The power of music
My first realisation of the power of music was watching re-runs of old black and white horror movies with my brothers when I was young. I clearly remember feeling the adrenaline rush of fear as the lumbering form of Boris Karloff's 'Monster' chased a villager across the screen, but as I clambered over the back of the sofa, my brother turned the volume down and suddenly, what I was seeing (through the cracks in my fingers) became somewhat comedic and I realised that it was the music that had created the fear response.
Throughout my work at Alive! and my training in Biodanza (a system of self-development that uses music, movement and positive feelings to deepen self-awareness), I have seen countless examples of where music has had the power to open up emotional states in people, even those who have progressed a long way in their journey with dementia. Often it is because a piece of music has a particular relevance to that person - perhaps their first dance or something that was popular when their children were born - but equally, it can simply be some 'quality' of the music that taps into something deep within us.
Try this little experiment (on yourself). Sit quietly and click on the following links, notice how your mind and your body responds to the different pieces of music.
When choosing music to play with groups, it is very important to consider what response our choices may evoke and, while we can never be certain what this will be (due to the myriad experiences each of us has had in our lives), with a little care, we can generally find pieces that will create feelings of positivity and even joy. This clip from the film 'Alive Inside' demonstrates this perfectly.
Malcolm Burgin, Alive! Hants, Wilts and Dorset Regional Manager.