Josephine Yalovitser of Rye Brook, New York has volunteered at the King Street Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for seven years. She started at the age of nine and has since brought her talent and love of music to King Street.
For King Street residents, Yalovitser plays the piano, guitar, and engages seniors in sing-along activities. Through the years, she has developed a strong bond with the residents. They love to hear all types of music, especially that of their era, which Yalovitser has learned to play for them.
During her time at the nursing facility, Yalovitser began to notice how music could make the residents wake up, both literally and figuratively. They would start nodding their heads and tapping their feet to the beat.
After a while, she began thinking of ways to help improve the resident’s memory, and started researching the causes of memory loss, and ways on preventing such loss. When Yalovitser learned that autobiographical music can improve memory, she became inspired to start her own music therapy program, which she called “Music x Memory=Miracle.”
Yalovitser compiled a list of several hundred songs from the 1920s to the 1990s, highlighting the main hits from each decade. Then, she started one-on-one sessions with seniors. Analyzing and noting which songs specifically affected which resident, Josephine came up with selections of autobiographical music for each senior.
Yalovitser’s music therapy program “Music x Memory= Miracle” is aimed to reawaken memories in patients with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or trauma-related memory deficiencies. Memory is an essential part of person’s identity and happiness. Returning memory back is congruent to returning a person’s life back. It proved to be a success at King Street Nursing Home, and it raised interest from nursing facilities in Westchester area.
Yalovitser, a high school senior, is a passionate activist at her school, and dedicates a lot of her time to her community. She has won many musical awards, highlighted by appearances at Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall and Lincoln Center. She is modest in acknowledging her talents. Many of the residents call her a “modern day Mozart.”