What Do You Feel When You Hear Music?

In an unusual, thought-provoking program, Honens Prize Laureate Nicolas Namoradze took residents of Garrison Green on an interesting exploration of emotions, imagination and sound during an hour-long visit this week.

Nicolas Namoradze at an earlier performance for residents. Photo taken prior to COVID
Nicolas Namoradze at an earlier performance for residents. Photo taken prior to COVID.

United’s partnership with Honens often brings extremely high-calibre performers such as Nicolas into the community for unique, one-on-one programs. Besides being one of the best pianists in the world, Nicolas also has a keen interest in neuroscience, especially in how the brain and body interpret music.

He led residents through several mindfulness exercises intended to sharpen their awareness around the subtleties of the music he played.

“By being completely aware when listening to music, we can get a much richer experience.” He played a piece by Rachmaninoff and asked residents to imagine what the music was saying. The results were as varied as the listener. One said it brought to mind a storm and its aftermath, another talked about life and death and another was reminded of a passionate affair.

Nicolas performing for residents after a mindfulness exercise
Nicolas performing for residents after a mindfulness exercise.

“The various sounds in the music stimulate our imaginations in different ways. Sometimes it’s visual, sometimes it’s emotional,” said Nicolas. “But there is almost always a physical component. We may not be aware of it but we also listen to music with our bodies.”

Some music, such as rock, jazz or swing makes you want to move, while other music induces relaxation. He then played a series of pieces by Bach. “Pay attention to how these pieces affect you physically. Listen not only with your ears but with your whole body.”

He encouraged residents to listen to the nuances in the music – to hear the various layers of sound that occur not only in the foreground but in the background as well.

“We are often not in tune with the impact that music can have on us both physically and mentally,” said Nicolas. “The program today was meant to raise that awareness, which gives us a richer experience of the music we are hearing.”

Resident Judy Bannatyne was impressed with Nicolas’s performance. “It was a real treat to listen to him perform. You listen to music with every fibre of your being. You can see how the music affects the performer and the listener. The more you listen to music the more you’re affected by it.”

Honens will hold a fundraising concert called the Honens Pro-Am at the Bella Concert Hall on November 27th, which residents will be attending. Learn more here.

Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.

Don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour at your convenience. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.