Yesterday I had the opportunity to perform for the residents at the Hebrew Home Of Greater Washington on the Alzheimer’s Unit. I walked down the hall towards the common area where the TV sounded as if the volume were cranked to the max. The room was warm and some of the residents were asleep or sat motionless in their wheelchairs. I still felt this sense of excitement and eagerness to play because I believed the atmosphere would change once I started playing my violin.
One of the nursing aides turned off the tv and I began tuning my violin to signal I would start the performance. As soon as I moved my bow into the A string and made a sound, one of the residents perked her head up like a sunflower receiving light and smiled. I began with “Can't Help Falling In Love” and took time with phrasing because the carpet and dry air in the room absorbed most of the vibrations coming from my instrument. Quietly, a few of the residents sang along while others began to awake from their stillness. I performed “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” and everyone in the room sang along. By then, I felt as if I were being accompanied by a choir. I couldn’t help but smile because 20 minutes prior the room felt stuffy and lifeless.
By the end of the concert residents were eager to stay for more music although it was time for dinner. I thanked everyone for listening and performed Edelweiss from the Sound Of Music. If you’ve followed my previous post you will know how special that song has become in my life.
A younger woman in the audience applauded and laughed with one of the residents who happened to be her mother. They had talked about the songs and sang along together during the concert. Soon after the music ended, her mother began asking where she was and who her daughter was. The mother’s transition from clarity to confusion reminded me of my grandmother’s ongoing journey with Alzheimer's. It was sad to see but I know playing familiar songs gave both mother and daughter time to laugh and sing together.
I can't wait till next week to play for more residents and families in hopes of bring joy and smiles.