Let the Music Bring the Best Out of You By: Taylor Nolander

Let the Music Bring the Best Out of You

Have you ever heard someone say they hate listening to music? That is unheard of. One may not like a certain type of music and/or artist but I’ve never heard someone say they completely hate music in general. Music is just a background noise to keep someone entertained or even to just help time pass, so why not have music playing at all times? There are a variety of different music apps, that allow people to play music when they please on essentially any device, for free. It cannot get much better than free music at your fingertips whenever you want.

Two different, but similar, music apps that are currently trending, are Spotify and Pandora. They both allow a free option to play music, but the two differ in its user interface. Spotify allows them to search and browse through specific songs to play, while on Pandora the user can pick an artist/genre station and simultaneously filtering out songs that might possess similar characteristics depending on the station picked. Both of these apps come at a free click on any smart phone or device, Apple, Android, or Windows. To obtain both apps, two things are needed, an email address and password to set up an account. However, both apps offer a “premium” subscription of additional monthly payments of $9.99 for Spotify and $4.99 for Pandora. These additional payments simply allow for more luxury selection and usually include an ad-blocked version. The free apps allow music to be played, but will have commercials and will only allow a total of 5 skipped songs per day. Whereas paying the additional monthly payments have no commercials and may skip as many songs daily.

As people age, sickness can occur and take over the body. Dementia, or more specifically Alzheimer’s disease, occurs in a lot of seniors when aging (Schall, 2015). The brain of an Alzheimer’s patient changes drastically when compared to a healthy brain. When a patient is experiencing dementia, there is severe cortical shrinkage, enlarged ventricles and a shrinkage of the hippocampus. Another factor that causes Alzheimer’s is the changing of the neurons in the body. Two main lesions start to occur in the brain, senile plaque and neurofibrillary tangles. Senile plaque is formed from amyloid plaque that builds up outside of the neurons. Neurofibrillary tangles, composed of tau protein, formed inside of the neuron. This causes filaments in the neuron and eventually causes the neuron to die which no longer allows signals to be sent from neuron to neuron. Neurofibrillary tangles are first seen in the hippocampus which pertains strictly to memory and learning (Burzynska, 2017). Therefore, memory starts to decrease when these senile plaque and neurofibrillary tangles occur in the brain.

This disease can affect one’s episodic memory, communication behavior, and emotional well-being (Schall, 2015). Studies have shown that music can in fact help Alzheimer patients well-being over all. Therefore, seniors should always have access to music. Music itself has been used therapeutically for thousands of years and now music therapy has recently increased in popularity over the last couple years (Schall, 2015). Music therapists cannot be around all hours of the day. Therefore, patients with dementia should have their own method to play music when they may be feeling lonely or having an episode, like forgetting where they are. For the most part, all it takes is music to calm patients down and bring their emotional well-being back to somewhat less-agitated. While technology continues to advance, engineers are building easy-to-use –step-by-step –gadgets that more seniors can manage without the help from the younger generation. From personal experience, with working in an assistant living facility, many of my residence have computers, cell phones, and even iPads that they use daily. This allows them to have opportunities for having music apps such as Spotify and Pandora.

A study was done with 12 patients that were clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and had at least 15 years of education. All patients had no neurological or psychiatric diseases. During the study, 12 different song sections and 9 different clips from films were played for the individuals. Then they were asked if they knew the excerpt or not on a scale of 1 to 10. There were also three different texts presented where two were verbally read to the individuals and one was sung in rhyme to a Beethoven’s song. The next step was showing words on a PowerPoint line by line and having the participants recite the line. More lines showed up forming a paragraph. Which caused the participants, with memory disorders, to be only able to remember 3 words out of each line (Paisson, 2015).

The focus was to see if the patient with AD could remember more lines within what type of clinical intervention, spoken condition or musical condition. Ninety two percent of the patients could recall more lines of the expert when it was sung in a musical rhyme. Therefore, seniors with memory disorders are likely to recall and encode information and words better when they are presented in a musical priming rather than generic spoken conditions. Music has shown to be a big impact on one’s working and verbal episodic memory in AD patients (Palisson, 2015). Ergo, medical practitioners would be wise to inform their patients of the benefits music apps like Spotify and Pandora have to offer.

Many studies have been conducted to try and help people who have been diagnosed with dementia. Music therapy is the most common form of help for dementia patients. Another study was done with 9 participants age ranged from 69 to 100 years of age. The main objective was to see if individual music therapy helped communication behavior, well-being, and positive emotions towards people. A music therapist would come in and do one on one with a patient and these sessions could last 23 to 39 minutes, depending on the patient. Some cannot stay and focus for a long period of time and when they start to get distracted, the session will end. In the 20 sessions, some participants wanted to remain in session because they realized the positive impact music therapy had on their well-being (Schall, 2015).

Results showed positive feedback on the patients with dementia. The study showed that music therapy can really help individuals open and express themselves. There emotions changed completely and their ability to express their feelings with communication, increased. Therefore, music can have a positive impact on people with dementia and helping them communicate their needs and wants without having outbursts from confusion (Schall, 2015).

As a whole, music has been shown to help peoples memory, communication skills, and emotional well-being. Since patients with dementia can have an episode at any given minute and music therapy cannot be offered at all times, dementia patients could go hours upon hours without coming to ease. Especially at night time when they get confused from just where they are. In any situation, having Spotify or Pandora can be an easy alternative for a care provider to play, instead of working to a verbal or physical solution. Thus, music can be anyone’s remedy and can alter many people’s behavior with just a press of a button on Spotify or Pandora.


Burzynska, A., (2017). Lecture15: Dementia and neurological disorders [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://colostate.instructure.com/courses/42197/files/6592453? module_item_id=1320649

Chang, Y., Chu, H., Yang, C., Tsai, J., Chung, M., Liao, Y., & … Chou, K. (2015). The efficacy of music therapy for people with dementia: A meta‐analysis of randomised controlled trials. Journal of Clinical Nursing24(23-24), 3425-3440. doi:10.1111/jocn.12976

Schall, A., Haberstroh, J., & Pantel, J. (2015). Time series analysis of individual music therapy in dementia: Effects on communication behavior and emotional well-being. Geropsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry28(3), 113-122. doi:10.1024/1662-9647/a000123


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