Mind&Melody Utilizes The Power Of Music

Mind&Melody Co-Founder and President Cristina Rodriguez, center, is joined by volunteers Megan Croshaw Hank, left, and Donavan Price of Enterprise Bank & Trust. Courtesy photo

A participant of the Mind&Melody program at BeeHive Homes, Frank, smiles as he is serenaded recently with a good morning song. Courtesy photo

By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
kirsten@ladailypost.com

Mind&Melody is using the power of music to reach out and help those in need.

Others in the community are taking notice of this nonprofit organization and its work. Los Alamos Community Foundation awarded Mind&Melody a $5,000 grant to establish a music program at BeeHive Homes, 110 Longview Dr. in White Rock. Additionally, Enterprise Bank & Trust provided a $2,500 grant to start a second music program at Sombrillo Nursing Home in October.

Mind&Melody Co-Founder and President Cristina Rodriguez said both grants are invaluable. It allows Mind&Melody to increase its capacity and offer new programs in Los Alamos.

“We are really happy to receive these grants,” she said.

Los Alamos Community Foundation (LACF) Executive Director Steve Laurent said they were happy to support Mind&Melody.

“The Community Foundation was pleased to provide a $5,000 capacity building grant last spring to support Mind& Melody in establishing a music enrichment program at the BeeHive,” he said. “With Cristina’s track record, it was clear how the program could benefit local seniors, including those living with cognitive impairments, by connecting them with musicians, students and even a lost part of themselves through music. The program is strong on shared experience and building empathy and understanding between generations, qualities that LACF strongly supports. We wish Cristina the best and look forward to the program expanding and enriching lives in the community.”

Enterprise Bank & Trust President – Los Alamos Region Liddie Martinez also praised Mind&Melody.

“Mind&Melody is a welcomed addition to our nonprofit community and Enterprise Bank is proud to support this program,” Martinez said. “Just as we can remember the lyrics to a beloved song we have not heard since childhood, music opens the doorway to memories, emotions and joyful experiences from our youth. The work that Mind & Melody does with our seniors facing dementia is so important to quality of life and improvement of cognitive function.”

The program at BeeHive Homes began Aug. 20. It is held 10-11 a.m. every Saturday and serves seniors who are dealing with cognitive impairments. Rodriguez said she and volunteers bring instruments and albums featuring music from the 30s through 70s. The program at Sombrillo Nursing Home will be similar, but the days and times are still being determined. It will center on the nursing home’s memory care participants.

This is just the start, Rodriguez said.

“We want to reach all the senior communities here,” she said.

Music is a powerful tool for those dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s, Rodriguez said. She said research shows that early prevention for these illnesses includes diet, exercise and staying socially and mentally active. Music is another great way to combat dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“Music is a natural, nonpharmaceutical intervention,” Rodriguez said. “It is something around us that has shown time after time to make us more calm, more relaxed.”

It also can stir up memories and emotions, she added. Rodriguez recalled a participant at BeeHive Homes was asked if she would like to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. She replied with, “What key would you like?”

“It’s a tool to communicate beyond words and it helps them pull those memories out that are behind cobwebs,” Rodriguez said.

This is not only beneficial to participants but also to Rodriguez and her volunteers.

“It’s a way to bond with them and a way to keep those lasting friendships and relationships,” Rodriguez said.

Donavan Price, an Enterprise Bank employee, volunteers at BeeHive Homes as a vocalist, spoke about the experience.

“It is just very gratifying because it’s a program that hits home for me,” she said.
She explained she lost her father to dementia so “to me I’m able to carry his legacy on by giving back.”

Price said her father was a musician himself; he played the alto saxophone. Price also played alto saxophone throughout school.

Joining Price and Rodriguez is fellow musician Megan Croshaw Hank and UNM-LA intern Chrystal Valdez. Mind&Melody is new to Los Alamos, but it is not a new organization. Rodriguez helped found the organization in 2014 in Miami. When she and her husband moved to Los Alamos in 2021, she expanded Mind&Melody’s operations.

Successfully expanding Mind&Melody requires getting the word out about the organization and some patience, she said. It also helps to receive a lot of support from the local community, she said. Plus, Rodriguez noted she didn’t have to start the organization from scratch, she was able to utilize the model and structure created in Florida.

“We definitely have a structure, a mold,” Rodriguez said. “We know the steps to take to grow the program and train people.”

For more information, email Rodriguez at cristina@mindandmelody.org or visit mindandmelody.org.

Mind&Melody Volunteer Megan Croshaw Hank leads an activity where participants conducted the speed (tempo) of the music with fall leaves. Courtesy photo

Mind&Melody Volunteer Megan Croshaw Hank plays ‘Country Roads’ on the ukulele. Courtesy photo

Video of a good morning song performed for residents of BeeHive Homes by Mind&Melody volunteers. Courtesy/Mind&Melody

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