Disclaimer: This is transcribed using AI. Expect (funny) errors.
Mindy Peterson: [00:00:00] I’m Mindy Peterson. And this is Enhance Life with Music, a holistic look at the power of music in our everyday lives. Joining me today from the land down under, Sydney, Australia, to be exact, is Stephen Hunt, co-founder and CEO of Music Health. Steve is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience leading and operating businesses in the media, technology and music industries. That has included a role at Universal Music Group in the past. Welcome to Enhance Life with Music, Steve.
Stephen Hunt: [00:00:34] Thank you so much, Mindy. I’m a big fan of the show and it’s an honor to be here with you. So thanks for having me.
Mindy Peterson: [00:00:40] Well, thanks. Well, I am especially excited about this conversation. We’re talking today about Music Health’s music app, Viera, which is for those with dementia. And when I read Music Health’s mission statement on its website, I lit up about five times while reading the two short sentences. And here’s the mission statement for listeners from your website. It says, We are building the future of digital music wellness by creating digital music experiences that empower people to take control of their own mental and physical well-being with ease. Music Health is a young and fast growing company with a blue sky opportunity to make a difference. So, so many things in there that immediately just jumped out at me and I was like, Oh, my goodness. On this show, we spotlight music’s holistic power to enhance every aspect of life. And definitely one of my personal favorite arenas to discuss is this overlap of music and medicine or music and health and wellness. So and especially excited about today’s conversation.
Stephen Hunt: [00:01:49] Me too.
Mindy Peterson: [00:01:49] Well, before we dive into what the Viera app is and how it works, tell us about your personal connection. I understand you have a personal connection to dementia and to music’s ability to enhance life for people that are touched by dementia. Tell us about that.
Stephen Hunt: [00:02:04] Absolutely. I was born into a musical family, actually, and from the age of five, my parents put me into piano lessons, which I loved at first. And then I grew to kind of hate as I got older because I was like, Oh, no. Yeah. I was forced into this world of learning classical music, and all I wanted to play was Billy Joel and Elton John’s songs. And anyways, but I that I grew up with a love for it and I ended up moving on to guitar and just taught myself all the stuff I wanted to play. It was great. And but I don’t I don’t, I should say I fully support my parents and what they were trying to do. I get it. And I and I’ve thanked them a million times over for the gift.
Mindy Peterson: [00:02:49] But some piano teachers are a little more receptive to doing pop music than others. There are definitely those purists who want to do nothing but classical music and teach their students nothing but classical music.
Stephen Hunt: [00:03:03] Totally. But yeah, my grandparents were all musical as well. I had on my mum’s side, they were Dutch immigrants who didn’t speak a lot of English. And then on my dad’s side, they retired to a farm and my grandfather on that side actually developed Alzheimer’s when I was a young teenager. And that became really tricky because he was on a farm and he used to, you know. To begin with, you got the early signs where he was a bit confused or forgetful, and then he started to wonder. And he was such a strong physical man because he’d worked the land and he would just be gone for kilometres and kilometres before someone would work out where he was. And and that became really challenging and eventually became too much. And he had to be moved into a care home facility in here in Australia. And when we went to visit him over the course of probably a ten year period, I guess as he declined, one of the things that became more and more obvious was just how music impacted him and supported him. And, and he exhibited a lot of changing behaviours, which is very common for people with dementia and they were often very challenging for the people trying to care for him. But one of the things that would always soothing was music and he actually played the ukulele himself, so I ended up learning a few songs on ukulele.
Stephen Hunt: [00:04:29] But at this point in my in my life, I had no idea of why. It just seemed kind of obvious that someone who likes music would enjoy it as an activity. And and then when he passed some many decades later, actually, my grandmother, his wife developed mild cognitive decline. So it was dementia as well, but it was never diagnosed as Alzheimer’s. But she lived to the ripe old age of 100. And and by the time she passed, she was really. Struggling to. But again, music just seemed to soothe. And then it wasn’t until probably 2020 when I saw a film called Alive Inside, which is an amazing film about the music and memory program. It sounds like you know it. Yeah. And, and then and that’s what really motivated us to, to come up with Veera but alive inside just demonstrated the science behind what was happening. And once I understood that I was absolutely blown away and also very moved. So as my co-founder Nick that that impact needed to be spread. And what we saw in the program was a lot of amazing people doing a really heavy lift to try to deploy this amazing impact on people with dementia.
