Music and Memory

Friday, December 21, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 21, 2012) — Saint Joseph's University entertainment marketing students are helping the elderly get their groove back, and hopefully their memories at the same time. The students recently partnered with a nonprofit organization, Music and Memory, to raise awareness, fundraise and collect iPod donations for the organization, which brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology, vastly improving their quality of life.

"Researchers have learned that music helps those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories," says Dan Cohen, M.S.W., the founder of Music and Memory. In April 2012, a documentary about the organization's work, Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory, was screened at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. A video clip of Henry, one of the residents reawakened by music, went viral with more than seven million views.

Cohen says, "The resulting outpouring of interest and support for our work gives us great hope that our vision of personalized music as a gold standard of elder care will be realized."

Janée N. Burkhalter, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, learned about Music and Memory via Twitter and approached Cohen about the idea of having her entertainment marketing students contribute to this effort.

"When you watch Henry's video, you remember that our lives have soundtracks — the songs danced to at prom, hymns sung at Sunday service or lullabies sung to children. The music helps us all remember," says Burkhalter. "It's really been incredible to see how enthusiastic the students have been throughout the semester to work with this organization."

This fall, students enrolled in Burkhalter's entertainment marketing course first tackled the project by developing a marketing plan for Music and Memory. The second major event was a raffle during the SJU-Villanova basketball game, which garnered numerous donations. The students' efforts for the semester culminated in a December Rock to Remember concert hosted in partnership with the University's record label, 1851 Records and radio station, Radio 1851.

For the undergraduates, bringing music to the elderly has been a way to link, or harmonize, the gap between the generations.

"Music, regardless of genre, carries a special meaning for everybody," says Jen Costabile '13, one of the students involved with the project. "As a class, we often wondered what songs we would be listening to when we are 75-years-old that would take us back to our youth."

For more information about the students' effort, or to donate an iPod or contribute financial support, visit

Media Contact

Carolyn Steigleman, Director of University Communications, Haub School of Business, 610-660-1355,


As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


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