Posted on 11/01/2016

Keys to Memory
is a project to benefit Alzheimer's patients that has been started by members of Oklahoma Music Teachers Association in collaboration with former First Lady of Oklahoma Cathy Keating and Yamaha Corporation Wellness Consultant Lori Frazer. The project was started with the idea that music can stir memories even in patients who have difficulty recognizing family members. The project's pilot site is the memory unit of Oklahoma Methodist Manor, an assisted and extended living center in Tulsa. 

A Clavinova CVP 705 was chosen for the program because of its versatility and was provided by private donors. Lori Frazer flew to Tulsa and trained the caregivers so they can operate the instrument to play hundreds of songs and pieces. The caregivers were also trained to work with the patients so they can have their own musical experiences by "following the lights" and play for themselves. Tulsa Area Music Teachers are providing teacher and student volunteers to play or perform on the Clavinova several times per week.

Even though the instrument has been in the unit a short time the effect has been amazing. It is calming for the patients and has created an ambiance over the entire unit. The caregivers are also enjoying the music. Several patients have, for the first time since arriving at the unit, shown emotion and spoken in complete sentences. A neurologist attributes that to the music.

We are hoping the program will grow. It is the intention of project director Karen Harrington and organizers to place Clavinovas in facilities around the state as soon as funds are available. We have some leads and are in the process of acquiring funds. Several Alzheimer's facilities have shown an interest and are being investigated.