Stephen Hunt: [00:05:50] And for those of your listeners who don’t know what happens if you play music that is personally significant to someone with dementia, it actually lights up the whole brain a bit like a Christmas tree, if you were to say it on an fMRI scan or something like that. And what’s actually happening is that with triggering a long term memory, which is still very much intact, and then that when you listen to music at all, it’s actually a full brain workout. So it’s the most powerful natural stimulant for our brains. And for someone who’s experiencing dementia where brain activity is quite suppressed, suddenly we have a lot of activity and and you can see all sorts of amazing things come back, like their ability to use their hands to talk, to remember. And of course, you get things that we all know, like an uplifting mood, and you get those smiles. But but really what it can do is it can cut through that confusion and almost quicken somebody back into a state where they’re much more lucid and present. And so that can have amazing benefits. But we we just saw the opportunity to scale that, and that’s what we did.
Mindy Peterson: [00:06:54] Yeah, well, I remember vividly watching that movie and just being so impacted by watching footage of some of these people who had dementia who were virtually unresponsive because of the progression of the disease. They didn’t really recognise loved ones and it was almost eerie to watch them really come alive when they heard music that they enjoyed in their youth and just how they not only became responsive but became verbal and talking and reminiscing. It stimulated memories, long term memories from years and decades ago. And so it really was impactful to watch that. And as you were talking about your personal experience, too, there’s definitely similarities in my story in the sense that I have a grandfather who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and died with that. I have a mom who has traumatic brain injury from a car accident from two, gosh, 25 going almost 30 years ago. And while that’s different than dementia and Alzheimer’s, there is some there’s some overlap, some similarities. And actually, anecdotally, I heard you mentioned that your family is Dutch and my family’s. So my my maiden name is Van Dyke. I grew up in West Michigan, where there are lots of Dutch people. And that part of Michigan, they say, if you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much. So that’s kind of that’s kind of the saying in the Grand Rapids area.
Stephen Hunt: [00:08:25] Well, my mum was a van der Mast, so.
Mindy Peterson: [00:08:28] Oh, there you go.
Stephen Hunt: [00:08:30] Very close.
Mindy Peterson: [00:08:30] There you go. Yes. And I think there are so many of us who have been touched by Alzheimer’s. I think there probably aren’t many of us who haven’t. And I just came back from visiting a loved one on my husband’s side in California who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and recently went to live in a memory care facility. So, you know, there’s so many of us who have been touched with this disease, whether it’s Alzheimer’s specifically or dementia in general, you often reference the science of music’s impact on this condition. Is there a particular study or resource that has especially caught your attention that you want to mention?
Stephen Hunt: [00:09:09] Yeah, absolutely. I think when we set out to create the company, of course, we did a lot of investigating before we made the jump and created a company. And I was blown away at the actual depth of academic research that had been done on music in various forms, whether it be music therapy or whether it be live performance and all sorts of different things. And it was clear to me that the evidence base already existed and that if we were to build a company, of course we would continue to do research with our tool. And we’ve done that. We weren’t really needing to convince people of what was happening. It was really quite proven. But I think if you’re if you’re interested in going deep on a few more recent studies, it was a brilliant one out of UC Davis. So this was with music and memory. And over three years, they studied over 4000 residents in 265 nursing homes, and they found that the use of antipsychotic drugs declined by 13%, antianxiety medications declined by 17%, and this was each quarter. So in a very short time frame and the odds of depressive symptoms decreased 16% per quarter and the odds of pain being reported decreased 17%. And in addition to all of that amazingness, the number of days on medication declined by 30%, as well as seeing aggressive behaviors reduced by 20%.
Stephen Hunt: [00:10:41] So I guess when you look at that, there’s there’s a few things to unpack because one of the things we’ve thought long and hard about are the incentives of everybody who plays a role. And of course, you’ve got the person experiencing dementia. That’s where we started our focus and it’s pretty obvious we want to improve their quality of life and hopefully try to reduce those aggressive behaviors which the UC Davis study proved. But when you reduce those behaviors, that means that we’re also supporting their carer because that’s the hardest part of caring for somebody with dementia. And then when we can reduce the medication by 30%, that saves a huge amount of money. So now we’ve got the care facility that they are involved in, which has got less negative, aggressive behaviors, but also less medication in cost. You’ve got the insurers who are paying less in costs and have less risk, and suddenly you have an ecosystem which is benefiting hugely just simply by rolling out personally significant music. And so I think that is really, really exciting. The other one I’d love to mention is Toronto University. I believe that was this year actually. It got released and they actually demonstrated that you could change the neural pathways in someone without signs positively. Now that was really interesting.
