Monday, November 16, 2015

A Gifted Listener

Many times we hear about gifted musicians who can play music in a magical way. I know a woman who is a gifted listener of music, who listens in a magical way. She lives in a dementia unit at a nursing home where I play regularly. I come after dinner and play what is called my "Sundown Serenade," instrumental music on my guitar to help calm the residents.  This woman who I will call Mary listens to every song I play with rapt attention. Sometimes she closes her eyes and nods her head along with the rhythm, as if she were playing along with me in her head. After each song she brightens and applauds and says something like, 'oooh I could listen all night!"

Last night I  noticed she wore an Irish clannad ring and she looked Irish, so I played, "My Wild Irish Rose" and sure enough, she not only recognized the song, she sang the song aloud with me. After I was finished playing it,  I said, "You know that song!" and we sang it together:

"My wild Irish rose
the sweetest flower that grows
you may search everywhere but none can compare
with my wild Irish rose."

We sang it together quite a few times and then laughed. I found other songs she knew too like, "Simple Gifts," "Edelweiss," "Shenadoah." I had such a good time singing and playing with her that the hour flew by.

When it was time to go, she walked me to the elevator, pointed to it and said, "Can I open that for you?" (I had already pressed the button to call it, but she didn't notice) I told her, "You can say 'open sesame." She leaned closer and said to the door, "Open Sesame!" and in that instant the elevator door opened. She was so surprised and delighted with herself. I said, "You did it--thank you!" and she laughed and laughed. 
I laughed many times on the drive home about this!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Where the music finds you

This week was so inspirational. New connections and collaborations were made as music found me in many places.  In addition to my usual weekly music gigs, I took time out to meet with my friend Mike to play some guitar duets.  One would think these kinds of meetings would go on all the time in a town with so many musicians. But it can be really hard to find people whose styles, skills, personalities compliment one another. So often when people meet me and find out I am a musician, they tell me, "Oh, you should meet ____! He/She is a musician too!" That would be like saying to a Catholic person, "Oh, you should meet___, they are Catholic too!"  The fact that two people play music does not always mean you will 'hit it off'. Similarly with any commonality in life.

Fortunately though, I did find myself among many musical people and events this week! On Saturday, I attended a volunteer brunch at one of the nursing homes I sing at weekly. How much fun it was to gather with other music lovers and sing around the piano! We sang Gospel songs like, "Down by the Riverside," "Do Lord," "I'll Fly Away."

Later that day, I went do an Oxford Tudor Anthem sing along led by Early Music Ensemble, MIRA (pictured above is leader Raven Hunter). It was quite a lot of fun and challenging. They had extra hymn books on hand (I had my own) and we all sat in our vocal sections. I was sitting next to the bass and tenor parts and switched between them. Of course the bass part was a bit low for me but I often did the octave above. Sometimes I just closed my eyes and listened to the blending of voices, it was heavenly!

Finally, the week ended with a monthly community sing along I lead at The Front Porch   roots music school in Charlottesville.  It is always a joyous occasion for me to sing with people. We sang everything from, "My Girl," "Stand By Me," "Do Re Mi," "Moonshadow," and everything in between. After that, we shared a potluck supper. How's that for a musical week? Where did music find you recently?