I’ve attached the above article from a fellow blogger because I know for a fact that music memory stays with a person, perhaps longer than any other memory. I’ll give you one personal example that proved this fact for me. There are other encouraging examples readily found on the Internet, but because my family experienced this phenomenon first hand, that’s what I’ll talk about, ever so briefly.
My sister-in-law Nancy lived a life that was steeped in artistic activities. She was a well-known and respected interior designer and she was a flautist. A flautist is one who plays the flute. (I’m providing that definition because the sound of the word “flautist” sounds like an uninvited body function to me.) But I digress.
Nancy enjoyed her music involvements on a small and large scale. In the early 80’s, she met my brother during a local production of South Pacific – a production in which my brother acted, and for which my sister-in-law provided the music accompaniment. Fast forward to the year 2012. I gladly helped my brother out by taking Nancy on outings – sometimes to art museums, sometimes to music events. Regardless of the outing, I always made sure that my vehicle’s radio was tuned to the classical music station. I knew Nancy would enjoy it, and I also knew that even after being diagnosed four years earlier with mixed dementia, Nancy would be able to identify the orchestral or operatic pieces being broadcast.
Although I grew up appreciating the classics, the only pieces I can accurately identify are those often-played symphonies such as Beethoven’s 9th Choral Symphony, or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Nancy, on the other hand, could pick out the lesser known arrangements and could identify, with pinpoint accuracy, the conductor and the soloist for that particular piece, e.g. Leonard Bernstein; Yo Yo Ma. It saddened me to hear the hesitation in Nancy’s voice when she would speak up while sitting in the passenger seat, making the musical identifying remark but always questioning whether she had done so accurately. “I think that’s Mozart” or “I think that’s Yo Yo Ma playing his cello. I think it is.” Even before the piece was identified on the radio I would assure Nancy, “If you say that’s Yo Yo Ma, by God, it is Yo Yo Ma.”
And she was right – and she was affirmed that she still had a handle on Handel, or Mozart, or Sibelius. Yep – she never lost her abilities. What a delight, and what a pleasant interlude during an illness that took her life on July 4th, 2012 at the age of 69. One thing I know for sure, however, is that from Nancy’s viewpoint right now, she’s enjoying her favorite opera each time Wagner’s “The Ring Trilogy” is played around the world. Nancy doesn’t need season tickets anymore; she has a front row seat.