Diagnosis: Happiness and Health due to Music and Merriment. Prognosis: [90 Years of] Happiness and Health due to Music and Merriment.

This is an old story for many of you, but I just learned about it a few minutes ago thanks to my brother.

Francis and Marlow

Picture this.  You’re at the clinic for a checkup, waiting for results, watching other patients enter and exit the lobby. You’d rather be somewhere else. Then some hooligans start making a racket:

Just another day at the doctor.  Apparently their YouTube debut got pretty popular, so they had to go back to Mayo for an encore.  Here’s a news story about it.

For me, music and older adults go way back (pun not intended…well, ok, kind of intended).


A few years back I interned and then had a job as music therapist at Good Samaritan Society – Stillwater.  Let me tell you, music matters. A 96-year old man – “Bob” – asked me to teach him to sing.  After a string of private lessons, he reached his goal of singing a song in front of the weekly singing class. Bob also was the poster child (:-) for the jug band.  He played the jug.


Virginia was a neighbor lady who had Parkinson’s disease.  I helped her get dressed in the mornings and tucked in at night. She loved Frank Sinatra and the Andrews Sisters, and could name just about every tune from the 1930s-40s.

One day (mind you, this was a morning in which she was halucinating about objects on the table) she corrected me twice when I was singing the wrong melody to “For Me and My Gal.”  She was right on.

I wish I had videos of Bob and Virgina to share, but they are resting in the confines of my mind where they frequently play and bring a smile to my face.

Why do they matter?

You might think that people like Francis and Marlow are in a totally different class than you are.  You may be thinking of them as one more reason to be intimidated away from even bothering to learn a music skill. “I’m never gonna do that.”

So. What.

They’re in their 90s.  How old are you?  Do you think they started playing yesterday? In just a couple years of practice, you could do some pretty fun stuff – not quite like the Cowans yet, but you could play more than you do today, if you want to.

But maybe you don’t really want to, and that’s ok too.  Your experience can be that of an observer, a clapper, a laugher, an encourager – a receiver of the joy and beauty sent out by other creative individuals.

Let me leave you with the video of the entire encore concert at Mayo, and as you view it, notice the audience, notice the energy, notice the attitudes, notice the lack of ‘perfection’, notice what is happening inside your gut.

What do you feel? I bet the floor keeps bouncing up and hitting your toe. The toe-tapping actually starts somewhere else, somewhere deeper inside.  For me it is right above my belly button.  I get this sort of whoosh and fluttery sensation of glee.  It is a very pleasant and uplifting experience. It moves me. I hope it moves you too.

Happy Arting,


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2 thoughts on “Diagnosis: Happiness and Health due to Music and Merriment. Prognosis: [90 Years of] Happiness and Health due to Music and Merriment.

  1. Trying to figure out how to use this process……will experiment until I get it right. Love your writing. Will try to write more later


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