Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa came to town

Today was the annual Christmas party I sing at with a group of young adults with intellectual disabilities. They are the most responsive group I sing with. Today everyone was dressed up in their Christmas colors, glittered jewelry, Santa hats. We sang all the usual favorites, "Rudolph", "Joy to the World", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and I kept on until the bells rang in the other room. This was the signal to me to say that Santa was here. It was my first time seeing an African American Santa which I liked very much. Here he is now...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Classical Gas

Today at the hospital I was playing for a man in ICU. I usually play quiet, contemplative and relaxing music for ICU/critical patients but this one was sitting up in a chair.  Often times this means for medical reasons they need to be more stimulated and so I played for him some uptempo music. My first choice was one of my favorite pieces "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams. I find this song resonates with many people. It has such a universal appeal.  As I started to play the piece,  the man said, "I love this song!" and he closed his eyes and seemed to take in each note like a source of nourishment and food.

The story behind the song, if you to is that the original title was to be "Classical Gasoline" --the idea being that the song would be a sort of musical fuel that would energize you upon listening. The title was shortened to fit onto a label and it gave it a new meaning.
But today it did serve to be a musical fuel for the heart and soul. The man said with tears in his eyes as I was leaving, "you have really touched me"

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I play the guitar for the monthly service on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Charlottesville Mennonite Church. (come join us at 8pm!) Last nights' service was one of the best ever. Did me a lot of good!

How to describe Taize? It is so beautiful and peaceful.  There is a lot of silence as well as a lot of lovely music. We sit in candlelight. Some of the best singing goes on here.  We have also guitar (me), piano, flute, recorder as accompaniment instruments.

To me it is such a healing balm to go and bask in the quietude in community. Next month (Jan) will make my one year anniversary since I've been going. I look forward to each month.

Here's a photo of the song book we use.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Folklife Apprenticeship Program 2010-11

This past year I was an apprentice in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship program studying the Galax Dulcimer with master player/teacher Phyllis Gaskins. Here is an article Phyllis wrote for the Dulcimer sessions online publication for Mel Bay. We played some tunes at the showcase this past Sept. You can view a slideshow of the recap for that day here.

Phyllis and I are on YouTube at this link playing Shady Grove & Cluck Ol' Hen, enjoy!
I was proud and honored to graduate this September 2011 from such a wonderful program.

Here's a picture of me and Phyllis at the Folklife Apprenticeship showcase in Sept. '10

Friday, December 2, 2011

I hand over my guitar...

Today at the hospital I was playing in the CCU in the hallway outside of several rooms. I was playing for about 30 mins, when  a man suddenly came out of the room closest to me. In tears he approached me and asked in between sobs, "can I borrow your guitar? I want to play her a hymn." At first I had a hard time understanding him as he was crying and not speaking clearly. He held out his hand and with his other he showed me his wallet. I understood then he asked to borrow my guitar. I normally never let anyone borrow my guitar but in this instance, I handed it over to him. I could hear the chords playing something in the room but I deliberately didn't listen too closely to give them privacy. About 10 minutes later,  he came out with my guitar and handed it back to me while still crying. I saw then one of the Chaplains was also in the room.   I was glad I could be of service, even though it was not a request I get often.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

He's Got the Itty Bitty Baby in his hands....

Today I played for another group (also with intellectual disabilities) One of the women there loves the song, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and we sing everyones' name in the room. She has a little doll that is her "baby" and she laughs and kisses it after each verse. It always makes me smile just thinking of it later.  Another woman there likes to make up our own songs. One time we were thinking about how the only holiday that doesn't have a song about it is Labor Day. So we made up our own song about it that pretty much said, "Labor Day" over and over an interspersed were food items for a barbecue.

Now Christmas is upon us, so we are busy with holiday songs. Here's a picture of one of their painted windows with Santa saying hello next to it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Playing with Fluffy, I'm gonna let it shine..."

Today I sang with one of my favorite groups. They are young adults with intellectual disabilities. We had such fun singing together. I'd say the highlight was a marathon version of, "This Little Light of Mine" that we must have sang for about 15 minutes.  Each of us took turns naming places and things to shine.  Then we got around to naming our pets. Great names like, "Crash", "Spirit", "Fluffy" "Abilene", "Blue" (I don't mind :) , "Little Dog" . Where would we be without our pets?
I can't post photos of the people I sing with but here's a picture of the lovely wreath on the front door of the house.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lullabies for the babies

Today I played in the newborn ICU. Lullabies and simple melodies to help them sleep.  Such a privilege to play for these small humans.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hello out there

Well hello out there. I often have amazing and interesting experiences in my music work with people. So I thought I'd document some of them for others to enjoy.  Tonight I am a bit sleepy, so I am just saying hello.

Oh I would like to tell you about my CD "Choose the Sky". It took me 5 years to complete it! Lots of reasons for it but one of them is that I am profoundly deaf and I had to put my CD project on hold in Jan. of 2009 to undergo cochlear implant surgery. That was followed by months of aural rehab to regain my musical perception and speech recognition. More on all of that another time though...

In the meantime I  am really excited and proud of my CD. Here is the link to where you can listen to song  clips on CD

I really like how the artwork turned out (by Browning Porter) and so I am going to show you the cover art work here:

Tomorrow is Monday, my day to work at the hospital. I'll let you know if anything interesting happens...