“Music is the soundtrack of your life”

With the passing of Dick Clark last week, many people are experiencing a flood of emotions. Some of those emotions are feelings of grief and loss, but others may be emotions and memories from their lives based on the music that Dick Clark was associated with. In fact, it was Dick Clark that is quoted as saying, “Music is the soundtrack of your life.”

For me, I have always found music a great way to entertain myself as well as a way to de-stress and relax. If you looked at the music on my iPod you would find everything from classical, country, rock, pop, and even old school rap. There are many songs that bring back memories for me, but there are a few that I could just name and remember all the details of a memory tied to it. Examples would be Restless Heart’s song Bluest Eyes in Texas reminds me not only of my first exposure to country music, but sitting in my dorm room at tech school with my roommate playing this song over and over. Def Leppard’s song Photograph puts me on the black diamond ski slopes in Winter Park, Colorado, skiing the moguls in the winter of 1985 with my Sony Walkman and a cassette of mixed music I made just for downhill skiing. The next song on the tape was She’s a Beauty by The Tubes and it not only puts me on the slopes, but also reminds me of when I met an old girlfriend, Kristin.

Kristin passed away in 1986, so that song, as well as Andrew Gold’s Thank You For Being Friend and Dionne Warwick & Friend’s That’s What Friends Are For, which were both played at her memorial service, bring up strong emotions for me.

In February 2011, Thelma Duffey and Shane Haberstroh had and article in Counseling Today where they discuss musical chronologies and how music can be used in a therapeutic setting.

There have been many links showing memories are tied to our senses. In fact, musical chronologies have been shown to be an effective therapy tool. According to Duffey and Haberstroh, a musical chronology is like a musical scrapbook and “uses meaningful music to help clients connect with feelings, thoughts and memories, identify relevant life experiences and bring perspective to these experiences.”

In the article they also discuss a study conducted by Catherine Somody that focused on musical chronology and older populations. Participants reported that the emotions evoked by the music increased their self-awareness and reconnected them with “important memories and values.” In using the chronology, depending on their recollections, they experienced feelings of pride and accomplishment when remembering hardships. When they reported feelings of regret, they experienced forgiveness and “opened the door to hope.”

So what is you music chronology or the soundtrack of your life? What are some of the songs that will illustrate your personal story or “life themes.” As we grow older, new genres, artists, and musical trends will be added to each of our chronologies. You might be surprised several years from now what songs will transport you back to the events in your life.

In the meantime, explore where you have been and become more self-aware of those events that have shaped who you are today. Learn from the hard memories while enjoying the happy ones.

A Musical Chronology and the Emerging Life Song, Thelma Duffey & Shane Haberstroh; Counseling Today, February 2011