Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Therapeutic Musician releases songbook to lift spirits

Hello everyone!  The other day the Daily Progress did a story about the release of my songbook Seven Songs of Solace.  It is a fundraiser to benefit Doctors without Borders and Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss (AAMHL) as well as me (having lost most of my income due to the pandemic crises). 

You can purchase a copy of my songbook at this link: 

Here is a link to the Daily Progress Article

If you cannot read this article because of subscription preferences, you can read the pdf of it here on google drive. 

You may hear the selections in the songbook at this link on SoundCloud.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Music gives voice where we have no words

Music has been the most constant thing in my life. We are living in very uncertain times and so many changes go on each day. Music has always been my best friend I turn to when I am at a loss for words.

Four years ago in late May, my dear mother passed away. It was probably the saddest time of my life. During this time of grieving, I began composing music on my guitar to expressed my feelings. The video below is the first of several pieces that came to me. I call it "Acceptance (for mom)" because I was aware that I went through many stages of grief.  I remember some years ago there was a theory of these 5 phases of grief: "Denial, Anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance." I got the idea to compose songs in each of these phases.   Below are Acceptance and Denial - in that order :)

When I thought of what denial would sound like, how I experience that is in a dance. Like a jig. At times when I am denying something, I am not feeling sadness or grief. In fact, I could feel something akin to happiness, even though it is denial. Are you following me? :)

So below you will hear two of the phases of grief of my mom's death. I found that composing music was what really helped me to come to accept her death and move forward.

"Acceptance (for mom)" is also available in sheet music for standard/tab notation in my new booklet (pdf) Seven Songs of Solace. It can be purchased by a donation (any amount) and partial proceeds will go to Doctors without Borders:

Donate: paypal.me/sevensongssolace

Here is the video of the songs and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Seven Songs of Solace

Dear Friends,

It has been said that in times past during pandemics, society relied on artists, poets and visionaries to give voice to the major transformation place.  Massive change happening at an accelerated rate left people without language to make sense of it all.  

After the 9/11 attacks, I read an article that asked people to tell what helped them heal form their loss, confusion and despair. All of them mentioned a song that gave voice to words they didn’t have. Others told about concerts that connected them with others and validated their experience.  It made me realize that music was more important than ever. It was this time that inspired me to become a Certified Music Practitioner which led to working at University of Virginia Hospital and several nursing homes playing therapeutic music for patients. 

In mid-March, my work as a therapeutic musician came to a halt when the Coronavirus stopped the world.  My greatest joy has been to bring comfort, hope, healing, and connection to others with music.  Suddenly, I was left without the option of being able to go into any of the places where I had become a part of so many people’s lives. 
Then an idea came to me for a way I could continue to put music out into the world.  “Seven Songs of Solace” was conceived for this purpose. I have really enjoyed working on this project. It is my hope that these songs provide you with hours of enjoyment hope and comfort. 

Thank you for supporting this musical project. Each month, I will donate 10% of the proceeds from the to a different organization working to help our front line workers in health care during this pandemic. You will find links to videos and sound files to hear the selections on my webpage listed below. 

You may purchase Seven Songs of Solace by a donation at the link below. 
(Pay as you may. Any amount appreciated!) 

You may hear the songs in the book at this link:

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A last visit for now

I've been working at a nursing home for 3 years in activities. Each Saturday, I go room to room singing with residents who are bed ridden or do not come out of their rooms. For the last 3 weeks, all of the residents have been instructed to stay in their rooms due to covoid 19 precautions.

Today, I made my last round of singing room to room until the pandemic subsides. It was a hard decision to step away but better to do so now and be safe

Today's musical visits were very touching to me.  I sat with Ms. C. for a long time and we sang many songs from her childhood camp and church songbook.  C. is someone who attends all activities and she's very social.  Being quarantined to her room has been hard on her. Today though, we escaped the feelings of sadness and isolation through sharing of songs.  We sang some of our favorites, 'We Shall Not Be Moved," "Keep on the Sunny Side," "Do Lord," "I'll Fly Away." She sang some of the songs I don't know for me, "Red, Red Robin, ""When the Roll is Called up Yonder." I always feel uplifted from being around her.  She endures her suffering (she is wheelchair bound and usually in a lot of pain) without complaint and always finds a way to have a positive outlook.

I also loved singing with Mr. M.   I know he loves old Motown and we sang, "My Girl" first. Lots of smiles and laughter with that song.  When I started to sing, "Stand By Me,"  Mr. M. sang along while wiping his tears away with a handkerchief. We then sang a few songs by Bill Withers, who just passed away. "Lean on Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine" were particularly poignant for the times.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when I am there because there are so many of them and only one of me. Yet when we sing, the sadness melts away and they help me just as much as I hope to be helping them.

