Music Part 2 - Steps to Personalized Music

Step One - Watch Music & Memory Video 

Music & Memory ® at Martha's House - Awakenings

Roundtable Dementia Support Team's Project to Bring Personalized Music to Our Loved Ones

Step Two - Become a Music Detective

Start with asking your loved one or their family what were their favorite songs from their TEEN years. 

Ask friends what they like. Check out their oldies music collection.   

This starter playlist is recommended for loved ones living with dementia.

"My Way" - Frank Sinatra

“Blue Suede Shoes” - Elvis Presley

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” - The Beatles

“Moon River” - Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer or Andy Williams

“Over the Rainbow” - Judy Garland

“Singing in the Rain” - Gene Kelly

“Stand by Me” - Ben E. King

“What a Wonderful World” - Louis Armstrong

“You Are My Sunshine” - Jimmie Davis

“You Make Me Feel So Young” - Frank Sinatra

•“This Land Is Your Land” - Peter, Paul and Mary

“Pennies from Heaven” – Bing Crosby

“Moonlight Serenade” – Frank Sinatra

“A-Tisket A-Tasket” – Ella Fitzgerald

“Moon Glow” – Benny Goodman

“Memories Are Made of This” – Dean Martin

Step Three - Sign up for a free Spotify Account 

You can use a computer, smartphone or tablet and connect your device to a speaker or a headset with a wired connection or bluetooth. Headsets may be more effective as they reduce background distractions.

Next add songs that were at the top of the pop charts when your loved one was 13 to 23 years old.

First set the search criteria on songs not all or artists. Collect 100+ songs.

        Example: If they are 80 in 2023 

        Enter    "year:1956-1966ANDrock"

Step Four - The Assessment 

Play the songs and build a personalized playlist by watching your loved one and delete the songs that do not spark engagement. 

Using Spotify observe your loved one for about 30 seconds per song to see if they are reacting - tapping their feet, smiling, moving, swinging their arms , singing and even dancing. If no reaction remove that song and go to the next one. It will take about an hour to assess 100 songs. Target is 40 to 50 songs

You now have a personalized playlist

If you need help with this project email

Step Five - Structured Music Program 30 min Daily

Plan a structured Music program offering the personalized music 30 min every day .I t is also beneficial to offer the music prior to medical appointments, family gatherings, attending events, going out to dinner. 

Have Patience and Persistence.

Enjoyment Starts Immediately, Improvements may take longer.

Optional - Use an MP3 Player For Untethered Access

 If you want your loved one to use an inexpensive MP3 player instead of being tethered to a computer, tablet or smartphone . Take the personalized playlist from Step Four and purchase those songs using Apple Music/iTunes or Amazon Music on a computer and export mp3 files to the player directly or to the micro SD card using an SD Card reader.

The Theory 

Why Music from Teen Years is So Effective

Reminiscence Bump - A Psychological Phenomenon 

Memories are forever entwined with the music they listened to during those times of their life. 

We attach music to particularly emotional times, exciting, new experiences, new feelings, first kiss, first dance, first car,  first time away from home.

Scientific studies show we remember more from our adolescence and early twenties than any other period of our lives.

One theory for why this happens is that our minds undergo an intense and rapid phase of development during our teenage years and early twenties so our budding brains and memory systems are at their peak absorbing as much information about the world as they can.

The music we listen to during this period has greater lasting impact than songs in later life because of a psychological phenomenon called the reminiscence bump.

Prof Loveday explained that listening to our favourite music has a fundamental effect on the brain; there’s a surge of activity in the reward pathways that increases the levels of dopamine and oxytocin in our brains - the same pathways that are triggered when we do anything pleasurable such as eating, drinking or dancing. “There is evidence that structural elements of music get physically tied to our autobiographical memories” she said.

It’s not necessarily when the music was released that is relevant but rather the time frame during which the music was important to an individual.

Musical reminiscence bump is so powerful because we attach music to particularly emotional times.

We have fewer memories from birth to about eight-years-old, while at the other end of the scale our minds can easily recall memories that happened most recently, although this does decline with age.

However, researchers have found there is a key age between the ages of 10 to 30-years-old when the reminiscence bump applies, meaning our memories have a particular affinity for recalling events.

It stirs powerful emotions and feelings, recalling vivid memories.

It defines who we are, creates precious bonds and friendships, makes us feel better.

Music’s powerful ability to connect us with the people, places and moments that make us who we are.