(original) Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music From His Era

I have one resident that barely opens her
eyes, she didn’t respond. As much as I tried for two years, no matter
what I tried- massage wouldn’t work, nothing worked. When we got introduced to the iPods, and the
family told me the things that she liked, it was amazing once we put the iPod on her. She started shaking her feet, she started
moving her head, her son was just amazed. Ok, can we stop because now I’m getting (becomes
emotional)- I’m seeing her all over again. “Hi papa. Hi papa.” “Huh?” “How you doing?” “I’m alright.” “Who am I?” (mumbles) “Ok, it’s Cheri.” How long has he been in the nursing home? Approximately ten years. He was having seizures and my mother couldn’t
handle him at home. Of course it affected me greatly because he
was always fun-loving, singing, every occasion he would come out with a song no matter where
he was. I remember as a child he used to walk us down
the street near my brother and he would stop and do ‘Singing in the Rain.” He would have us jumping and swinging around
poles. He was good, he was always into music. You know?Always loved singing and dancing.” His name is Henry Drayer.” “Uh huh.” “And we’re looking more or less for religious
music for him. Because he enjoys music and is always quoting
the Bible, so I’d rather have that for him.” We first see Henry inert, maybe depressed,
unresponsive and almost unalive. “Henry?” “Yeah?” “I found your music.” “Oh, wow.” “You want your music now?” (Henry begins singing, incomprehensible) “Let’s
try your music ok? And you can tell me if it’s too loud or not.” But then he is given an iPod containing his
favorite music. (Henry begins to sing and becomes energized)
And immediately he lights up. His face assumes expression, his eyes open
wide, he starts to sing and to rock and to move his arms and he’s being animated by the
music. And he used to always sit on the unit with
his head like this. He didn’t really talk too much to people and
then when I introduced the music to him this is his reaction ever since. (laughs) The philosopher Kant once called
music “the quickening art” and Henry is being quickened. “I’m going to
give it back to you.” The effect of this doesn’t stop because when
the headphones are taken off Henry, normally mute and virtually unable to answer the simplest
yes or no questions, is quite voluble. “Henry?” “Yeah?” “Do you like the iPod? Do you like the music you’re hearing?” “Yes.” “Tell me about your music.” “Well, I don’t have none…” “Do you like music?” “Yeah, I’m crazy about music. You play beautiful music, beautiful sounds. Beautiful.” “Did you like music when you were young?” “Yes, I went to big dances and things.” “What was your favorite music when you were
young?” “Well, I guess Cab Calloway was my number
one band guy I liked.” (begins to scat) “What was your favorite Cab
Calloway song?” “Oh, I’ll be home for Christmas (sings) you
can count on me, with plenty of snow, mistletoe, presents wrapped ’round your tree, ooh!” So in some sense Henry is restored to himself. He has remembered who he is and he has reacquired
his identity for a while through the power of music. “What does music do to you?” Through this beautiful, new technology you
can have all the music which is significant for you in something as big as a matchbox
or whatever. And I think this may be very, very important
in helping to animate and organize and bring a sense of identity back to people who are
‘out of it’ otherwise. Music will bring them back ‘into it,’ into
their own personhood and their own memories, autobiographies.