Bringing Music Therapy to Reno Stroke Victims
Listening to your favorite music almost always makes you feel good, but now a Reno music therapist is demonstrating how it can offer a whole lot more…
A caretaker in a nursing home approaches “Henry,” a man with severe dementia who day by day stays in a catatonic state. She says to him, "I found your music. You want your music now?" That’s how it begins…the viral video with well over 2 million views.
The caretaker put a pair of headphones on Henry, and he hears....music. Even after the music's off, he's animated...talking...alive. As he says himself, "Yeah I'm crazy about music! You play beautiful music, beautiful sound!”
In Reno at the McKinley Arts Center, Jodi McLaren has watched that video too. She tells me, “It just shows how powerful music can be, especially for people with Alzheimer’s." That is what McLaren, a music therapist, strives to do. Not just for the joy it brings, she says music has the power to heal, "We bring in familiar music and it’s like part of their brain lights up, and they're suddenly back in a joyful place. I’ve seen it."
Her first client of the day is Shari Wise. Wise had a debilitating stroke six years ago. As she tried to tell me, "Brain....is hard....to speak. Right here....six years ago." Wise can't tell the story as well as she sings it. Once McLaren starts playing her guitar and the music begins, her words, in a song she wrote herself, come through flawlessly: "My words were babbling…I could not speak. Tom drove me to the hospital. We didn't know…we didn't know."
Basically, music allows us to express ourselves through sound, even when it is difficult or even impossible to do so through words. The magical power of music cures emotionally, physically, socially…and spiritually. McLaren told me, "We're using other areas of the brain that haven't been damaged, to help that language producer start to produce language again. And it works."
It works for Wise. Struggling again without her music, she told me, “Music...is...my...life. I love it, yeah. I think it’s nice to finally get it out."
Note-Able Music Therapy Services is a local non-profit based at the McKinley Arts Center on Riverside Drive in Reno. There's an event this weekend to raise funds for their work. For more on Saturday's “Enchanted Masquerade” at the Grand Sierra Resort and a link to buy tickets, click below: http://note-ables.org/special-events