Days like today reminded me why it was important I leave my job and dedicate time to music. I went to the hospital to play for patients and hoped I would be able to find patients that would allow me to perform a few songs. The staff on the oncology units have come to know me well and anticipate Violin music whenever they see my Captain America shield backpack and Batman symbol on my violin case. One of the nurses at the station exclaimed “Hooray! Entertainment.” I chuckled to myself and readied my violin to greet patients and families. I felt good today and prepared to play different songs for patients.
I knocked on a patient's door and saw a young woman lying in bed who appeared shocked to see someone enter with a violin. She smiled and slowly sat upright while I told her I was there to play music. She nodded and said that she was the only one in the room but I replied by saying that I’m here to play for you. She relaxed her body and eased her head into the pillow while waiting for me to begin. I started with A Thousand Years by Christina Perri while taking my time with the melody and allowing the notes to ring throughout the room and hallway. I watched as tears welled in her eyes so I slowed the tempo and widened my vibrato. After a few songs, I played Somewhere Over the Rainbow and saw her cover her face with the bed sheet. I kept repeating the melody and watched as she audibly cried in her bed. I continued through more songs and after performing Canon in D I used the D as a transition note to return to Somewhere Over the Rainbow in a brighter key. I normally perform the song in the Key of C major for a mellow color but I felt I needed to reprise the song with a stronger color. This time she smiled and after I had finished she continued smiling.
The woman asked how I picked those songs and I told her that my grandmother has Alzheimer’s so I try to pick songs she recognizes and can sing along to as I play. The woman then said that 5 years ago she had arranged for A Thousand Years and Somewhere Over the Rainbow to be played at her husband’s funeral. She took a deep breath and said that next week would have been his birthday and she’s sad because no one talks about him anymore. Then she shared the music reminded her of the time they spent together and that she wants to take her children to more concerts.
I’m thankful I could be there and look forward to sharing music again at the hospital this week. I’ve performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow countless times but today made it special and I hope I can continue to make a positive impact on the patients and staff.