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​Service Through Music Raising Money For Alzheimer’s Awareness

September 22, 2016

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Music has the power to elicit emotions and move people in ways they can’t explain. It also often transports us back to certain times in our lives, especially moments we remember fondly.

Students Andrea Moreno ’17 and Christina Nutting ’17 have witnessed this fist hand through the TLU chapter of Service Through Music (STM)—an organization seeking to enrich the lives of others by incorporating musical performances and music technology into local nursing homes.

Through STM's previous fundraising efforts, it has been able to partner with Guadalupe Valley Nursing Center in Seguin to equip their residents with 20 iPods, headphones, chargers, and iTunes gift cards through the new Seguin/TLU branch of Dan Cohen’s Music & Memory program. Each resident of the memory unit, which focuses on patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, has his or her own iPod and a playlist of music featuring their personal favorites. This way, they can listen to music year-round without waiting for an outside group to come perform.

The group now has their sights set on making Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Seguin the next official Music & Memory facility by leading the campus in a Practice-A-Thon on September 30 through October 2. STM is encouraging any student who plays a musical instrument to log practice hours during this weekend while donors make monetary pledges per hour practiced.

According to Cohen’s website, their research shows consistent results that residents are happier and more social, their relationships among staff, residents and family deepen, everyone benefits from a calmer, more supportive social environment, and staff regain valuable time previously lost to behavior management issues. The organization also concludes there is growing evidence that a personalized music program gives professionals one more tool in their effort to reduce reliance on psychotropic medications like Xanax, Ativan and other antidepressants.

Moreno, a music education major and member of the TLU wind ensemble, orchestra, and mariachi band, says music enhances their quality of life, perhaps even prolonging it.

“It has been shown that music is scientifically proven to help people battling Alzheimer’s and dementia—two issues many people are familiar with on a personal level,” she said. “We’re doing this to raise awareness about the positive impact music can have on those suffering from the diseases, as well as show the science behind it.”

During her sophomore year of high school, STM President Christina Nutting lost her grandmother to Alzheimer’s. Seeing nursing home residents positively respond to the Music & Memory program is very rewarding for her, and she hopes the Practice-A-Thon raises awareness about the importance of music.

“It’s extremely inspiring,” Nutting, an elementary education major, said. “One time, a man followed us outside after he listened to ‘Amazing Grace.’ It moved him to tears and he just kept thanking us. It’s amazing to see them listen and singing along. You really see it taking them back to happy times in their lives. That’s the power of music.”

To make a pledge supporting the Music & Memory program at Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Seguin, visit www.tlu.edu/events/practice-a-thon. Flat donations are also welcomed and encouraged.