Memories can be triggered in a variety of different ways. Sights, sounds, smells, music, and tastes can all take us back immediately to a certain time or place. Seasonal changes tend to trigger the most memories for me, and summer is one of those times.
Sometimes memories can be evoked through the normal course of our day. We pass a coffee shop, smell the fresh brew, and remember how Grandma always had a pot on for Grandpa. Seeing the first daffodils bloom in spring might remind us of our grade school teacher who always had them on her desk. Tasting a hot hamburger off the grill might take us back to football tailgating in college.
Music can also trigger memories. Maybe there’s a song that reminds you of your first love, or a school dance, or a special family member. Sometimes a certain song plays on the radio, and we suddenly think “wow, I haven’t thought about *that* [person/place/event] in a long time!”
Of course, there are also those songs that remind us of times we’d rather forget—bad breakups, loss of loved ones, traumatic events. It’s inevitable that we’ll hear those triggering songs. At times it might be healthy and healing to allow ourselves to remember difficult memories and emotions. That helps us to work through those feelings and move towards resolving them.
We can use this to our advantage by purposefully listening to music that elicits positive or happy memories. When I want to think about the relationships I have with friends from college, I listen to our song. When I’m feeling nostalgic about my wedding day, I’ll listen to the song that played while I walked down the aisle. There’s a certain album/CD that I like to play a few times every summer because it reminds me of the last summer I spent taking classes in college (before joining the Grown Up Adult World of bill-paying and mortgages).
So think about the songs that make up your life. Which ones remind you of things you want to think about more often? What songs bring up happy, positive feelings? Which ones make you remember the loving, supportive people around you? What songs give you comfort? Listen to those more often.
If you’re curious about how music therapy can help you, please feel free to contact me anytime. I’m always happy to answer questions!
~Stephanie Bolton, MA, MT-BC, FAMI