I have a personal memory of visiting a community where a resident had received an MP3 player as a gift. He held it close to him with a grip shaking with excitement. He had trouble understanding its controls, so I assisted him and guided him through the various menus and buttons. As it turned out, we both shared similar tastes in music. I was raised with R&B and soul in my heart. From the smooth and funky sounds of James Brown and Al Green to the classics like Cab Calloway and The Inkspots, he and I shared our tastes for over an hour. We both tapped our feet and nodded our heads to the beat like metronomes in sync with each other. We under the spell of the music, and it provided a link that we couldn't possibly share through days of conversation. It's a chemistry that musicians know well; it's often referred to as being "in the pocket" or "in the groove." Even though I never saw him again, I felt like I had a friend that day as we both smiled and sang along, like we both part of the same generation even if we were decades apart.
There have been staggering advances in administering music therapy to those living with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. The feeling of happiness that comes from connecting to music is unparalleled, even in the midst of conditions and diseases. There is a fantastic program called Music & Memory, where volunteers collect used MP3 players to distribute to places of caring. For more information, visit musicandmemory.org.