In 1962 at the age of nine, I had the opportunity to see Louis Armstrong perform live at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I remember staring up at the bandstand taking in his performance. It was magical listening to his voice and the sounds that came out of his trumpet. I was truly mesmerized. Many years later, I have not forgotten one moment of that show and when I hear a Louis Armstrong song, I’m transported back to that concert.
Favorite songs trigger memories and those memories are often very complete. They include not only the song and the performer, but also how we were feeling at the time, the people we were with, places we have been and events that were happening.
This is especially helpful in caring for people living with dementia. Various research shows that the areas of the brain that store musical memories are the last to deteriorate. This explains why individuals who rarely speak may spontaneously sing when a familiar song is played.