It has been an amazing opportunity to do regular music programs for such an extended period of time. I’ve really been able to develop some great relationships with residents. There’s quite a group of music enthusiasts now. Some of the staff tell me certain residents are so excited for my programs that they show up an hour in advance! I was shocked the other day by a resident who rarely ever speaks.
I was playing a Johnny Cash tune that is a favourite of many of the residents and when I finished, she opened her mouth and said in a loud, clear voice “we love you”! Another resident offers me a little drawing each time I play on his floor as a sign of gratitude (almost always the same picture). The other day there was a gentleman who really got into it! he was sitting right beside me and whenever I began to play he would start slapping his knees or clapping his hands in rhythm.
At the end of each song he held out his hand, looked my in the eyes and gripped my hand tightly and would slowly say “we really made hay there”. Speech was obviously very difficult for this individual and the sentiment conveyed in those few words and the squeeze of the hand were so beautiful. I have another client who is very passive, I have never heard her speak, but each time I come around she smiles at me if she’s awake. I also have a special song that I know she likes that I play every time I see her.
The part that I love the best is the smiling that takes place during these programs. People who are spending time in TCU or living in long term care don’t always smile and laugh easily, but when a music program is going well everyone present can get pulled along into positivity, including the very hardworking staff.
I hope that music in healthcare continues to gain more recognition. It is such a powerful force for healing! I’ve seen the change it can bring in people who are SO depressed, it can lift their burdens and take them away to a happy place, it can remind them that life is still worth living, it can provide something to look forward to and enjoy each week.
I believe that my programs are important for the well-being of many of the residents and I worry about them when I take time off or can’t come in for some reason. Hopefully I will be able to continue in some capacity throughout the winter! I dream of a day when every hospital and long-term care facility simply has a musician on staff and the constant quest for funding can be laid to rest. These programs ARE essential, they are not simply entertainment!