Earlier today I caught a piece of music I hadn’t heard for 30 or more years. Suddenly I could smell the polish from school days, and memories & emotions came flooding back. It reminded me that although my Dad lost the ability to express himself with words in later years he was still able to play the piano, bringing great joy to himself and us. This experience of music linking deep within our minds is recognised in formal care, with musicians visiting care homes to entertain and stimulate memories with sing-songs and music quizzes.
At home I still have a vinyl collection, CDs, and also a number of songs in digital format. But I love listening to music on the Spotify music streaming service with Amazon Echo as it makes a trip down memory lane so simple, by making it possible to explore music very easily. After the school-days song had finished, with a few simple voice commands to my Amazon Echo I reached back in time with other songs from my youth and this got me experimenting with other musical genres popular in past decades such as Big Band, film tracks from old films, and famous popular composers such as Irving Berlin. I explored further, choosing a pretty obscure composer and listening to his music, then music from every period I could think of. I experienced a complete Transport of Delight (for Flanders and Swann fans): whatever I searched for on Spotify, I found in some form (although religious / worship music seems the most limited). I didn’t have to fumble with vinyl, CDs or wait for the songs to be chosen on the radio. I could search for a song, album or a genre sitting comfortably and just talking to Alexa, the voice assistant for the Echo. For example:
“Alexa, play music by Irving Berlin on Spotify.”
“Playing music by Irving Berlin on Spotify.”
This started with White Christmas, which didn’t seem right in the summer.
“Alexa what song is this?”
“Anything you can do I can do better by Irving Berlin.”
“Alexa, turn it up.”
I did not buy the Echo solely to listen to music, but coupled with Spotify, it is the best feature I’ve discovered so far, and suitable for anyone with an interest in music, whatever their age. Setting it up can be quite involved, and the service works best once a Play List or two have been created. But the catalogue is huge and it remains simple to use without even opening an app. So simple, in fact, that I rarely get to listen to the music of my choice now, as my family are always asking Alexa to play their musical choices!