(In photo: Mr. Gary Phillips)
Using music adds richness to life
By Vejay Steede
Music is a timeless healer. It is an indelible part of any life lived well. Music makes memories come to life, soothes restless minds, gives context to dreams, and grows with you, no matter how old you grow.
Septuagenarians have had the privilege of experiencing more music than most and are now enjoying the life affirming nuances that have always been an intrinsic ingredient of good music.
Seniorlifepa.com describes music as a “powerful medicine,” explaining that the artform holds the power to “.… reduce stress, improve symptoms of depression, and enhance productivity, among others – and, ultimately, improve a person’s quality of life.
“Pleasing melodies play an important role in life for people of all ages. But for seniors, the benefits are even greater.”
Mr Gary Phillips is a quintessential Bermudian Art lover. No stranger to the stage, Mr. Phillips (78) has spent many an evening sitting opposite the legendary Ms Ruth Thomas, telling stories of Olde Bermuda, and thereby cementing his own status as an iconic Bermudian storyteller.
Having lived the life of an Art lover, Mr. Phillips has a very special relationship with music: “Music has always been integral to everything I see and do. In short, it is not external to my being, but intrinsic.”
According to seniorlifepa.com: “One of the most significant benefits of music for seniors is its seemingly magical ability to improve memory. Specifically, music can stimulate feelings of wellbeing in seniors by evoking strong memories and emotions.”
On whether music makes him feel younger, Mr Phillips says: “I would simply say that all music has made me feel neither young nor old, but ALIVE – I feel particularly good knowing that I am able work out and explain why I don’t really like certain types of music.
“I read somewhere and maintain that music is the language of all sensations. It is the one art form that embraces every aspect of my life.”
Music becomes a whimsical time travelling device for Mr Phillips when he connects it to memory: “Music, for me, is a vehicle that helps me – not only to travel back in time, but it also presents an aperture, or a window, to a time not yet experienced.”
Of course, having experienced over seventy years of music’s evolution, Mr Phillips has developed a very refined and focused taste for the artform.
“My taste is music is very eclectic: I cannot imagine a world without the sounds and rhythms of the Gombeys, the haunting message of Bruch’s Kol Nidrei – a composition for the cello, almost any composition and vocal delivery of Elton John, the Gregorian chants, Ravel’s Bolero, Nina Simone singing in French, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, or Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.”
Mr Phillips’ last offering here is, of course, one of the greatest Songs of Freedom ever recorded. This reaffirms Mr Phillips’ above testament that music makes one feel alive.
Finally, on how music is essential for his contemporaries, Mr Phillips opines that: “Music is the only art form that knows no age. By way of example, I know people of all ages who ‘hate’ the visual arts or the theatre, but I know no one who doesn’t have a favourite piece of music. My mother’s was the hymn: “Why should I feel discouraged?”
Music makes life better; that’s a fact. Both Mr Phillips and the experts at seniorlifepa.com will confirm that. Put succinctly: “By incorporating music into their everyday life, seniors can give their quality of life a much-needed boost. Older adults benefit from music that improves their moods, brings back older, happy memories, encourages socialization, and promotes overall mental and physical health.” (seniorlifepa.com, 2019)