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Warmest regards: The magic of music

Every now and then I go on a short vacation.

I don’t have to pack any clothes and I don’t need money.

When I leave, if I look in the mirror I see a woman who doesn’t even try to look young again. I came to grips with the futility of that years ago.

But when I get to my vacation spot, it’s like a bit of magic. I’m young again with a long pony tail and a wide happy smile.

I don’t have to travel far to get there - just as far as my car and the music on a zip drive made for me by my friend Lenny.

He recorded songs from several decades and I never get tired of listening to them.

While I find all music is enjoyable, it’s the music from the ’50s and ’60s that I like best.

When I hear songs from what I call “my era,” I definitely turn into a carefree teenager brimming with happiness.

It’s the magic of music that transports me back in time.

What amazes me is that after all these years when I hear ’50s music I am flooded with memories that bring back moments in surprising detail.

I might not remember the grocery list that I made so carefully before I left for the store but I remember with precise detail moments those ’50s dances. I recall what I was wearing, who I danced with, who bought me a nickel Coke, and who walked me home.

It’s a universal experience that happens to many of us, thanks to the power of music.

I even saw it happen at a nursing home for memory care patients when a caring DJ volunteered his time to play music from bygone days.

One older patient who had even forgotten how to feed himself sat hunched over in his wheelchair with his head hung down. But when he heard the music from his era he raised his head and smiled.

The music also engaged another Alzheimer’s patient who perked up and mouthed the words to the old songs.

“That’s why I do this,” said the DJ. “The power of music to rekindle memories is incredible.”

It’s the reason why music is used by hospice and music therapists. It’s been proven to elevate moods, improve sleep and help in multiple ways.

While we all know the joys of listening to music, there’s an acute biological benefit as well.

Research shows listening to music can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, stimulate memory and elevate our sense of physical well-being.

The release of endorphins is one reason why music is so emotionally powerful. The runners’ high that people experience can also be reached through music.

This week I saw firsthand how music was able to calm me and reduce anxiety. Because of a scary situation that was on my mind, I found it absolutely impossible to sleep. None of my old sleep-inducing tricks were working.

As I lay there tossing on the sofa, I called upon Alexa to help.

“Alexa, play Rachmaninoff’s ‘Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini,’?” I said.

I’m always amazed when Amazon’s Alexa can answer any request without hesitation.

The soothing music not only put me to sleep, but hearing the classical piece play in the background prompted a deep, satisfying sleep.

A universal language that touches people in a deep way, music can connect to our soul, especially when we hear a meaningful song.

I can seldom hear “The Wind Beneath My Wings” without tearing up. The lyrics capture so well the way I felt about my late husband Andy. He was and still is my hero.

Anything I have been able to achieve is because Andy was the wind beneath my wings.

There are certain songs that reach into our very being, making us believe it was written just for us.

Some songs make us want to dance, some songs make us cry.

Other songs renew our energy and frame of mine.

Playing music or listening to music is definitely one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves.

I love just about every kind of music. Sometimes I splurge on buying tickets to nationally acclaimed musical acts. Two of my favorites are Mannheim Steamroller and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

But most of the time I find pleasure in the wide variety of local talent.

Country music, classical, rock ’n’ roll, jazz, reggae, folk music, gospel, polkas, dance music or easy listening - it’s all appealing.

My friend Jeanne and I seek out restaurants that offer local entertainment and it’s seldom that we don’t like it.

I’m amazed at how so many local musicians can be heard in our clubs and restaurants.

Karaoke was always popular in our area, and now that popularity has soared. So many singers sign up to perform that the venues often have to limit performers to just one song or two.

I don’t sing (lucky for the audience) but I have an important role at karaoke. I’m part of the appreciative audience.

Hey, every entertainer wants an audience, right?

Whether it’s listening to my friend Franck Johannesen play folk music or moving to the beat of my favorite rock band, music has the power to make my spirits soar.

And sometimes, it even makes me young again.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.