Music and Memory


The holidays are upon us and the Christmas music is already playing in stores. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I *love* Christmas carols. Everything from “Silent Night” to “Jingle Bells” - I have never met a Christmas carol I didn't love. For me, these songs evoke strong memories of presents under the tree, family around the table, and friends spreading joy through song. I am instantly transported to 6, to 10, to 16, laughing all along the way.

What about you? Do you have certain songs that seem to transport you to another time, another place? Songs that bring up all the joy in your heart? Songs that remind you of a special loved one? Songs that help you connect to memories of places from long ago?

I read a great article about music and memory entitled, “Why Do the Songs from Your Past Evoke Such Vivid Memories?” The article describes this phenomenon as, “The songs we love become woven into a neural tapestry entwined with the people, seasons, and locations throughout our lifespan.” Yes. This.

Did you know that music is used to elicit memories from residents of nursing home residents and Alzheimer's patients? The clear connection between music and memory makes it an excellent therapeutic tool. In fact, a non-profit organization called MUSIC & MEMORY helps connect elderly or infirm patients connect with music through recycled iPods and MP3 players. The music allows those “struggling with Alzheimer's, dementia, and other cognitive and physical challenges to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories.”

Imagine, using familiar music to help overcome the physical challenges of Parkinson's. This video will have you cheering:


I am endlessly humbled by the power of music in our lives. I hope you’ll take time during this busy season to relax to music that brings wonderful memories to mind. Share a special song with those around you. Feel the emotional, cognitive, and physical presence of music in your life.

And know that, if you ever want to see a big smile on my face, sing me a Christmas carol.

Want to join our choir or provide instrumental music for the holiday season? Please contact me: music@westsideuuc.org

Make a joyful noise! Anne


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

Minister's Office Hours
Sunday 9a-3p
Tuesday 12:30-6:30p
Thursday 8:30-3:30p 
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Tuesday & Wednesday 9a-3p

And by Appointment

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