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Music Therapy

02/05/2019 04:04:35 PM


We had a very successful program with Aaron Lightstone last year.   Myra Schiff shares here about that experience.  We look forward to welcoming him back again this year, on Thursday, May 30 at 7:30 pm in the triple rooms.  We hope reading this blog post inspires you to join us for this year’s program. 

You may know Aaron Lightstone as a musician who sometimes leads us in singing on Shabbat mornings.  Or you may know him as the person who provided the music for Rabbi Tina’s program on aging.   Last year, a group of Darchei Noam members got to know yet another side of Aaron, when he presented an interesting program on his work as a music therapist. 

During the program, entitled Music Therapy in Aging, Dementia and Palliative Care, Aaron talked about various aspects of music therapy, illustrated many of them with compelling videos, and used examples from his professional practice to clarify what he meant.  He began by defining music therapy as the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist. The therapy can lead to improvements in mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Neurologic music therapy, which Aaron practices, is grounded in neuroscience research and improves the functioning of the nervous system; including motor skills, speech and language, and cognition, which may be compromised as a result of disease or injury.

 He offered an example of a person with impaired walking ability as a result of a stroke.  When music with an appropriate beat was played, he was able to walk faster and more smoothly, an improvement which continued even after the music stopped. After several sessions of this type, the person was able to walk virtually normally even when there was no music.  This is an example of neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. With neuroplasticity the brain can compensate for injury and disease and networks can adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

In fact, Aaron made reference to neuroplasticity a number of times throughout his presentation, and explained that participation in music is an important way to increase neuroplasticity and reverse cognitive decline. In part this is because the brain’s receptors for music are not localized, but are distributed throughout the brain, which we know from various studies involving brain imaging. Aaron also explained that the three best protections against dementia are exercise, music and being bilingual.

We were inspired by this session and look forward to bringing Aaron back for another presentation at Darchei Noam.

Sun, 21 April 2024 13 Nisan 5784