As the piano music starts to wind its way through the clinically beige room, the still audience begins to come to life. Heads sway, hands raise and wave to the music, and a sense of vitality and community is deeply felt by all in attendance. This is Music Mends, the dream of Andrea Kelly, an Arlington resident with a love of music and a desire to give back to the community by bringing live music to those in assisted living facilities.
Since beginning in 2018, over 70 local musicians have volunteered their time and talents to bring music to these communities in need. During these performances, it can be stunning how residents, previously unresponsive to conversation or television, can start to move and react to the music.
The research on the effects of music on the brain is conflicting, but most agree that music has an effect on the brain different than speech or background noise. And some studies suggest that music can help those with Alzheimer’s or other brain damage to recover some of what they have lost.
By bringing music and rhythm into the lives of residents, Music Mends is absolutely contributing to their morale. But the musicians and their performance may also be promoting healing and slowing the effects of aging and a secluded life for the residents as well.
But there is also an emotional component for the musicians as well. The connections they make with the residents of the facilities that they visit can be extremely meaningful. One of the volunteer musicians, Abby Sevcik said, “It’s just really cool how [music] unites people.”
And Jimmy Stewart, a guitarist and musician tells a story of one of the residents that made an impact on him during his visit.
“The first lady that I played for, she couldn’t hear very well. And she wanted me to come closer so she could hold her hands out and feel the sound coming off of my guitar. So…it was crazy, I wasn’t ready for that.”
Music Mends is creating so much good by impacting not only the residents in the facilities they visit, but the musicians themselves. Each visit creates opportunities for profound connection and healing.
To learn more about Music Mends, watch the video below. To become a volunteer with Music Mends, email Andrea Kelly at [email protected] .