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  • Writer's pictureAlison Burmeister

Music Mends Minds

Updated: Apr 30

In August of 2021, at 95, amidst his battle with Alzheimer's Disease, Tony Bennett called Lady Gaga by name during their final performance at Radio City Music Hall. According to Gaga, up until that evening he had been referring to her as "Sweetheart" and she wasn't even sure he knew who she was.

Despite his diagnosis, Bennett continued to perform and sing. Something happened to Bennett when the music came on. Like magic, he knew exactly what to do.

I recently had the pleasure of learning more about how music mends minds when I interviewed local Palisadian, Rudy Hornish who volunteers for "Music Mends Minds", a nonprofit organization which works with those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia and plays piano for "The Fifth Dementia" band.


In Tennessee William’s play “The Glass Menagerie, the son says “The play is memory. Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic. In memory everything seems to happen to music.”

For many people suffering with dementia and the onset of Alzheimer’s music seems to be the key to memory.

Palisadian Rudy Hornish is an active volunteer for Music Mends Minds, a nonprofit organization that creates musical support groups for individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, PTSD and other neurological disorders.

Hornish has witnessed first-hand the magical connection of memory and music. “Do gooder, is not my middle name,” said Hornish, who is a retired New York and Los Angeles based actor (Ordinary People and Down Periscope), and worked as a producer for 11 years at Paramount Studios on Fired Up and Girlfriends.

Before joining Music Mends Minds (MMM), he thought of volunteering as “more like, something to do.” Now, it’s an important part of his life.


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