Alive Inside


My wife and I just watched an amazing documentary today titled “Alive Inside”. Here is a description of the movie from its web site:

Alive Inside is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts including renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) and musician Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”).

An uplifting cinematic exploration of music and the mind, Alive Inside’s inspirational and emotional story left audiences humming, clapping and cheering at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.

You may have seen the following YouTube video that profiled one of the nursing home residents in the movie.

The movie is a powerful testimony to the healing power of music, and the joy and happy memories that it can bring all of us.

The movie hit close to home. My mom was recently in a nursing home, where the days are long and there is not much mental stimulation. So one day I decided to start using my iPhone to show her YouTube videos of some of her favorite Irish songs and Christmas melodies. The transformation was remarkable; a smile came to her face and she would sing along to some songs she probably had not heard in 30 plus years. And this from someone who some days was not quite sure where she was or if she had eaten anything that day.

The movie also offers some thought-provoking ideas; one that struck me is how no one really questions prescribing thousands of dollars in prescription medication to nursing home patients, despite no clear evidence such medications are helping, yet people refuse to support the purchase of a $40 iPod and headphones, where the benefits are often quite obvious (and unlike medications, I can’t think of any negative side effects to such music therapy – unless they make the people listen to heavy metal…)

I highly recommend this documentary, and I think it will be well-received by all ages. If you have ever personally experienced the emotional power of music, then you will find that such experiences are universal, and such experiences leave an indelible mark on our memory that we can recall decades later.

Thank you Dan Cohen for the remarkable work you have done with Music and Memory; I wish you continued success.

P.S. Be sure to have a box of tissues close by…

12 thoughts on “Alive Inside

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