceptions about the quality of their lives. Some research has examined the effects of music listening on biological markers of health and subjective perceptions of wellbeing. Other studies on the psychological and social benefits associated with music making activities have demonstrated that participants often place considerable value on these “nonmusical” benefits of music activity (Coffman, D. D. 2002. Music and quality of life in older adults. Psychomusicology, 18, 76-88).
- Music keeps your ears young. Older musicians don’t experience typical aging in the part of the brain (the auditory cortex) that often leads to hearing troubles. It’s never too late to start taking piano lessons and prevent these age-related changes (The Record.com – Michael Roizen, MD and Mehmet Oz, MD).
- Playing music reduces stress and has been shown to reverse the body's response to stress at the DNA-level (Dr. Barry Bittman).
- Playing music "significantly" lowered the heart rates and calmed and regulated the blood pressures and respiration rates of patients who had undergone surgery (Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., and St. Mary's Hospital in Mequon, Wis.).
- Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study with 30 depressed people over 80 years of age and found that participants in a weekly music therapy group were less anxious, less distressed and had higher self-esteem (Friedman, “Healing Power of the Drum,” 1994).
- Playing music increases human growth hormone (HgH) production among active older Americans. The findings revealed that the test group who took group keyboard lessons showed significantly higher levels of HgH than the control group of people who did not make music (University of Miami).
- “We feel strongly that abundant health benefits can be achieved by older adults who learn to make music in a supportive, socially enjoyable setting. We are just beginning to understand the positive effects of making music on our bodies and our physical health.” - Dr. Frederick Tims, principal investigator for the Music Making And Wellness Research Project and professor and chair of Music Therapy at Michigan State University
What Brain Aerobics for Hip Seniors is all About
I have always admired Dr. Shinichi Suzuki's brilliant insight and dedication to creating a philosophy of musical education based on a simple, natural Mother Tongue approach.
Many years ago, I began experimenting with the concept of marrying Mother Tongue learning as it applies to the performance of classical music with elements more on the creative side of the musical spectrum, (improvisation, composition, exposure to multi-genres).
Materials were developed for my teenage students introducing these expanded concepts. I carefully observed how students reacted to these assignments. If students benefited, the exercises were retained, if not, they were discarded.
As things progressed, I experimented with younger and younger students , until today, where these concepts are being successfully introduced to children as young as three. It is now common in my studio to hear young students performing Bach one minute, followed my an improvisation the next.
Recently, I began to be haunted by a burning question - Are these materials universal? That is, would the apply to older beginners as well?
Over the past couple of years, I have used these variations on Mother Tongue concepts with three adults, (ages 40-60), with wonderful results. Two came to me with no musical experience whatsoever; the other has a Masters Degree in oboe. Like my much younger test subjects, I am happy to report that all three are equally at home with the printed score, as well as having the ability to have spontaneous musical conversations.
There have been a wealth of studies over the past couple of decades about the benefits of musical studies for senior citizens. I am now interested in determining if this new curriculum will have positive results on the senior mind.
The foundation of Mother Tongue teaching revolves around imitation, repetition, and the systematic mastery of small, easily attainable steps. This philosophy of education has produced fantastic results with young children and I have witnessed amazing results in students with ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome.
I believe this type of study may be of great benefit to ageing minds and and very interested in exploring this further.Therefore, I am looking for ten seniors, (65+), with or without any musical knowledge, who are interested in studying in this way.
Therefore, I am looking for ten seniors, (65+), with or without any musical knowledge, who are interested in studying in this way.
- Enrollment in the Brain Aerobics for Hip Seniors program is limited to ten participants.
- Participants will receive a discount of 50% off regular fees.
- All study materials are included in the cost.
- Participants must have access to a well-maintained acoustic or full-size digital piano (with an adequate weighted hammer action).
- Lessons will be available on an in-studio or online Zoom format as determined by the student.