music playlist

“I Love Classical Music” and “I Love the Nutcracker” have been two of my baby granddaughter’s favorite board books most of her 9 months of life. Both by Marion Billet, they each offer snippets of six selections of orchestra music. The sound is surprisingly good. Baby Girl will sit and listen to the music for several repetitions. Sometimes we dance while the music plays.

Numerous studies show that listening to music and making music have a profoundly positive effect on babies. says that, “Recent studies have shown that music affects the physical, emotional, and intellectual development of babies and children and strengthens cognitive and sensory development.” noted a study conducted at the University of Washington which showed that nine-month-old babies “who had been exposed to music had enhanced pattern recognition and could better predict rhythm patterns — both necessary skills to learning how to speak or pick up a new language. In their conclusion, the team of scientists noted that other studies have shown that musical training can help with language.”

Babies are at one end of the “music helps me!” spectrum while dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are at the other end.

Fascinating research from a nonprofit organization called Music and Memory demonstrates how personalized music playlists (held on an iPod and listened to through headphones to eliminate distraction) can almost instantly bring back a non-communicative patient to interact with the music. The videos I’ve included below are amazing. Music from a patient’s earlier days (such as high school) seems to wake them up. Many inert patients start humming or singing along, tapping fingers or toes.

This personalized music helps reduce the need for anti-psychotic medications in some and helps manage the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, according to a Brown University study.

So it’s not just any music; it’s music that holds meaning and memories for each individual patient, although it appears there are some songs that are popular on the playlists overall. One of the common favorites made me laugh aloud: Stop in the Name of Love by the Supremes. My best friend in high school (who is one of my readers) and I had a little dance routine we would do as we belted out this song. Yes, Linda, I guess this would be on both of our playlists.

My own playlist would be quite the eclectic mix consisting in part of classical, hymns, show tunes, the soundtracks from A Star is Born and The Greatest Showman, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston, contemporary Christian music, songs from the 60s, Andy Williams, Katharine McPhee, and Eva Cassidy. That would be a wild mix, yes?

What would be on your playlist?


The shortest snippet that gives a good idea of the program

Alzheimer’s Playlist

Power of Music on the brain

USA Today video