Music takes me back, and helps my brain, so win-win

Columnist Loren Else says favorite tunes get my toes tapping and my synapses firing.

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig
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Growing up in Sandstone, Minnesota, my community had a youth center across the road from our high school baseball and football fields. The youth center was an old railroad depot that had been moved to the site. It was a cool place.

During dances, girls were on one side of the building, and boys were on the other. Walking across the great divide wasn't easy. Unfortunately, that beautiful old depot no longer stands.

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I recall walking into the youth center over 50 years ago on a cold wintry Friday evening and hearing "In the Midnight Hour" being played. I was probably trying to make a late, fashionable entrance. It wasn't Wilson Pickett singing, but the band sounded great.

Music became a deep part of the Boomers' identity, and we carry our "oldies" music in our hearts and soul to this day. Sandstone even had a rock 'n' roll band composed of five guys from town. The band did well in its day and had a few dates at our youth center. The KanDells were inducted into the Mid-American Music Hall of Fame in 2008. You can find their music on the web. They were awesome dudes – still are.

If I wish to step away from the world – for a moment - I do that with music. I put on a pair of headphones and pull up some classic rock, like "Time Of The Season" by The Zombies.


My wife gives me a look if I start moving around as I mouth the words to a song like "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield or a country tune like "Down To The Honky Tonk" by Jake Owens. Music takes me back, makes me smile, reflect or even shed a tear.

I recently discovered an article while reviewing the Rochester Daily Post and Record newspaper dated August 24, 1922 – almost 100 years ago. Various music types were played to patients at the Rochester State Hospital to determine if music could help with their well-being.

Positive reactions were seen.

Selections included violin music, piano and even a bass solo with a bit of blues sound. The results were promising that music could assist in the mood of nervous and mental health disorders. By golly, they were onto something in 1922.

Flash forward to current studies and reports stating music provides a total brain workout. Music benefits your life. It helps with anxiety, mental alertness, memory and happiness. WebMD reported that your brain lights up like a Christmas tree when you listen to music. Classical, rock, or country – it doesn't matter.

I thought I'd chat with an expert. Martha Kenne, who retired from teaching in 2019, taught music in Dover-Eyota and Rochester for 28 years. She taught at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.

Martha reflected on the "a-ha moments" she witnessed when students would begin to understand music in a more profound way. She saw many students struggle in particular coursework yet shine in music and the arts. For certain students, music became their outlet.

Music is a lifetime love and vocation for Martha and her entire family. At times, the family gathers at the baby grand piano in her home to play and sing. Martha also has her mom's organ, a pump organ, a violin, a few guitars, an accordion, and a bunch of percussion instruments and harmonicas in her home. (I couldn't list everything because of a word limit to my column).


I never learned to play an instrument. It was my bad. I played sports, like baseball, which reminds me of the great song "Centerfield" by John Fogerty. Man does my brain light up when I hear that one.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at .

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