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Music Therapy Helps Idaho Seniors Remember the Past

If you’ve ever wondered, “Does music therapy work?” check out this excellent piece by KTVB’s Bonnie Shelton:

EAGLE (KTVB) — An Idaho musician is using his talents to help senior citizens relive the past through the music that helped shape their lives.

The music therapy program is headlined by guitar player Bruce Biggs. The former pastor loves music and sharing it with others. Each month, he travels across the state playing shows for a unique audience.

On Tuesday, he performed at Paramount Parks, an assisted living center for seniors in Eagle.

“Hey how are you? It’s nice to see you again,” Biggs adds as he warms up his guitar.

Because St. Patrick’s Day falls in March, Biggs plays some of his favorite Irish songs. The show begins with “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”

The tune is familiar to many of the residents who aren’t afraid to sing along. Biggs says the music isn’t just for entertainment. These songs can bring back some powerful memories. Memories of first love, learning to drive a car and even marriage.

“When we’re hearing a song and singing along with a song, it’s involving so many parts of our brain,” he explains.

“I think you grow up with music,” said Paramount Parks resident Dorothy Coy.

While he’s never trained in music therapy, Biggs uses a background in social work and hospice care to relate to residents. He’s also been playing instruments and learning songs since he was six-years-old.

“I know how to approach people therapeutically with music,” Biggs told KTVB.

From “Chickery Chick” to “This Old House,” Biggs chooses his songs strategically.

“I’ve intentionally chosen songs back when most of these folks were teenagers and that’s a strong memory for them,” he said.

Residents at Paramount enjoyed the show and the trip down memory lane.

“It’s just the rhythm of your life. I think it’s wonderful,” added Dorothy Coy.

Biggs travels to about 20 facilities across Idaho playing music and sharing stories. Although he used to work for a hospice service, he’s now branching out on his own.

For more information about Bruce Biggs and his music, you can email him at bigchap8@gmail.com or call 208-880-3356.

Credit: Eric Turner (video), Bonnie Shelton (article)

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