Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Growing older is a privilege

Today I visited an assisted living center where I have gotten to become friends with some of the residents. After we sang, "The Hammer Song", Melanie told me about when she saw Peter, Paul and Mary in concert years ago. This led to talking about Pete Seeger and I mentioned he was still alive and still making music in his 90s. Then Helen said she is 93 and we all agreed she didn't look it.  All of this led to talking about aging and I said I thought it was a shame that so many people talk so negatively about getting older. Then Melanie said, "it's a privilege".  And when I asked her why, she said, "because we have wisdom." And then I remembered the quote above and told it to her and she said, "yeah that too."  I feel lucky to have elder friends who inspire me. I don't dread my elder years because like the saying goes, it is a privilege denied to many.

A festive jukebox

One of the things I like about playing music at different senior homes is that I love the decorations I see when holidays approach. I never decorate my house for holidays so it is a real treat to go and see each place done up differently.  I used to love jukeboxes and have many fond memories spending many quarters to play favorite songs. I think we should bring jukeboxes back, don't you? They are neat looking such fun to look over all the song titles.

Today was the day after Hurricane Sandy. I was grateful that this area came through it without power outages and damage.   I was looking so forward to today when I  would go sing at two nursing homes.  It is a good feeling to have a job I love to go to so much. I can remember many other jobs wishing for a snow day! Here I was wishing for a work day! Well.. work is play for me, so that makes a difference too.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A unique audience member

I know most people cringe at the sight of a bird in a cage but this is one bird that has a good home. This is George and he is blind. He lives at Mountainside senior living in Crozet. He loves music! He sat very still and quiet as I sang with the residents all the songs I could think of. He sure is handsome, don't you think so?

It was a good time singing too. I loved the smiles we had and the sharing of memories connected with the songs.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Keeper of Time

Today I led some rhythms at a drum circle at JABA. I showed the group a heartbeat rhythm and they accompanied me while I improvised on my Native American style flute. Then I showed them an African rhythm we played for awhile. We also played rhythms led by Douglas (pictured above) and it was just a nice way to spend time with everyone. 

Earlier this morning I did an object writing exercise I learned from a songwriting book. All you do is pick a random object and write for 10 minutes on it.  Don't think about it or try to plan or control what comes out... just keep the pen moving. I picked my metronome which was interesting to write about. I had forgotten that I would also drum later this morning. Here's part of what came out:

keeper of time, keep me in place
tick to the universe, tock to the space
numerical wheel, red light blinks
rhythm, old as an Egyptian sphinx
you tick so loudly so i can hear
you keep soundly so there is no fear.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A wedding song

I had the honor of playing my Native American style flute in the ceremony of my dear friend Kate's wedding. It was a joyous occasion and a beautiful day.  We gathered outside in the beauty of a Indian Summer, my favorite time of year. I played a melody (or should I say, it played me) for the bridal party and bride to enter the wedding circle. I love playing music for such occasions more than any other kind of gig! Thank you dear Kate for having me be a part of your beautiful day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Keep on the Silly Side...

When I sing at Meadowcreek, that is when I can really let out my silly side. Carol (pictured above) is my partner in crime where we like to make up parodies on the fly to old songs. Today's favorite was "Hot Dog" (to the tune of Elvis's "Hound Dog")

"You ain't nothin' but a hot dog without a french fry
you said you were a cheese dog, that was just a lie"

That led to "Love me Slender" and I made up a song about being on a diet.  It keeps me on my toes to improvise with them and it is such fun.

Above Carol posed for this picture acting out a sad song.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Don't leave me out!"

Today I sang with the folks at Mary Williams center and we had a good time as always.  I was inspired to take some pictures of a group at a table who were being particularly animated. When I finished, I heard a voice behind me ask, "did you get me in there?"  I turned around and saw Julia, looking somewhat offended  (and rightly so) and she said, "don't leave me out!"  So, above she is pictured. Julia, I did not mean to leave you out!  and thank you very much for this lesson. I then asked, "does anyone else want their picture taken?" and four more people raised their hands. It is about being seen and appreciated.  I hope I never make a mistake like I did today.

I got another lesson too when I was hit (gently) on the leg by someone's cane because I had taken her seat at the table while she was in the other room. See? singing with seniors is not for the faint of heart!   (and thank you, Pearl for that reminder --I was rude to take your chair!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

From old to young

Today was really an interesting and fun time that started with my doing a sing along with a group of seniors. We sing all the old songs we learned in school growing up and whatever else comes to mind. So, while I was in the middle of playing, "I'll Fly Away"  suddenly one of the residents came into the room with an old, beat up guitar. He approached me slowly while wearing a mischievous grin on his face. He seemed up to something.

 I kept playing the song and he sat down across from me and smiled again held his guitar for a while longer. Just when I was wondering if he just came out to show it to me or help him change his strings or something--he jumped right into the song! And boy, he could pick too! He played fast country licks and bass lines and after we ended the song he laughed a hardy laugh.  I laughed too and started playing, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and he nailed it again! We went on that way for a few more songs and I really wanted to take his picture but I felt to shy about it. Instead I found a picture of a guitar that looked like his but without his smiling face, it is not much to look at. Still, what a fun surprise!

As if that was not enough for one day...I taught my songwriting class tonight and we had just two students in the class (a teenaged boy and a girl of 10).  I led them through a songwriting prompt exercise and started working on a Thanksgiving song collaboration with them but somehow things weren't flowing. Just as I ran out of ideas of what else to show them,  the girl in the class said, "why don't we have a jam session!" and so we did. And boy did we!

Wow! She played the piano, while the other student and I played guitar. I am going to upload this on my SoundCloud page for all to hear and experience. It was just delightful to play like a child again with them. To experience the sense of wonder and the beauty that came. What a gift.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Music for horses, anyone?

Look who came to great me as I arrived to the Love for Animals sanctuary & rescue fall festival and benefit.  How I love horses!  I was first to play today at the benefit which meant that festival participants were still arriving. So that meant that the horses next to me were my most attentive audience. What would you sing to a horse?

Today I tried out lots of stuff from old Hank Williams to Blue Moon to Wade in the Water and my own songs.  I played some of my own solo guitar pieces and that is when I felt like I was really in my element. A woman approached me and asked if I had been to see the Dalai Lama on Thursday. I said I was there and she said listening to my guitar made her feel that feeling again of being there.  That felt good. That and the horse who came to greet me.

Harrisonburg International Festival

I  was honored to be a part of the Harrisonburg International Festival this year on Sept. 29th. As you may guess from the outfit I am wearing, I was there teaching traditional American songs. It sure puts a new spin on the old songs I grew up singing in school to sing them with people from other countries.  Yet it all does fit since I grew up in Chicago where all of my neighbors and classmates were from all over the world.  I sure love singing these old songs. 

It's hard to tell what song I was singing in the picture --it looks to be a serious one... or me reflecting in between choruses. In any case, just wanted to tell you about another fun experience in the journey of music adventures.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Here is my presentation video from my DC experience

Remember I told you about my presentation I gave to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (see post called "A Big Deal")  today I got the video of it. Here it is: