Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Power of Music

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."

Victor Hugo

I'm a little late in sharing this and I know it has circulated quite far, but it is still impressive.  The video shows Marta Cinta Gonzalez Saldana, a former ballet dancer now afflicted with Alzheimer's reacting to hearing Swan Lake again, bursting forth in choreography and emotion.  It's a perfect example of the power of music on memory.

The video, taken in 2019, comes with a couple of large caveats.  The video is intercut with segments of another ballerina at their prime in full regalia.  It is important to note that this is not Gonzalez Saldana, nor is that ballet Swan Lake.  There has also been difficulty confirming that Gonzalez Saldana was a prima ballerina in New York, as has been claimed.  But those are minor details.  The power of the video lies in Gonzelez Saldana's recognition of the music and her muscle memory of the choreography.

We are just now beginning to fully appreciate the effects of music on memory.  Understanding how music ties into our earliest sound recognition and memory.  Connecting the link of emotion and memory through the powerful impact music has on us.  There are organizations dedicated to utilizing the power of music in those suffering from a host of cognitive and physical challenges.  We're seeing how music can unlock decades lost memories in those with dementia and other forms of Alzheimers.  

Music has power.

Far beyond what we have ever attributed to it.

We have always known the impact music can have on our emotional states.  Music can soothe the savage breast.  It calms us.  It hypes us.  It centers us. It relaxes us.  It moves us to action.

Look at something like Quarantine Cabaret on Facebook.  A venue for artists of all stripes to post music and dance on Facebook if for no other reason than to brighten others' days throughout this pandemic.  A small way to improve the world just a little bit.

We now see the impact it has on our mental health.

In the video, we also see how that impact on memory can be combined with other senses.  With muscle memory, in particular here with this dancer.  How the combined effect can be greater than the whole.

To me, this just shows why continued music and arts education is so important.  Why we cannot dismiss these as non-essential learning.  Yes, STEM education is valuable, but what good is math if we do not learn how to communicate it well.  What good is science, if we cannot relate it to our lives, cannot create meaningful connections with it.  If they cannot be folded into the greater story of our lives.  It's why STEM should always be STEAM, especially with music.

After all, music crosses all other areas of education. 

Music is language, both as in it is its own language and communicates the language of its writing.

Music is math.  Its language is written in fraction.

Music is science.  The manipulation of different wavelengths to create different pitches.

Music is literature.  The communication of story and emotion.

Music is history.  A picture of the society in which it is written.  Sometimes a product of, sometimes railing against.

Music matters.

It's why we need artists.  Why we need teachers.  

For our mental state and for our memory.



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