How a playlist keeps my family connected to my late father

at recent days My son Jack asked me to play “Beautiful Noise” by Neil Diamond. Most seven-year-olds ask about Disney or Maine Craft Audio recording. Not Jack. Since he was 3 years old, Jack has been petting Neil Diamond.

This is not done by design. Diamond songs were among more than 1,500 songs on the iPod family. But I soon discover that Jack’s love for Neil Diamond could become the thread that connected him to my late father, who died when Jack was four years old.

The legendary singer was among my father’s favorite artists. Every time he heard “Sweet Caroline,” Dad would join the chorus with a deaf singing voice as if on stage at the Hollywood Bowl. Now when I pick up that tune on our iPod—and hear Jack singing along the back of my pickup truck—I feel a deep connection to my dad.

The use of music to strengthen family bonds turned out to be unfounded. Studies like This post is in Behavioral and brain sciencesShow preschoolers form social bonds, based in part on song. By age two or three, children can reproduce the songs sung by caregivers in a noticeable tone and tone, and children show greater fluency in song than in speech.

“Music transcends any age, language, religion or cultural background,” says anthropologist Luke Glowacki, a professor at Boston University. “It provides a mechanism to bring people together and help them adapt to new environments and overcome challenges.”

Studies like This post is in American Psychology She points out that music acts as a powerful tool for strengthening social bonds, even when people are physically apart. The networks in your brain that are involved in singing overlap with those of social affiliation and connectedness. Additionally, singing along to your favorite tunes activates the brain’s reward system, flooding the body with chemicals like bonding. dopamine And oxytocin.

The deeper you dig, the more you want to take advantage of music’s supernatural ability to dig into memories and bring people together. My first idea was to create a playlist of my dad’s favorite tunes. Whether you use Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music or SoundCloud, most playlist apps have technology that helps you design playlists from just a few song titles. But according to Patrick Savage, Director of Keio University Music Lab In Fujisawa, Japan, you can create a more meaningful playlist by talking to your loved ones and selecting songs that remind you of the memories you’ve shared.

So I started a text thread between my multigenerational family with two questions: “Which songs remind you of my dad?” and “Do you have a specific memory associated with each song on your list?”

Their responses revealed things I didn’t know about my father. Mom texted that dad fell in love with the Beach Boys “Surfing Safari”, then tried surfing and failed (as evidenced by the scar on his cheek). My sister remembered my father singing Barry Manilow’s “I Made It Through the Rain” during long road trips. And my brother-in-law would chime in with my dad’s memory trying to perfect his moves into “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” and almost took half the people on the dance floor.

I added each of these songs to a shared Spotify playlist called “Dad” and encouraged my relatives to add more to the queue. Fortunately for my tech-averse family at times, creating a playlist was as easy as tapping three dots to add songs, share the list, and collaborate. In this way, creating a playlist becomes an interactive memory path for the whole family – and an exciting upgrade from the days when you had to buy music, create a mixtape, and ship a copy to each family member.

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