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The musical note that changed a family’s perspective on dementia Print E-mail
Written by FHInews   
Tuesday, 05 March 2019 17:42
Music is a universal language, it speaks to all of us regardless of age, race, or mental ability.

Mind&Melody a 501(c)3 for-impact organization was born out of passion to bring one of humanity’s greatest gifts: music, to individuals with neurological impairments while engaging young people in the process.

In 2014, Co-Founders Cristina Rodriguez and Lauren Koff partnered with the FAU Memory & Wellness Center and began their journey.

“One of our dearest memories is of David, a professional violinist who stopped playing due to his dementia. He usually sat quietly, withdrawn, with a blank stare. One day, we put a viola in his hands and encouraged him to play alongside another violinist and he lit up completely, smiling ear to ear. A smile we had never seen before. That’s when we realized we wanted to dedicate our lives to Mind&Melody,” Rodriguez said.

Alzheimer's not only steals memories from our loved ones; it steals their personality, humor, independence and eventually it steals them from us altogether.

According to Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs, there are more than 500,000 people with Alzheimer’s in Florida. There is no cure but there is still hope to improve the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer's. 

Born 1930 in Perth Scotland, Alexandra would have been described as bright, assertive and capable. Alexandra was a former member of the Royal Air Force during the Cold War and later in life became the Vice President of Royal Caribbean Cruises. By 2006, Alexandra had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A disease that has deteriorated her physical and mental health.

One of Alexandra’s caretakers heard an interview of Cristina on the radio and told Sandra about Mind&Melody. Sandra, Alexandra’s sister-in-law, quickly arranged for her to visit Alexandra to see if they could provide help.

“Alexandra seemed to interact from the start by tapping her feet. This was totally unexpected,” Sandra Said.

Alexandra has Mind&Melody sessions 3 times per week for 1 hour. Estefania, a Mind&Melody Session Leader, sings and plays the piano for Alexandra and the caretakers participate with maracas while dancing and clapping to Frank Sinatra, Vera Lynn and Scottish folk music.

During the sessions Alexandra puts words together, shows awareness: “I asked Alexandra a question: Alexandra, do you love me? She looked at me, she was thinking and she said: Yes, I love you. That was awesome because she understood what I was asking her and also said it with her heart.” Estefania said.

“My husband and I have been shown that here is still something positive going on in Alexandra’s brain. We had all become used to thinking of her as a person with dementia, unable to communicate or appreciate what is happening around her. I think one of the most significant improvements in her life are the music sessions,” Sandra said. 

Mind&Melody creates transformative music experiences for over 1000 older adults in over 40 health care facilities and at the comfort of individuals’ homes in South Florida.
Contact Mind&Melody at 305-582-1006, email or go to

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2019 17:45

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