We're gonna get through this. We got this.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Music in the time of Covoid-19

Hello everyone! As you may imagine, my work providing live therapeutic music has come to a halt indefinitely. However, I am fortunate that I am on staff at a local nursing home (limited hours) and so I have been able to continue providing the comforts of music to the residents there going room to room.

Yesterday, we thought out of the box and I led a sing along over the intercom.   We sang some of our favorite gospel songs, "This Little Light of Mine," "I'll Fly Away," "Do Lord," "Down By the Riverside," "Amazing Grace." Our last song, "Stand by Me," we video taped the residents singing outside their rooms in the hallway and we shared it on Facebook to bring cheer to our community and all around the world.

I've worked here now for 3 years and these people are so inspirational to me.  What we are now having to go through (self isolation) is something they live with every day. Lockdown is nothing new to them every flu season. Many of them do not have family or friends nearby to visit them. Yet they make do and they find little joys in simple things.

I plan to keep our intercom music flowing as well as room to room visits. I am very thankful for the opportunity to continue to share music and bring hope and comfort to others. This work is what also brings me hope and comfort.

May you all find hope and comfort in this time of uncertainty.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Soundscapes come alive

Those of you who know me, know that I have a  Cochear implant (CI) and that has given me some unique experiences.  Awhile ago, Cochlear Americas (manufacturer of my CI) had a contest among CI recipients called, "Inspire Us."  They invited us to submit a work of visual art that would represent our hearing journey.

I immediately thought of this painting/collage pictured above that I did. Though I was not thinking of this theme when I did this work, it clearly does depict an image showing all of my favorite sounds.

I once lived in a teepee in rural California and went to sleep hearing the sounds of an owl hooting. I loved that sound more than anything!

Also, I love the sounds of the oceans' waves, the wind blowing in the trees, (the kites represent the wind), sounds of animal growls and expressions of joy. The stars represent outer space and technology.  The colorful, squiggly banners represent music and rhythm.

It turns out that this piece was selected to be part of a special art show at the Cochlear Americas headquarters in CO. I love the idea that others will see this work and maybe get a smile out of it.

One thing CI recipients know is that we do not take the simplest sound for granted.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

39 Years of Guitar books!

I have now been playing the guitar for 45 years. It all started out innocently enough when my family moved to a new neighborhood and I met a girl my age who played the guitar. I was immediately enchanted with it and I loved that we could sit outside on her porch and sing and play. At the time, I played drums in my high school band and I was aware that the whole neighborhood could hear me practicing on my drum set. The guitar appealed to me because I could go in my room and shut the door and create a whole world of music in privacy. I loved that it was a rhythmic instrument that playcd melody too. In short, I was hooked.

Over the years, I went through many phases.  The longest and most influential phase was when I studied the classical guitar. I studied for 7 years in Chicago with a private teacher. In the photo above on top is the first classical guitar book I ever had in 1981. From there I grew to love Bach and Andrew York and Carlvaro and Bogdonovich and all sorts of guitar composers. I traveled to Germany one summer to a Classical Guitar Festival and enjoyed going to the Guitar Foundation of America in Charleston, SC one year.

All of this came up because I am getting ready to move in the fall and so it is time to look at some of the things I have been carrying with me on my shelves all these years.  I have never wanted to throw these books pictured above away, but it is true, I no longer use them.

However, I found a music school in SC that will use them in their music library! I am very happy that my sentimental memories will be enjoyed by more people.

Thanks for the memories!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Farewell to a decade and hello to 2020!

I spent the last week of 2019's holiday season playing music for those needing an extra boost. On Christmas Day, I went to the local homeless shelter and played my guitar. It was my first time there and I was grateful to offer some musical respite from being outside. The shelter is in the basement of a church and I sat in one of the rooms playing some holiday and original music on my guitar.  I know that music is such a bridge that allows me access into the lives of people I would ordinarily never encounter. The man who worked at the desk told me I'd be welcome to come back anytime he is there. I plan to do that!

I also played for a man at the hospital in ICU as he was given his last rites. His mother stood by as the nurse tended him and the chaplain read the rites. I played, "Amazing Grace," on my guitar.  It was a very moving ceremony and I was touched to see the nurse in tears as well. I felt privileged to be in  that I could contribute to the last moment's of this man and his family.

As always, I am grateful to do the work I am able to do and I wish everyone a healthy, prosperous and happy New Year!