Music at any age and stage of human life is a boon. But researchers at Yale University have found it to be a still greater boon in old age. The medical journal Lancet recently carried an exhaustive study on the benefits of music in old age. Music has the potential to drive away “old age blues” experienced by almost all senior citizens. The study urges senior citizens to listen to music of their taste, and exhorts them to play a musical instrument if they know how to play it.
The great novelist and raconteur William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), a medical doctor who never practised medicine, learnt to play the violin in order to tide over his loneliness in old age: he lived close to a century. Bertrand Russell would regularly listen to Beethoven’s ethereal symphonies to fight his sporadic schizophrenic bouts. He too had a long but highly productive existence on earth. He died at the age of 98 (1872-1970). The Victorian English poet Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) started playing the piano at 70 when he felt that his poetic prowess was deserting him. He got that back, thanks to taking to the piano.
The glial cells and neurons in the human brain tend to relate to the cadences of music known as ‘neural dance’ in the parlance of neuro-biology. That is why many old-age homes and hospitals in the west have trained musicians and a room meant for playing slow and lilting music.
Sigmund Freud would always advise…