Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Music: Let it Move You

Don't get me started on music therapy!  I should probably start a mega-theme or Music Monday column to cover the volumes of thoughts I have related to the power of music to transform our lives.  

Apparently, I am not the only one.  Have you seen the movie, Young at Heart?  Although the movie doesn't focus on him I wonder many things about Bob Cilman, the leader of this choral group of seniors: What did he do previously?  How did his passion for music connect with an interest in seniors? Does he know he is doing music therapy? What are his natural instincts and strengths?  No doubt he is a Developer on the StrengthsFinder inventory by Tom Rath like Reid's music therapist par excellence, Angela Neve. I also wonder why there aren't similar groups in every single nursing home--especially my Nana's in Ohio--to appropriate the vitality and sense of purpose that singing together and preparing to perform brings these seniors who are simultaneously vibrant and dying.  

Seniors singing together is a relatively simple concept.  (Maybe most good ideas are simple--once they're thought of!)  The further genius of the project though is their repertoire of songs.  Cilman has this geriatric choir doing Sonic Youth, Beatles, Ramones, and James Brown covers!  They don't particularly like the songs.  I don't really either;  except when they take on new life sung from an unexpected vantage point.  With years of life experience and the wisdom of age, the seniors give new meaning to these lyrics.  When Fred croons "Fix Me" as a memorial to his dear friend it means more than Coldplay ever imagined.  This juxtaposition is what makes the film profound.  (Then again maybe I am selling Coldplay.  A similar thing happened when Reid sang "Scientist"  last fall.)

Young at Heart is inspirational on many levels and for all ages.  It depicts mutual trust between director and choir.  It's novelty makes us laugh, not at the unusual, but in acknowledgment and recognition.  It models the importance of mental flexibility and teachability.  The film captures the therapeutic magic of music.  

Also irresistible is the empowerment of a group of people who are otherwise dismissed from our society.  Like those with autism and other disabilities, many seniors can feel isolated, forgotten, neglected by the end of their lives.  Young at Heart demonstrates another truth; they in fact, have untapped potential and loads to offer--not just on the sidelines but in commercial venues at the forefront of our culture! 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:27

'Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.  Leviticus 19:32

As they make music they will sing, "All my fountains are in you." Psalms 87:7

1 comment:

  1. The post and the clip bring everything into a full and connected circle. How cool is it that seniors are singing ColdPlay... and the Ramones! That, to me, feels as right and natural (now that I see it) as me listening to Ella (while being part of the 'Ramones generation').

    Cool post.