Not many people know exactly what I do for work. To be honest, there are times when I am not exactly sure what I do when I am at work. My schedule and functions change fairly regularly – mostly monthly. I work with the elderly in a long-term care setting but I am not a nurse. I work within the recreation department but I like to view myself as a “non-licenses music therapist.” As a result of all of my music training, I have the opportunity to share music with this population. It is a hard but so very rewarding group of tasks on a daily basis.
Today, as they were getting ready for dinner, a lady wheeled herself up to me. She said, “When are you going to play the piano for me again? Can you do it right now? Do you have something you can play for me?” At the moment, I was getting ready to attend a staff meeting but we made plans for me to play for her this weekend. I am going to play some Bach, Beethoven, and a piece composed just a couple of decades back. Her excitement is kind of funny, at least I think it is. Nearly everyone at this facility knows that I play the piano (and some know I play other instruments as well) but she is really one of the only ones that seeks me out to play for her. She is an artist and so I keep trying to tell her that I will play for her if she will paint me a picture. I think she has figured out that I will play for her anyway.
As a part of my weekly schedule, I have a music group. Those involved in this group are usually all long-term patients. They have varying illnesses, cognitive levels, and use of their limbs. About a month ago, I was leading my music group and they decided that it would be fun to work on some Christmas songs and then record them. They want to be able to give CDs to their family members for the holidays. Now, I thought (and still think) that this was a terrific idea. Little did I know at the time how much work this was going to be for me. As a group, we picked five songs to work on: 3 traditional carols and 2 of the more “modern” Christmas tunes. One of these I had never heard and we are learning the words tomorrow. I have had the opportunity to arrange each of these pieces for the group. They will be singing and playing various percussive instruments. I will be on the keyboard and I have arranged for some of my musician friends to assist us. The closer we get to the recording date, the more excited everyone seems to get about this project.
So, for today, I am grateful that I have this opportunity. I get to see the smiles on each of the faces of this population. I get to see the impact that music truly has on each individual and their varying circumstances. If anyone doubts the power of music to heal and to bridge gaps, come visit with me. I have seen Alzheimer’s patients become more coherent and balanced. I have seen behaviors decrease. I have seen people come together because of the music. I am a believer.
I am grateful for being given this talent that I can share with the world. My mom is always telling me “don’t hide your light under a bushel.” I could be content, mostly, with living in the shadows but that is now what I have been meant to do with my life. I have a gift and the accompanying training to bless others and to bring a smile and commonality to the lives of those around me. I will not squander my gift. I will showcase it and allow it to grow even further.
What talent are you sharing with the world? I want to hear from you!
Peace and love,
The Mad Pianist