Archive for the ‘Learning Music’ Category


I learned a new song yesterday. Three Coins in a Fountain from the 1954 movie of the same name sung by Dean Martin (also recorded by Frank Sinatra, The Four Aces, and Jack Jones) as requested by a gentleman at Post House in Glassboro, NJ. Today I played it for the first time (at a different venue). One man from whom I’ve never really heard much coherent said “three coins in a fountain”. I was so pleased he recognized it and showed signs of liking it. Normally he grumbles to himself, though once he did start ‘singing’ “You Ain’t Nothin But A Hound Dog” when I played “Love me Tender.” :) He’s a man one could easily assume is ‘not all there,’ but he acknowledges me with his eyes and these occasional musical connections. It’s wonderful because he’s one of those visibly affected by harp therapy. Today’s was such a short moment, but of a significance where one couldn’t say it was “just” a moment.

There was another encounter today where one of the residents’ daughter told me she noticed the whole hallway quiet down when I started walking down and playing. That was really nice to hear, because I don’t always notice the change in dynamic when I’m focusing on the individuals. She was so appreciative of the soothing music for her mother and for the rest of the residents. That’s something I really need to keep better track of. I got to a point in my internship, and I suppose still now with my work, where I heard something like that so often that I stopped recording it. For these people it’s so novel and special, and what more can a person say than “Oh thank you that is so soothing” or some variation thereof? I will make it a point from now on to keep better track. It’s nice to be appreciated, but rather more important to know how many people I’ve touched with my music. Sometimes people aren’t verbal with their thanks. Some people can’t be, so I don’t have any more proof than the appreciation of their peers and my intuition that they can hear me and I’m having an effect on them without checking their monitors, which I can’t normally do in the nursing home setting.

Big happenings

Well so far I have not done so well with my New Year’s resolution, but, if at first you don’t succeed, try try try again. Or some such. I don’t believe very many people currently read this anyway, so hopefully by the time I do get any regulars, there will be enough posts to keep them occupied for a time.

I have been getting busier and busier with the NJ hospice. They send me every which way in NJ. It seems their largest populations are 45 minutes to an hour away! As much as I drive, though, the time really flies. It gives me a chance to catch up on some great music on XPN.

My online ethics course for BSH started a couple weeks ago. So far we’ve gotten to know each other and read a couple chapters. I’d say it’s going well so far, but nothing overly-enticing just yet. It’s tough for me to engage because I’ve never been much for writing (as you may well see), so after having done my assignments, I don’t usually have much to say to my classmates. They’re all very supportive and say things like “Oh what a wonderful response,” but that’s just not my style. I feel like my posts should be substantive, or non-existent. For those who don’t know me, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal.

Also in educational news, I’ve started taking lessons again. I was correct that I need to brush up on technical skills. My fingers got so confused at my first lesson when I had to pre-place them and use the fourth finger in my right hand. When I do therapy, neither of those techniques get much use. Already after my first official practice session, I feel a little better and more like a harp player. That is not to say that anyone who doesn’t worry about form isn’t one, it’s just that it personally gives me that extra sense of purpose. Or purposefulness, rather. I feel like I can give more of myself and my music to the patients by paying more attention. For me, the music comes pretty easily, and I’ve noticed myself slipping in focus even though pretty notes are still coming from my fingers.

Last but most certainly not least, I finally experienced my first death from the bedside yesterday. It is odd that I’ve been playing for people very near death for some time now, but had not yet been there at the final moment. It was most assuredly a sad time – the patient had many family members present, one of whom was wailing loudly the whole time (and I most definitely don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, I’m just not sure how to write crying/yelling politely). I was blocked from view most of the time, and I wasn’t sure when she passed. For all I know, she may have been gone by the time I got there. She didn’t look any different. I didn’t expect her to, of course, and yet – well some people speak of signs and such. I think there was just too much going on around her. For sure I had to spend a few minutes in the hallway to collect myself. One nurse was actually very kind and asked if I was alright. Sadly, the patient across from her passed while I was playing for someone else, and I hadn’t had a chance to play for him. I’m hoping he got some of my music from the hallway.

Song I learned today: “Santa Lucia” = traditional Neapolitan song. Recorded by Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, and Elvis (among many others). Hear it on YouTube. Learned at the request of a patient at Cardinal Village in NJ.