By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.
When it comes to music, I was not the one to be blessed with any talent, natural or otherwise.
I played sticks in kindergarten; took piano lessons for about a year as a young boy, practicing on a cardboard keyboard since we didn’t have the money for a real piano; and “played” clarinet in the grade school and high school bands. My seat always seemed to be in the back row. Of course, a little more practice might have helped.
My vocal talents are not any better. When I was working for the Alexian Brothers, I was asked to sing in the choir. Voices were needed for a special Mass later in the week. All the Lord expects, I was told, is “joyful noise.” The noise part, I certainly could provide. But there is nothing joyful about it. If I happen by chance to hit a right note, I don’t even know it.
My three brothers fared much better, with Don playing trombone, Jeff on trumpet, and Jed on drums. In high school at Notre Dame College Prep, Don was a member of the Melodons (CJF1969 – p17 • CJF1971, p11), a jazz band that was so talented that it made special guest appearances at the Collegiate Jazz Festival (CJF). What a treat it was to watch and listen one night as Don and Jimmy Pankow of the group Chicago were up on stage, playing trombones together at a Melodons concert. Jimmy, who also attended Notre Dame College Prep and had played in the Melodons, was making a special guest appearance to play with the band.
Recent information suggests that maybe I should have stuck with my attempts to play piano and clarinet, not for the sake of others but for my sake.
As I was preparing our most recent BMA E-Newsletter, I came across a study by Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, a clinical neuropsychologist in the Department of Neurology at the Emory University School of Medicine. The study suggests that musical instrument training may reduce the effects of memory decline and cognitive aging.
Ellen and I first met when we were both working at Alexian Village of Milwaukee. She and her husband now operate a company based in South Carolina that provides dementia care coaching services and memory care resources such as Memory Magz®. Check them out at keepinmindinc.com
In the e-mail, Ellen talked reminded about a project she initiated at Alexian Village to show people that even at an advanced age playing a musical instrument could possibly help you stay mentally healthier and sharper. She calls it one of her proudest professional moments.
Twelve older adults ranging in age from 75 to 92 joined the Mature Musicians, taking individual and group lessons through the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
They were featured in a News Story on WISN – Channel 12, the ABC affiliate in Milwaukee. The news story can be viewed below.
Memory care currently offered at Bridle Brook of Mahomet in Champaign County, Illinois. Construction underway for White Oaks at Heritage Woods of South Elgin Affordable Assisted Living & Memory Care Community.