Music, Language, and Memory


Friday, October 31, 2008

A recent study of stroke victims with damaged language abilities found that those who listened to music recovered better than those who listened only to audio books. Music plus words trumped words alone. Studio 360’s Gideon D’Arcangelo has witnessed this phenomenon first hand–with his mother Sylvia D'Arcangelo. (Special thanks to Bob Huott.)

    Music Playlist
  1. La Vie En Rose
    Artist: perf. by Sylvia and Gideon D'Arcangelo
  2. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
    Artist: perf. by Sylvia and Gideon D'Arcangelo
  3. Mares Eat Oats and Does Eat Oats
    Artist: perf. by Sylvia D'Arcangelo
  4. Forever Young
    Artist: perf. by Sylvia and Gideon D'Arcangelo
  5. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
    Artist: perf. by Sylvia and Gideon D'Arcangelo


Gideon D'Arcangelo

Comments [9]

Rebecca from Tucson, AZ

Like Amy, this story truly moved me. I sat in my car, in the hospital parking garage on my way to see my aunt. I've cried both times, listening to this story! The first song Gideon plays is beautiful and I recognize it, but I'm having the hardest time remembering the title! Anybody know it?

Dec. 28 2008 06:58 PM
Amy Chown

Gideon, your story, replayed this morning on NPR, stopped me in my tracks. I had a similar experience with my beloved Mom, Ruth Chown, this past summer before losing her to Alzheimers Disease a few weeks ago. My siblings and I discovered this past summer during visits with her, like Gideon, that we could start humming any song and Mom would sing along - sometimes singing the counter melodies and directing the phrasing. We couldn't stump her either. Colonel Bogey March. God Bless America. And our special song we sanag together, Always. It was our very personal way of having very meaningful and touching conversations with her. Thank you for giving me a moment this morning that brought Mom back to me. Every nursing home and rehab center should have music therapy to reach inside our loved ones and draw out this way for them to connect.

Dec. 27 2008 12:58 PM
Amy Novatt from Rhinebeck, NY

Dear Gideon,
I met your mom around 8 years ago. I came to know her through Lynn S. Hearing her voice on your segment moved me to tears. To me, she has always been a woman who lived with great integrity, beauty and strength. This "segment" of her life is further confirmation of her tremendous spirit.
THanks for sharing this journey with others.
Amy Novatt

Nov. 02 2008 06:16 PM
Chris Chase from Jericho, VT

What a stunningly beautiful story. Like the others who have already commented here, I was moved to tears listening to your mom sing along with your guitar. Thank you so much for sharing her story with us. I pray that I would be able to follow your loving example, if and when the time comes . . .

Nov. 02 2008 05:09 PM
Russ from New Hampshire

Your story moved me to tears. In fact, I listened to it twice (with the same result!).

The most moving part was when you and your Mom were playing and singing Dylan's 'Forever Young.' That was a really wonderful moment. I admire the love, patience and compassion you have, and have for your Mom.

Nov. 02 2008 10:00 AM
Jason from San Francisco

I don't think my eyes have ever been glossy after having listened to anything on the radio. I have not been touched like that in quite a while–very beautiful story, indeed.

Nov. 02 2008 01:03 AM
Debra from NJ

I, too, was moved to tears by your piece (a phenomenon that doesn't happen too often these days). Thank you for touching me by sharing your intimate story. Should I find myself in your mother's shoes someday, I only hope someone has the love and patience to help me connect, the way you've connected with her.

Nov. 01 2008 12:36 PM
JC from NJ

This story nearly led me to tears while driving in my car. I too have elderly parents, one had multiple strokes (and has now died). One is entering into dementia. I know the importance of music. I believe it is something that we all ,as humans, can access and recall, not only for melodies and words, but because it puts us back to the very strong emotions that we felt when first hearing the songs. I believe that's why it has such a powerful and lasting imprint in the brain.

That was a beautiful segment. Thank you.

Nov. 01 2008 11:08 AM
Tim Seastedt from Philadelphia

Thank you, Gideon, for this wonderful story about your Mother. I have elderly parents who are now in my care which made this story more personal to me. I admire how you played for your Mother and how the connection with music, through you, helped bring her back. Your Mother's voice is beautiful and hearing your guitar with her singing was a beautiful way to begin my Sunday. Your story is an inspiration...thank you, so much! -Tim

Nov. 01 2008 08:04 AM

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