Mindy Peterson: [00:12:01] Because.
Stephen Hunt: [00:12:01] We think, yeah, so they did a daily program of personally significant music and it showed that exposing the brains of the patients who had a more early stage of cognitive decline, it activated a distinct neural network, which they called a musical network, and that was composed of different brain regions, like I was mentioning before, how the brain has to work in concert to listen to music and process music, and that showed differences in activation after a period of daily listening. So what that was showing was neuroplasticity in someone who’s we brain is what we expect to see is just this atrophy in the brain declining and shutting down. But by listening to that person they significant music on a daily basis they would say actually we’re seeing new pathways forming and almost some form of resistance to that decline. And so why that’s really exciting is it suggests that listening to music personally, significant music in a regular basis could prevent or at least slow down the progression of cognitive decline. And again, more research will need to be done to sort of validate that over a longer period of time. But it’s it’s a really exciting suggestion that music could play a role in prevention. Yeah. So we’ll see where it goes.
Mindy Peterson: [00:13:18] Yeah. Well, that’s those are some really powerful studies that you’re mentioning. And I definitely want to talk more about the benefits that you’re talking about. But first, tell us more about the app. Vera, how does it work?
Stephen Hunt: [00:13:30] Yeah, Vera is actually designed for the carer, believe it or not. So we set out when we were designing it as as a sort of mentioned to impact the person with dementia and lift their, their quality of life. And our first prototype that we developed, we used in a care home and we did some research which demonstrated that we could lift that on average by 17% in just two weeks. So we were like, Oh, great, this works. Here we go, we’ve got a product, let’s get moving. But then we realised actually to get the music to be played, it wasn’t always going to be the person who’s experiencing the dementia, who’s going to decide, Hey, I want to listen to music right now. I’m going to hit play. In fact, that was very rarely going to be the case and so we realised that the person who would make that decision was their carer. And so then we had to start unpacking. Okay, what are their incentives? How can we help them, what are the challenges they experience and how can music support them? Because if we can get them wanting to use music more often, then we know from the study that we’re going to be able to impact the person we set out to help in the first place. And so so we’ve developed Vera and now a product called Vera Pro, which are both designed for two types of carer. So Vera is designed for the informal carer or the person who is at home looking after one person.
Stephen Hunt: [00:14:56] And then we have Vera Pro, which is to. Designed for someone who is in a more formal setting, who has to look after multiple people at once. And so think of someone like either a lifestyle coordinator in a care home or a caregiver themselves who’s going and maybe doing the rounds within a care home with multiple people. But the way it works is when you sign up, we get you to answer a couple of quick questions. Where were you born? Well, this is for the person who were tailoring the music to where were they born, where did they grow up when they were 15 through to 35, that’s when the musical taste was being formed. What languages do they speak? And then we actually what we do with that information is we look into a vast database of music that we’ve licensed from Universal Music Group. So that got just about half the world’s recorded music in their database. And so we’ve got everything there from the Beatles to the Stones to Aretha Franklin, all the big hits, which is what we need, because what we’re trying to find are the songs from this person’s past that they’ve forgotten about. And that’s kind of a really interesting problem to solve because you can’t ask them and you often can’t ask the family because when we talk about this period of 15, 3 to 35 years of age, if you think about it, most of the children of this person, if they were alive, they weren’t remembering much of what was going on in that period of time.
Stephen Hunt: [00:16:21] Like generally the kids sort of their memory of what their parents would listen to kicks in when they were 40 or so. And so you’re missing out on all of this early stage stuff. And just think about your own life. Like the music you listen to when you were 15 through to 35 is just so significant to you. But so Vera will look for the hits that surrounded you where you grew up based on things like radio charts and other other forms of popular information, and then serve up the songs that we think you’ll recognize because they surrounded you. And don’t forget, things like radio play became really important because in the time where most of the people who are using our product at the moment grew up, they didn’t have CDs. If you were lucky, they might have had a few records at home. But generally the music that they were sort of forming memories and attaching memories to was what was the big hits on the radio. And so we really look for that sort of information. And then we present that back into three playlists. You’ve got one to help relax. The person want to help energize the person and then one to spend time with and reminisce with the person. So that’s how it works and it’s really, really quick. It takes about 2 minutes to be onboarded and to get those playlists up and running. And then we really encourage a good kind of two or three listening sessions where you’re giving immediate feedback to Viera just to sort of hone things in with the algorithms.
