Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You Can Make a Difference

I have been taking the instructional jam groups to our local nursing home for the past several years now.  Each group practices the songs for several months or so until they start to come together, then everyone volunteers for breaks and kicks-offs to prepare for the concert.  Everyone takes this very seriously, and you might be surprised how nervous the students are to perform for the residents at the New Athens Home.

Last year, when my dad was ill, he had to stay in the New Athens Home for a short time.  I didn't think any of the residents would know me outside of the jam groups that I bring.  Boy, was I wrong!  As I walked through the hallways to my Dad's room, people spoke from their rooms and from their wheelchairs, all saying hello and asking when was I going to bring another group to play music for them.  It touched me more than words can say because I guess I thought they would forget or that it wasn't that big of a deal.

Yesterday was another one of those moments that really hit home.  I took another jam group to the home last night and we played for an hour.  We did songs that I wondered if the jam group might think was "below" them.  I picked out songs like Oh Susanna! and She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain.  I wanted songs that the residents might know so that they could participate in the singing with us.  As we played, I encouraged them to sing along and even "dance."  I told them they could dance by moving their feet or just by holding hands with the person next to them and moving to the music.  And they did!  I told them the names of the musicians and made up little jokes about each one.  Then I would ask the residents if they remembered the music students' names.  We would try to remember their names, and they would try to remember our names.

When we were done playing, I thanked them for coming to listen to us play, and then I asked the music students to stay and talk to everyone -- which is something that we always do.  I was talking to one of the ladies that always comes to listen to our music.  I asked her how her day was.  She told me that it had started out really bad, but that it was good now because we had come to play music.  She told me that she had been having trouble with her eyes and that the doctor told her she was going blind.  She was scared.  She told me how a couple of relatives were supposed to come and visit her that day, but that even though they were only about 10 miles away, they didn't make it to visit.  She said that she was so happy when she heard we were coming, and that it had made her bad day into a good day.

My point?  You can share your music and make a difference.  These music students weren't musical prodigies.  They were "regular" folks having fun and sharing what they learned.  They were making a difference in other peoples' lives by taking the time out to play for them.  It doesn't matter how good you are, how perfect you play, how great your voice is, how wonderful you are with crowds or even how nervous you get!  What matters is that you take time to share with others.   You may find that it not only makes their day, but that it makes your day, too!