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So much more than one hour of music a week

Vicky Abad
November 14, 2017

Wynnum West mum Sarah Heron has been bringing her daughter Bailey to Boppin’ Babies since Term 4 in 2016 when Bailey was just four months old. She also brings along her dad Stuart, who has Alzheimer’s disease, for the family to share special time together.

In this blog Sarah shares her beautiful story with us. The Courier-Mail also covered Sarah’s story on Friday 24 November.

Precious moments of connectionWhile I was on maternity leave last year I was looking for something to do with my baby Bailey.

She was only four months old and Boppin’ Babies was the only program that I could find that took children from when they were babies.

I was drawn to Boppin’ Babies as my family has always been very musical. My mum and dad played together in a band all through my childhood, while my brothers all played instruments as well.

So I came along for a Boppin’ Babies trial and Miss Kate was just awesome!

Bailey and I have been coming to Wynnum Boppin Babies ever since and to this day she looooves her music time. She is a little groover and likes to have a dance.

Given how musical they are I brought mum and dad along one or twice, and dad loved it so much he just kept coming. Dad now comes to music every week.

Dad (Bailey’s Pa) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago and has really started to deteriorate over the past 12 months. His short term memory is non-existent, he can’t remember what he has done that day, and he struggles to speak and find his words.

But each Friday when he comes to music I see his eyes light up and it takes him back to the days he used to play saxophone, clarinet and flute in bands himself.

Boppin’ Babies means so much more to our family than one hour of music a week.

It is time I can spend with my beautiful daughter and my dad. It’s our “special time”. I will look back on these days with very fond memories.

I just wanted to say a big thanks and send huuuuuge love to Miss Kate.

Kate is amazing with the kids and Boppin’ Babies should be so proud to have staff like her.

Miss Vicky explains some of the science that is going on during this generational music making time.

I am not surprised Sarah was drawn to Boppin’ Babies, being from a musical background, as ours is a unique program that focuses on families making music together.

All our music is played live and our group leaders respond in the moment to the children and in this case, to Bailey and her Pa. We can bring in repertoire and musical styles that are appropriate for both of them.

Music provides a way for Sarah and her family to link to their musical past and share in the moment in ways that focus on Pa’s strengths, rather than his deficits.

Short term memory is one of the first things affected in people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

For people with dementia, music is a really powerful tool that we can use to help trigger memory and recall.

Music + Memory

Research shows that “music awakens a part of the brain not impacted by dementia” and that it “evokes responses, such as singing and movement” and can provide “precious moments of connection” with loved ones.

Music provides a window to the past by stimulating long term memories, which means we can use music to encourage memory recall.

Music can also stimulate the body to move in ways the body remembers but the brain may not, such as dancing or playing an instrument that has been honed over many years of rehearsing.

Moving to music helps increase overall wellbeing, as does singing, and both of these increase endorphin release in the brain which helps us feel better.

Each Friday, Bailey and her Pa get to spend special time together where they share in the joy of making music together.

They can share meaningful moments without words or the need for short term memory processing.

meaningful moments without wordsFor Bailey’s Pa, music provides a bridge to his past that has not been affected by his dementia. He has a lifelong love of music so his long term memories as well as muscle memory (from playing instruments) would be intact and stimulated.

Music time gives Sarah memories that she will cherish for the rest of her life, while nurturing her relationship with Bailey.

For Bailey it is laying a lifelong foundation to continue with her family’s tradition of making music together. Through sharing songs with her family she is learning about her world, her surroundings and her emotions.

And most importantly, Sarah, Bailey and her Pa get to express their love for each other where words are not required.

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