Stephen Hunt: [00:17:50] But you’ve got a love heart button on every song, and you’ve also got a trash button. So if they don’t recognize the song, you can just trash it and get it out. But if they do recognize it, when you hit love, it will ask you Do they love the song or the artist? Because they just love the artist. We might start serving more songs from that artist. If it’s just the song, then we’ll save that exact song into that reminisce playlist so that whenever they want to reminisce and talk about the past, we just hit that playlist and we know that these songs are personally significant, and you can also write a little note next to each song and actually capture the memory itself. So if, for example, they say, Oh, I love this song, it reminds me of my wedding day. Perfect, we can write that in. And then when the family come to visit, they can start playing Vera and they can start to see all these notes and they can say, Oh my goodness, apparently this song reminds me of your wedding day, which obviously I wasn’t there for. But let’s talk about that. And please play the music and have a conversation about a memory which I’ve never really heard about. And and that can be just so powerful in connecting the families so.
Mindy Peterson: [00:18:57] Well, I think that’s so smart that you have these algorithms set up in a way that and your website, I think it says it turns out the recommended songs for the people who can’t remember what they used to love because like you said, there is so much science backing up the power of music on people with dementia. And yet I’m hearing regularly from all people in this space that a lot of the people surrounding those with dementia don’t know what they loved and the people themselves can’t remember. And so I think it’s so great that you have these algorithms in terms of the three different the three different playlists that you mentioned for relax, energize and reminisce are those sort of categorizing songs based on beats per minute or how does it kind of funnel certain songs into the relaxed playlist versus the energized playlist or the reminisce?
Stephen Hunt: [00:19:51] Good question. We’ve developed our proprietary machine learning engine. So you would call this day, I guess, the brain. It listens to the audio that we ingest. And so when we licensed the millions of songs from Universal Music, this machine had to listen to all of them end to end and categorize them into things like, are they relaxing? Are they energizing? What is the beat per minute? What key are they in? So we’ve actually built a huge amount of data against every song. And then not to mention what I mentioned before, where was this song? Popular and when? Around the world. So we’ve got this enormous amount of data that we append to what would ordinarily just come in with, with some very basic information attached to a song about the artist and the album, that sort of thing. But with all of that, then we can go to work and create the actual order of the songs in these playlists, knowing that they are going to be relaxing or energizing for a start, but then also having a think about like a deejay might or these two songs actually seem to have the same key. Maybe they could go together nicely, but oh actually this one is way faster than this one. This one’s really slow. That might be a bit jarring. Or actually this one is reggae and then it’s going to go straight into classical. I don’t know if that’s going to work, you know, so there’s there’s a lot of smarts that are going on to decide the order and the flow of that listening session and to make sure that, like a deejay might you’re you might hop around genres, but you’re going to slide smoothly from one into the other over the course of a couple of songs with some sort of intermediary. And you’re not finding that one song jars against the other.
Mindy Peterson: [00:21:34] The Viera app is available for Apple and Android, right?
Stephen Hunt: [00:21:38] That’s right. Yeah. And also on Web, so.
Mindy Peterson: [00:21:41] Oh, okay, great.
Stephen Hunt: [00:21:43] Good to know. I’ve worked really hard to make sure that it’s accessible on anything you’ve got. So. Yeah, so you could imagine again, for someone who’s using it at home, we tend to find that the older generations may not have a smartphone yet or may not have made that jump, but they might be used to using a laptop at a bare minimum. And so that’s still available for them on that device. But but primarily it’s it’s the apps and it’s Android and iOS for Apple.
Mindy Peterson: [00:22:12] Well, it sounds like you’ve been very intentional about making this easy to use, whether it’s because people aren’t necessarily really tech savvy or they’re just busy. I mean, it’s an adult child who’s working full time, has kids in a house of their own, and they’re involved in caring for an aging parent or loved one. Or maybe it’s somebody working in a facility where they’re understaffed, they’re trying to serve a large population, and they just don’t have the time to be finicky with all these little gadgets for all of the individual people that they’re caring for. So it sounds like it is really easy to use.
