Monday, October 21, 2019


My work continues to fascinate me with how people respond to music. There is a man I play for at a mission home. He is what I would call an abstract thinker. Meaning he thinks out of the box.  So when I play for him, I push past my own boundaries and think out of the box.  The other day I improvised on my guitar (instrumental) and played for 45 minutes non-stop. I played everything from blues, jazz, classical, Celtic, folk styles. I rarely improvise for such a long time meaning that I did not know what would come next. Some of the things that came out, I really enjoyed hearing. My friend Mr. C closed his eyes and listened. At one point, I thought he fell asleep. But when I finished playing, he opened his eyes and said, “Moods!”  I said, “Yes, I played a lot of moods, which ones are your favorites?” He said, “I like them all!”  He said he really enjoyed it. He is someone who has some mental health issues, so I feel that playing improvised music matches his way of thinking and processing his world.  I love it that he really gets what I am doing.

At the hospital, I played for a patient in ICU. He was very agitated and moving around and struggling.   For these kind of patients, I try to play very slowly and quietly to help them lock into the slow rhythms to hopefully encourage them to rest and sleep. Sure enough, within 5 minutes of playing for him, he fell asleep. However, he did not stay asleep.  After he woke up, he started in with his struggling and restless movement. I discovered he responded very well to the key of E. It seemed every time I played an E chord, he would stop his struggling and close his eyes and sleep. That is what I try to do in my work with ICU patients. To find a sound, chord, progression that feels familiar and safe and brings them comfort. He eventually fell asleep for a long time.All in a days work. I love my work! Thanks for stopping by.

The picture above is one I took of the sky last week. I think of moods like colors and this describes how I play at times - lots of hues and shades and colors.