MSE Lab Digital Resources
Home-Based Sensory Solutions
Making Sense of our Sense of Hearing and Music Making
This week’s edition of the newsletter will be focusing on ones’ auditory sense. According to Sherman, from The Dana Foundation, “hearing is a mechanical sense. It turns physical movement into the electrical signals that make up the language of the brain, translating these vibrations into what we experience as the world of sound” (2019).
We know that speech sounds are typically processed as words, usually in the left hemisphere of the brain in a location called Wernicke’s area, but signals also travel to the opposite side of the brain, where tone and rhythm, also known as the “music” of speech are interpreted (Sherman, 2019).
Humans are deeply impacted by music. Melody, rhythm and harmony tend to engage areas of the brain that are also involved in important functions such as attention, movement, memory, language and emotion (Sherman, 2019).
For the purpose of this newsletter, the focus will be on MUSIC and the ways in which you can use this medium to bring about a sense of stimulation, relaxation and/or healing for both yourself and those whom you support.
Sherman, C. (2019). The senses: hearing. Retrieved from https://www.dana.org/article/the-senses-hearing/
Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory
If you have not seen this movie, I highly encourage you to pop some popcorn, grab a drink and indulge in just over an hour of pure heartfelt magic. This Sundance film will take you through just how powerful sound, and more specifically, music is/can be in enriching an individual's quality of life. Without giving too much away, the film closely follows a few residents who have been diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and who at the start of the film are failing to thrive in their daily lives. It is through a “musical memory” i-pod program that the lives of these individuals are reignited and truly lived once again.
Movieclips Indie. (Jan 7, 2014). Sundance Film Festival (2014) - Alive inside: a story of music & memory featurette - documentary HD. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HLEr-zP3fc&list=PLcEgkCDPdjEZsMwiyIlagIWvVN1V2SHWa
Creating Personalized Playlists (Music & Memory Resource)
Some of these questions may need to be routed through a family member and/or caregiver who knows the individual best.
While the "Music and Memory" program largely focuses on those living in LTC homes with a diagnosis of Dementia and/or Alzheimer's Disease, I think this program would be very beneficial to everyone and anyone across the lifespan.
All too often the music that is played in group homes, clinical settings, hospitals etc. are geared toward the likes and preferences of the staff who are supporting individuals rather than the individuals that they are supporting.
Let's take this time to truly get to know the musical preferences of those whom we support.
There are various types of music apps that can be used (some free and some at low cost) such as Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, iTunes, iHeartRadio, YouTube and Pandora Music to name a few.
Music & Memory. (2014). How to create a personalized playlist for your loved one at home. Retrieved from https://musicandmemory.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Resource_Playlist_LargePrint.pdf
There has been plenty of hype over recent years about "binaural beats" and to be honest, the name itself is kind of intimidating. But, after some further investigation, it would seem as though these “beats” may just have some pretty interesting therapeutic value to them!
The thing with Binaural Beats or Instrumental Music (music without lyrics) is that both of these types of music do not require a higher level of cognitive processing to try and figure out words or lyrics. As soon as lyrics are put to music, your brain has a secondary stimuli to try and process and often we try to place meaning to the lyrics.
Take a read through the entire article that I have linked here in order to find out more about Binaural Beats and how you could use this as a tool for yourself and those whom you support.
Once you have thoroughly read the article simply grab yourself some headphones or earbuds, look up a binaural beat online via YouTube that fits your desired state, (for example, deep relaxation, reduced anxiety, increased concentration etc.) and you are pretty much good to go!
Cafasso, J. (October 6, 2017). Do binaural beats have health benefits? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/binaural-beats
What about making our own beats?
Drumming actually uses your entire brain and according to Northrup, "research shows that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain actually synchronizes the left and right hemispheres. So, when the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere of your brain begin to pulsate together, your inner guidance system – or intuition – becomes stronger" (2016).
Northrup goes on to reveal that “ listening to drum sounds regularly can have the same effect as drumming itself. The sound of drumming generates new neuronal connections in all parts of the brain. The more connections that can be made within the brain, the more integrated our experiences become. This leads to a deeper sense of self-awareness” (2016).
Additionally, drumming is a great tool to use with individuals who are hard of hearing or who may be deaf as they will be able to feel the music as they play along.
Take a peak at her article linked below for the many ways that drumming can positively impact an individual.
Northrup, (2016). 10 health reasons to start drumming. Retrieved from https://www.drnorthrup.com/health-benefits-drumming/
Click Here for 10 Health Reasons to Start Drumming
MPT News (Oct 24, 2014). Therapeutic drumming. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnAbFfbVVcI
DIY Inspiration. (Jan 25, 2020). 50 easy & beautiful diy chimes from simple items. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-uOHvvtePo