Stephen Hunt: [00:22:50] Absolutely. And we spent a lot of time in design working with people in care homes as well as at home and of varying different tech capabilities, put it that way. So it’s it’s very simple. And we’ve made sure that it’s as easy as possible and removes as much friction as possible. Because also when we developed Vera Pro, which as I mentioned, that actually enables a carer to use one device and play some personally significant music for one person, but then they can flip the profile from the same device and go to the next room and they can be playing personally significant music to that person. So as an example, let’s just say it’s the morning and I’m maybe a nurse and I’m doing my rounds and I go into John’s room and perhaps John is feeling very sluggish and I can’t seem to motivate him to get out of bed. Or I might put on the energized playlist for John, which might start off with some nice funk and soul music or some disco or something. And I might be able to convince John after he hears a bit of that, to to shake his check his arms, move around a bit, maybe even clap along and then convince him to get up and stand up and we can get him changed and get him moving.
Stephen Hunt: [00:24:05] And so that might be really helpful. But then I might go next door to Mary and Mary might be feeling anxious and agitated and she’s maybe a bit fearful about the day ahead or the environment that she’s working up in. And so we might then decide actually for her, let’s play her some of the relaxing music she likes and see if we can calm that situation and bring her down in the way that she’s feeling and get her to feel comfortable and get her moving on on with her day as well. So it’s that kind of thing. And then you could go to the next room, maybe there’s Amy there and she’s actually displaying some very changed behaviours and and perhaps is crying out and we might decide actually what Louis Armstrong’s Beautiful World is, a song that we know she knows all the words to and she loves. Let’s play that and see if we can start to get her singing along with. Tibet and try to sort of pull that negative behavior down into something where we can actually engage and have a conversation and see if we can move her on with her day. So you can sort of see that the flexibility of it, even though it’s so simple, can be applied in different ways.
Mindy Peterson: [00:25:15] Well, that’s some of the magic of music, too, is it can both arouse and calm. It’s kind of like an adaptogenic herb that you can give it to different people for different purposes, and it will accomplish all of them. And that’s actually a really great segway into another topic I wanted to discuss. You have some intentions of how this product and the music can be used in a cure facility. You’ve said that this can actually change the way that they cure completely so that every cure interaction has music alongside it to enhance, whether it’s a physical therapy type of a session, whether it’s a visit with a family, a loved one, it can just bring the patient into a more lucid state regardless of what they’re doing, a more receptive, more responsive state. Talk to us a little bit about that model that you have in mind.
Stephen Hunt: [00:26:13] Yeah, I think the simplest way to explain this is to date. I mean, as I said, there’s plenty of evidence to to validate what music can do for someone with dementia. And that’s been around for a long time. And if you go into the industry and you look at the way music is being used to care for people with dementia, you’ll find a huge number of amazing people and programs, music therapists, community musicians. Everybody’s trying their best to deliver this same impact. The challenge is that most of what actually happens is that they think of music as just an activity because that’s basically all it has ever been able to be. You would bring maybe someone in who could organize a choir of a group of people, and that’s a beautiful thing that they can do, and they’ll probably do it once a week. And that will incredibly uplift everybody in the room. You might have a one on one session with the music therapist, and that might happen every week, too. And that’s fantastic. And in that session, they’re going to you’re going to see all these same amazing impacts and probably even more than you would with zero, because you’ve got that 1 to 1 personal interaction going on. But what has not been able to be done is for music to be the soundtrack of the care routine.
Stephen Hunt: [00:27:33] Because for somebody to walk around and as I said, do their rounds and just play a sixties playlist that might work for some people or it might annoy others. And it’s not fair to expect that those carers should have any idea of what type of music to play for anybody because they’ve got so many other things to worry about. However, we do know from even the studies I mentioned that daily exposure to personally significant music can have these profound effects. So with Vera, we think there’s an opportunity to revolutionise dementia care by empowering the carers to bring the music with them and have have the music as a soundtrack to every carer interaction in what we call the ADLs, the activities of daily living. So while we’re getting people up for the day, let’s put some music on in the background that’s appropriate to that activity based on how the person’s feeling or when maybe we’re trying to get them to eat lunch. We can put on some music and we all know how lovely it is to have a dinner party where there’s some music playing compared to when it’s silent. It’s just, you know, it changes the vibe completely. And then when we retire in the evening, which can obviously it’s famous for being a more difficult and challenging time in dementia care, again, we can bring music into that interaction and see how it can support our ability to make sure that we help this person settle down for the evening.
