Living Instruments: Music and our brain

I attended an A cappella performance last night by MICappella and they did a rendition of the Iron Maiden Trooper, non-traditional and challenging but the song in itself is really epic and to hear it purely in vocals is mind blowing. Like living instruments in a fireworks display of sound, i imagine the synapsis that must be firing not just within the musicians but within the audience themselves as they watch the performance, lights, vocal, instruments but not instruments, as the mind tries to make sense of the event, following visually one musician to another identifying and piecing together the concert in their minds with sound and sight. During the concert, you can witness the happiness it brings as the crowd jives with the music, smiles lit up the room, think of the rush of dopamine and adrenaline during the song with a fast beat or tempo, all within a span of an hour or two.

What our human minds can do never cease to amaze me. I think of what a live A Cappella performance or a session could do for people with dementia. We talk about how music brings out our inner self and I believe many are familiar with the documentary Alive inside. Oliver Sacks in the video below is quoted as saying that “music can do things that language cannot”.

 

Music brings us alive, invoking memories, emotions, even actions; a gentle tap of the foot, drumming of fingers, a secret smile or a giggle when we associate a memory with the music. More needs to be done to bring arts and health together. We know the benefits of music when it comes to health, and even in the positive benefits in the reduction of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. Yet the streams of music and health continue to work in silos. How can we bring arts and health together to support the people, not just for entertainment but for physiological and cognitive benefits as well?

We certainly need to look into more ways in which we can utilise the beauty of music to support and provide culturally meaningful therapeutic interventions to the people with dementia. Understandably for many health care centres, the issues of cost, storage and even space for the provisions of  instruments are always an issueIf. With the numerous A cappella groups around the world, perhaps there should be an alignment with artist and healthcare professionals as a form of social responsibility to help the wider community. Music is the medicine that pills cannot provide. So how about A cappella, anyone?

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