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Dreaming of Broadway, North Texas woman finds calling in music therapy

Madison Michel noticed the power of music when she sang to her grandma, who suffered from dementia.

DALLAS — Ventana by Buckner, a retirement community in Dallas, is not Broadway, and it’s far from the New York City stage that Madison Michel dreamed of one day performing on.

“No, it’s not what I envisioned when I was 18, but does anybody do what they envision when they’re 18,” Michel said. “Maybe some people.”

After setting aside her Broadway ambitions, Michel turned to music therapy, partly because her grandpa pioneered it and partly because her grandma needed it.

Her grandma suffered from dementia. Michel and her mom often sang to her grandma and when they did, something changed.

“She was able to connect with us in a raw and wonderful way,” Michel said.

Now, every month, Michel and the team from Heart and Harmony music therapy work with residents suffering memory loss at Ventana.

People like Marion Dewey. She’s battling Alzheimer’s and her husband, Dick, believes music therapy helps.

“I think she was smiling when the song was playing because she recognized it,” Dewey said after a recent music therapy session.

Stories like that are common.

Ventana’s assisted living and memory care director Margie Campbell said when family members visit, residents often recognize more than just music.

“They look at them and they look in their eyes and go, ‘hey, I know you,’” Campbell said.

This kind of work will never win Michel a Tony Award, but it has been equally rewarding.

“Music therapy is definitely where I’m meant to be,” Michel said.

It’s not Broadway, but from the look in residents’ eyes, it’s one powerful performance.

For more information on Heart and Harmony Music Therapy visit https://www.heartandharmony.com/. To learn about Ventana by Buckner, visit https://www.ventanabybuckner.com/.

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