Stephen Hunt: [00:28:55] So we think that that is the opportunity that we’ve made it so simple and easy that you can make sure at any care interaction you are playing the right music for the right person at the right time. And if the caregivers take the opportunity to do that, we see profound impacts not just on the person they’re caring for, but also on them, on their own mental health and their own ability to do their job and enjoy their job. So everybody wins. But it does take a little bit of a leap of faith, and we do a lot of training with people when we go into a new care facility to make sure they understand the science of what’s happening. But they also that they understand the opportunity for them to improve their own life and their own job and their own effectiveness. And we know that if we get that right, as I said before, we align that incentive and then we get to improve the quality of life of the person with dementia.
Mindy Peterson: [00:29:50] Aha. I want to go back to some of the benefits that came up when you’re talking about the science behind what you’re doing. And just touch on those. We could have an entire episode, just the benefits that music can provide in this situation. But some of the ones that you already talked about, just for time sake, we won’t go into them too much. But I just want to kind of highlight these again, increased brain plasticity with those neural pathways that you mentioned can be created through the use of music in this intentional way, and that can be seen as increased lucidity, but it can also impact physical movement and enhanced mood. Quality of life improves communication as people are either more alert because of the music that’s being used or more calm. The use of music in this way can reduce depression and anxiety, stress, agitation, confusion. I know you mentioned the reduced perception of pain, and with all of these things, the thing that’s so wonderful is there’s no side effects. It’s not radical, it’s not invasive. As you mentioned, it’s very affordable and cost effective.
Stephen Hunt: [00:31:01] No, that’s right. And I mean, the only thing I would ever caution is that the occasional song can remind someone of a traumatic memory. And so we must always just be mindful of that. But I’ve only actually ever seen it happen like twice with our customers so far. And it was never a big deal. We just, you know, been that song and it doesn’t come back again, but it’s.
Mindy Peterson: [00:31:26] The trash.
Stephen Hunt: [00:31:26] Can. Quick That’s right. But but you know what? That actually in that circumstance, that information was very powerful for the music therapist that person saw. And that music therapist actually used that song to do a therapy session, which they are trained to do, and that’s completely up to them. But one thing we always make sure we’re very clear about is that if you’re not a trained music therapist, you shouldn’t be using the music as therapy itself. What we call what we call what we do is music as a therapy. It’s a slight distinction, but they are a a trained master’s level allied health profession. But as you said, there’s so many amazing things that it can do and it’s noninvasive and incredibly inexpensive. We actually just saw a study by KPMG, which was I think it was in partnership with AARP, and it laid out the economic case for using music in aged care and and how that would impact the US economy. And it was to the tune of billions of dollars. It was actually very compelling. And looking at music as a whole, like with music therapy, community musicians, choirs and even our intervention is an incredibly non expensive, very cheap and scalable piece of that pie. So we think there’s a it just proves a really great opportunity for what we’re trying to do.
Stephen Hunt: [00:32:48] But one example I wanted to leave you with was when we first did our research, we had a gentleman named Roy who had been nonverbal for I think it had been two years, and he’d been in professional care setting for almost a decade, and he suddenly became verbal again from the daily use of music. He was able to talk and his daughter wrote us this beautiful letter not long after he passed away, but just letting us know that it was so special to her to have that little bit of time with her dad again, where he could tell her about his memories of her and and some of them that the music brought up were new to her. So she got these last little bits of amazing information and precious memories that that could have slid away and got to have that little bit of extra time with her dad that she didn’t think she would again. And so so that was incredibly emboldening for my my co-founder Nick and I when we were just at that early stage. But that’s I mean, that’s an extreme case. But it’s but there’s no it won’t do any harm, that’s for sure. Yeah.
Mindy Peterson: [00:33:58] Well, that is just priceless to be able to experience getting those little snippets of time back with your loved one who you’ve watched slipping away. So yeah, I can only imagine how meaningful it would be to hear those testimonials and hear those stories from people who have experienced that. And obviously our focus has been on the patient in our conversation today and how they benefit. But certainly the use of Vera and using music in this way is indirectly really benefiting the family, the loved ones, the caregivers of those who are using. Vera. Well, I know we’re about out of time here, but one thing I did want to bring up in one of your articles I read it is said that music can heal wounds that medicine cannot touch. And I saw that and I thought, I have never heard that before and I love it. So that that quote was really intriguing and caught my attention. Another thing that I just wanted to bring up and ask is the meaning. Of the Dame Vera had a recent episode where the guest was talking about the way the music training helps us be better able to learn a second language. And ever since then I was so inspired and I’ve been using Duolingo faithfully to refresh my rusty Spanish that I had when I was back in high school. But I know in Spanish bura means you will see. And I thought, Oh, I wonder if there’s any connection between that and how you chose to name the app.
Stephen Hunt: [00:35:27] Yeah. So not really the Spanish part, the there’s two well there’s probably three parts to the name that are interesting. So first and foremost, we actually thought about developing this as a technology, of course, and we recognized that in the future. And this is something that will be released probably by the end of the year, but in the future you’ll want to be able to command it with your Alexa or with Google Home and go, Hey, Vera, play this relaxed playlist. And so we needed something for that. That was short and sharp and easy to say and and not confusing. And also that anyone in any culture could pronounce really easily. Because in Australia, where we actually did a lot of testing and learning, we’ve got an incredibly culturally diverse population and that’s actually where Vera is really showing some amazing promise because we can get music from Chinese or Greek backgrounds or Italian and so on. But anyway, that’s an aside. But so we wanted something that could be used in voice. We then wanted something that meant something to music. And we came across Vera from the artist Vera Lynn, who is a wartime famous wartime singer in the twenties. And we wanted someone from, I guess, the older era because obviously the people we were creating this for weren’t my generation. They are people who were born in the twenties, thirties and forties and fifties. And so Vera Lynn was probably on the much further older side of that, but it was an ode back to them. And then in Italian it means truth. And so they would still there saying nostalgia. But I hadn’t thought about the Spanish. Yeah, you’re right. It’s so there’s a lot to it. We’re really happy with the name.
Mindy Peterson: [00:37:16] Yes, there is really a lot packed into that little name isn’t there. Yeah.
Stephen Hunt: [00:37:22] And at the end of the day it’s, it’s something that we just wanted it to be simple, as simple as the tool itself. It’s probably the main thing we’ve strived for in the whole design and everything else. And when you play with it and it does have a free trial, so anyone can just have a go, but when you play with it, you’ll see that we’ve kept it very bare bones, but behind it there is so much going on and we actually have three different types of machine learning that are happening in concert. And then there’s the fourth, which as I mentioned, is how we process the audio when we receive it. So there’s actually four different eyes that are kind of working in different ways to get you the result that you see when you hear the music. And so it’s one of those things that’s quite interesting that looks simple on the outside, but a lot going on underneath.
Mindy Peterson: [00:38:10] Yeah, it sounds like it. Well, I will include in the show notes lots of ways for people to find out more about music, health, and specifically the app Birra. Just tell us real quick, though, the best place, the best website to go to find out more about Vera.
Stephen Hunt: [00:38:24] I go to Vera EMusic.com. Vera EMusic.com.
Mindy Peterson: [00:38:29] Great. Well, this has been so fun and so fascinating. Steve, I asked all my guests to close out our conversation with a musical ending a coda by sharing a song or story about a music that a moment that music enhanced your life. Is there a song or a story that you can share with us as we close today?
Stephen Hunt: [00:38:48] Yeah, absolutely. I chose a song that I’d actually written, and I sort of thought I’d share something with you that I definitely know I’ve got the rights to. Because one thing I know a lot about now is music licensing. And but one thing that is really, really interesting to understand that I’ve sort of learned over the last few years is that every single sound we hear triggers an emotional response. Now, whether that’s a sound from a car horn or whether it’s walking in nature and hearing some birds chirp, we are biologically written and primed as humans to interpret every sound and decide whether it is a threat or it’s safe. And there’s so much happening in our brains all the time. And so when I write this song, which is called Control, I was writing it about two of my friends who were respectfully breaking up with each other, but it was, you know, they were sort of pulling away. And it was it was hard. There was a lot of tears. And they were both at different times, just kind of losing control of themselves. And so I wrote this song, which lyrically is very kind of short and shot. But what I really tried to do with it was to use the music to trigger the emotions and. To kind of hear it build up over the course of the song towards the end, where hopefully it stirs something in you. But I was trying to, I guess, use not just words but also orchestration and the music to elicit an emotional response and hope you enjoy it.
Transcribed by Sonix.ai