Music has permeated business settings for many years, especially the hospitality industry.
Designed music streams through restaurants and hotels to help clients relax, identify with brands, and reach for their pocket books.
Leanne Flask, from Austin, TX, has been in the vanguard of branded background music for over a decade. Now, her aural role has expanded into Co-founder, Chief Content Officer of Coro Health, where she develops streaming music for healthcare environments.
Under Flask's guidance, Coro Health's programs help stimulate cognition and alleviate depression in Alzheimer's patients. The programs are set up on streaming platforms through computers or recently launched apps for iPhone and iPad.
According to Flask, the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) is the center for music, memories, and emotions. The MPFC is one of the last sections of the brain to degenerate in Alzheimer's and remains accessible to music's therapeutic effect.
Alzheimer's patients can lose familiarity with their families, but a song can facilitate the return of memory. Long-term patients with Alzheimer's will talk during familiar songs and recognize family members.
"Alzheimer's brings on stress and sadness for patient and family members," Flask said. "Interaction with family members becomes meaningful by playing a variety of designed music."
Flask’s initiation into music's healing effects began with studies in classical piano, oboe, and opera. She volunteered for a high school program for children with special needs, practicing her musical theater songs during supervision.
While sitting on the floor and singing, a non-communicative autistic boy approached her and crawled up on her lap, put his hands on her throat, and began humming with her. She realized that music was much more powerful than she’d thought.
"It plays in space, and makes us react on many levels."
As a business woman, she branched into branding and music and gained success in music design. But she returned home to Kansas to visit her mother who'd suffered an aneurysm.
“She used to play for me when I sang opera, so I sang for her,” said Flask. "She didn’t recognize anyone else but she recognized me and sang with me.”
Flask predicts that Coro Health's concept will gain wider acceptance in the aging community. “The technology of therapeutic music will evolve,” she said. “All that’s needed is a cell phone or a computer or a tablet.”
Creation of meaningfully designed music gives hope to people with Alzheimer's and their families.