Carol Rosenstein Music Mends Minds
Carol Rosenstein, founder of Music Mends Minds, and her late husband and inspiration behind the organization, Irwin. (Credit: Courtesy of Music Mends Minds)

Carol Rosenstein was inspired to start her nonprofit, Music Mends Minds, after her husband, Irwin, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006 (which later digressed into dementia). In 2014, Rosenstein enrolled Irwin in UCLA’s Alzheimer and Dementia Patient Care program, where he began to play the piano for both students and patients. Within weeks, Carol saw dramatic results: Her husband became more aware, responsive, confident, energetic and talkative. As she puts it, “Hope and life came back into our home after Irwin’s passion for music was reignited.” That same summer, Rosenstein launched Music Mends Minds, which offers musical support groups for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and other neurological disorders. Today, the Los Angeles founder has formed chapters across the country, while hosting weekly music therapy groups around the city, and a monthly Zoom offering for anyone in the world who might benefit. As Rosenstein notes: “The world needs music.”

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

We were a CNN Heroes finalist and we’ve partnered with Rotary International Clubs. Both opportunities have given us a bigger platform, to better meet our community of seniors who need music. Through our Rotary partnership in particular, we have access to over 1.2 million volunteers in over 200 countries. 

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Sales and marketing. To address this, we put out educational materials from the scientific community about how music can offset the suffering people with dementia and Alzheimers experience – and how it can, instead, bring them joy. 

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that affected your business decisions? 

Caregiver burnout. Throughout 15 years of caring for my husband, music was an important form of support for me, personally. It isn’t just medicine for those who are sick, but for those who are caring for the sick, too. “Happy chemicals” are released in our brains when we make or listen to music.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

Be ready and open to all opportunities. Projects can catch fire and go viral – be prepared to rise to every occasion, and to keep the wheels turning.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

I practice gratitude for how blessed I am to be at the helm of a project that is helping souls find joy and connect with their physicality. 

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?

“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. It reminds me that we’re not alone, that we’re able to touch others through music.

Who is your most important role model?

My meditation teacher, who runs a Buddhist school in Los Angeles. She taught me the Buddhist philosophy of being in the moment, staying conscious and being open to all opportunities.

Instagram: @musicmendsminds
Facebook: @musicmendsminds
YouTube: @MusicMendsMinds 

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