Column: Music key in all walks of life
Commentary by Lorene Burkhart
Just when I was getting ready to write about the joy of music in our lives, I read that we should select a playlist for our funeral. Really?! I’m visualizing Rod Stewart crooning a love song while pall bearers move rhythmically down the center aisle – maybe if we move the service to an arena or performance venue? Well, it’s worth a chuckle.
Seriously, music is important at all ages of our lives. It provides healing therapy, rhythmic patterns for youngsters, romantic moods and nostalgia. Playing a musical instrument provides even more pleasure and benefits. Recent studies show that learning to play an instrument reduces stress and builds brain power. It’s never too late to resume those piano lessons that you discontinued when you were a busy teen. One of my friends decided to teach herself to play the banjo, and now she enjoys leading singalongs for retirement communities.
At a recent Purdue event, I heard the director of its marching band extol the virtues of the tuba. He said that he learned from a teacher that a tuba could do so much more than an oom-pah, and he spent his college years becoming a master of the tuba. Now, he directs his students to enjoy it as much as he does.
Research also suggests that playing an instrument can reduce symptoms of dementia and cognitive impairment. Playing music is a multitasking activity that requires using many areas of the brain, and it also satisfies our need for self-expression.
A few years ago one of our residents decided to take tap dance lessons and had so much fun that she found others who enjoyed singing and dancing. Now her musical revue group has a busy performance schedule on the retirement home circuit.
“It’s never too late” is our mantra for fun in life. Nowadays, you don’t even have to read music. You can just play along with one of the computerized programs such as Guitar Hero. A word of caution. Playing drums should not be on the discovery list if you live in a retirement home. (Only if all hearing aids have been removed!)
So get out your old records and your phonograph player, if you still have them. Otherwise, CDs or your favorite radio station will give you a groove and you can hum along to your heart’s content.