Unlocking Memory

National or global themed awareness days follow another all through the year, more and more all the time. I like the way they help highlight particular causes, issues or situations, and every now and then I hear of a new one which really strikes me. One of these is National Playlist Day – 22 September – designated by the charity Playlist For Life.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

“Playlist” has become an everyday term, literally part of the soundtrack to our lives. Even just lately following the death of the Queen, radio presenters have talked about using wind-down, reflective or solemn playlists. Where once we might have recorded songs off the radio or off CDs or tapes, now creating your own playlist is a different experience as the sky’s the limit to what you could stream.

Integral to the idea of playlists is choice, individuality, the freedom to hear exactly what you want to hear, no more and no less. I actually enjoy the serendipity of radio, where you don’t know what you will hear and where a song you might long have forgotten (or never enjoyed before) may suddenly resurface. But obviously the opportunity to craft your own playlist is special.

And online there are so many different playlists to enjoy. Never in history has there been so much music to hear on demand, to hear for the first time or again and again. Music’s immense importance for many people is deeply rooted, and now technology has given it wings and set it free.

National Playlist Day is far more than “just” a celebration of the age of the playlist. It’s all about raising awareness of the importance of playlists for people who have dementia, who are the focus of the charity Playlist For Life. With music and memory so closely interlinked, playlists can revive memory for people living with dementia. Music can enable communication, as the power to sing or to recognise music can remain even when people struggle to talk or seem totally withdrawn.

Ahead of the inaugural Day, Playlist For Life has been asking people to share what songs we remember down the years, what might stand out for us or transport us back in time. It might reawaken a specific memory, or conjure up a particular phase of your life, like schooldays, or an era like the 1960s or 1990s. Sharing playlists can give other people ideas of songs they might enjoy.

Music has so many possible impacts, which playlists can unlock. Music can be there at all times, to soothe, calm, excite or cheer. One playlist could do all this, or you migh tlike to have different playlists for different needs, times and moods. Music therapy and group singing are very helpful for people with dementia – but only take place from time to time. A playlist becomes a constant, music to turn to whenever you want to do so.

I wonder what might be on your playlists? How do particular songs make you feel? What memories do they stir? Do share any thoughts in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 And to learn more about Playlist For Life, go to https://www.playlistforlife.org.uk

Published by medleyisobel

My name is Isobel and I run Medley, an online initiative sharing art, nature and music for health and wellbeing.

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