"Someone take me back to my room. I don't want to be here anymore. Someone take me back to my room.I don't want to be here anymore. Someone..." A resident in the memory care unit repeated this over and over from her wheelchair as I set up my equipment to play music for everyone. I thought perhaps she'd feel settled after I start playing the violin. I was wrong.
Recently, the residents communicated with the activity coordinator that they wanted to hear different music besides the standard sing-alongs and folk tunes that I've played each week I visit the facility. I thought to introduce new pieces so I began with Pachelbel's Canon in D. Some of the residents smiled from their wheelchairs but the one resident continued to repeat that she wanted to go to her room. By the end of the song, she had turned her wheelchair away from everyone else and positioned the chair in the direction of the elevator.
I didn't set out to get the resident to stay for music and figured one of the nurses or aides would take her back to her room but something magical happened during the next song... I spoke of the whimsical character and sense of awe I felt when playing the Blue Danube Waltz. I shared with the residents how much I enjoyed playing the piece due to its versatility and presence in commercials, cartoons, and movies.
When I reached the main theme, the resident paused and turned her head and moved her wheelchair towards my direction. Her face softened as she closed her eyes and gracefully raised her arms in the air. She proceeded to move with the music as if someone had placed a conductor's baton in her hand. I watched in awe as she smiled and continued to conduct as I played the waltz.
After the end of the song, she exclaimed, "Bravo!" I couldn't help but feel grateful because the music created something so powerful and transformative.
Once the last song ended, the resident said thank you and asked when I was coming back. She also said I did a beautiful job and loved the music. I told her I would return next week and thanked her for staying. I left the facility and thought...hm. Perhaps there is beauty in the blue Danube.