Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wanted to take a moment and wish all of my friends in blogsville a very Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for your support and for reading my stories.  I am so grateful to be doing work I love each day and for all of the wonderful people I meet and who brighten my way.

This is a favorite time of year for me because I love holiday music and parties. It is a time to sing Christmas carols and to bring holiday cheer. Pictured above is my favorite Christmas guitar book. It has instrumental arrangements of holiday songs where I will play this year in ICU units at the hospital. I love practicing them and that is what I am doing today until I go to a neighbors' house for our Thanksgiving gathering.

Also I like to find unusual arrangements of old favorite Christmas songs. Pictured above is something called, "Take Three" and it is a jazzy version of "We Three Kings". Those of you know are familiar with Dave Brubek's song, "Take Five" would like this arrangement. It is a combination of "Take Five" and "We Three Kings". I could explain further but it would only be music theory geek speak.

Here is something for you to try that is great fun. You take one Christmas melody and you sing the words to a different tune. For example: try singing "Silent Night" to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". Or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer " to the tune of "O Holy Night". The idea is to sing the happy songs to the tune of the mellow ones, etc. The result is a crazy mixed up Christmas Carol!

Back to Thanksgiving.... happy Turkey day!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Swan Song

Last week when I was singing with one of my favorite groups, I noticed a new employee watching us. After our first song, I went over to introduce myself and she told me she was the new activities director. I had known the other had left though I never knew why. In this line of work, I see a  lot of changeover in personnel. I guess the residents get used to that sort of thing.

After my music session was over, the new director caught me on my way out and asked if we could talk. She then said while she was listening to us, she thought, "why are we paying for this? we should get all volunteers!"  And that is what she intends to do. I can't afford to give away my services but I do charge very low rates for some.

So, yesterday was my last day at this nursing home I love. In the past 1.5 yrs being there, I have played for all of their holiday parties. Christmas, Labor Day, 4th of July, Valentine's Day. I was a friend to them. Some of those people have no family or friends in the area. Our singing group gave them a place to belong.

As it happened too, our last time singing together was maybe the best time ever. I gave it as much gusto as I could and tried to push aside thoughts of a goodbye to come. I had thought about whether to tell them or not but after considering the situation for a long time, I decided not to say anything. This is because it would only upset them and possibly create bad feelings toward the new director.

I did write this director though to ask if she would reconsider this decision and so I wait her response.   I've seen a lot of transition in this line of work and it is just part of the gig. I am hoping it's not over with them but if it is...I will just have to accept that.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sweet Encounters

In my work, I have the sweetest encounters with people. The other day I was singing with a group I haven't seen in awhile. In my work with therapeutic parks & recreation, I am only allowed so many groups to visit per month so I have to rotate some of them.

So Monday I was at Meadow Creek with a group of adults with developmental challenges. They are such a sweet group of people.  As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by Pamela who said, "You are pretty! I like you."

We sing all the old favorite songs learned in camp and school. There is one young lady who screams with excitement at the beginning of many of the songs. Especially if I introduce them first. I will say, "This one is called, "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain!" ("ahhhhhhhh!!" come her screams :)

I'm not sure how it happened but we ended up singing Christmas carols even though it's a little early for that. This is a group though that would sing Jingle Bells in July! (and we have done it!)

Later, Thomas presented me with a beaded necklace he made for me as we sang. I'm so lucky.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hi from Abilene!

Hello I am Abilene, Jasper's mama. As you can see, I find my mom's guitar case to be a very nice cat bed. She won't let me be in it very long though. By the way, she does not no I am writing 2 you, so don't tell her! I am more shy than Jasper but this online stuff looks fun, so I thought I would see what it is about. Hello world!! :) I am stuck inside this computer Ha ha!! (not really)

Ok so my mom is on a new music kick and she is learning something called "jazz". Have you heard of it? I think it seems kind of kookie if you ask me and get this. The latest song she recorded for homework is called, "Memories of Tomorrow." Does that make sense to you?  How can you have a memory of something that did not happen yet? Jasper would call that a "Vuja De."  If you click on the link of the song, you can hear it. If you listen carefully, you can hear me in the background snoring!! I did try to snore in time with the music but that jazz stuff is not easy.

There is hope though cause guess what? The new song my mom is learning is called, "Olhos De Gata" which means "eyes of a cat" in Portuguese. I have to admit I like that one. Even though I'd rather that my mom stop playing her guitar and pet me!! Oh oh...her she comes, I better look like I am sleeping! Bye!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Healing music of Snatam Kaur

That's me just after our hour long chanting of Guru Ram Das--you can see I look like I am still moving. The wind is in my hair and sun in my eyes and song in my heart!

 This past weekend I went to Yogaville to participate in a weekend workshop, "The Healing Miracle of Yogic Chanting". Those of you who practice yoga most likely are familiar with Snatam Kaur's music and amazing voice.  We learned some Kundalini yoga sets in addition to traditional sanskirt mantras and chants.

I'd say perhaps my favorite class was where we chanted Guru Ram Das for 62 minutes.  Yogis know all about the science of music and its ability to raise energy and consciousness. I felt such peace and radiance while in her class. I also felt my voice open up more.

Snatam says that practicing yoga helps you to become more who you really are. She said, "it's kind of a relief to just be who you are. And it's a relief to others too."   After chanting Guru Ram Das for an hour, I felt what she was talking about. The thoughts that come up and things that want to distract me are always there. We always have a choice to go deeper into who we are. Music is a great way to do this!

Many years ago back in the early 90s I had a friend who was a Sikh and introduced me to this healing music. I learned the chant Guru Ram Das during a dark time in my life when I was confused and in search of direction. I believe that listening to that chant during that time helped me find my way to the path I am now on.

Have you had experiences like this with healing music? How has it helped you to become more who you really are?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Traveling Museum

I have a new job working with the Alzheimer's Association here in Cville. I am sent to different Memory Care facilities to play for residents.   For this agency, we are trained to be more hands on interactive and work to get the residents engaged with the music activity.  They have lots of art prints on hand to bring to show people and so I did what I call a "traveling museum" visit. Since they cannot get out to a museum, I bring it to them!

I brought with me some prints of famous paintings like the Norman Rockwell painting pictured above. I showed them the painting and then we shared stories of baseball games we attended of family members, food we like to eat at baseball games (hot dogs ;), songs sung at games (National Anthem). Then of course we sang, "Take me out to the Ballgame".

After a few art and music combinations, I handed out percussion instruments for them to play along with me on some uptempo songs like, "When the Saints Go Marching In," "This Little Light of Mine", and we went for over an hour.

This time I drove to a place in Greene county. I am really enjoying traveling around more and getting to spend some time seeing more of the countryside in various surrounding counties.
I love the variety and diversity of the work I am doing. Great times!

Thanks for visiting!