Archive for the ‘Mastery Certification Work’ Category

Where I need to be

Now I know that my lack of posting isn’t for lack of stories. It’s me not being in the habit. I’ve had some inspiring times especially in the last  couple weeks.

One thing the teacher from BSH, Edie, firmly believes and teaches is that there are no coincidences. This often seems to work in our favor. One day two weeks ago, I intended to go to work early, but was inexplicably exhausted when I woke up in the morning and went back to sleep for another two hours. I was disappointed in myself because I’ve really been trying to be better about having a regular sleep schedule. That day I went to Carney’s Point to play. Our nurse there heard me and came to find me to ask me to play for our patient who was actively dying. I was surprised because he wasn’t even on my list. I went to play for him in his small room filled with family members. I don’t even know how long I played, but our nurse felt the need to come in and “rescue” me – I could’ve gone on. Anyway, I went on to play for another patient of ours as well as for the other residents. As I was leaving, one of the earlier man’s loved ones came to thank me and said that not very long after I left he passed. They felt it was peaceful and that I had helped. It’s so lovely to hear that and reminds me how meaningful my work is.

In other news, I’ve finished all the class requirements for my Mastery level – the online research course (which I’m *so glad is behind me!) and the last weekend module. We focused a lot of self-care and meditation again. I’ve started including meditation into my daily routine and I really love it. It’s not routine yet, but I’m getting there.
Really, so much has happened and I’m sorry I’ve not written it down, both for the sharing and also for myself. Heck, regarding ‘no coincidences,’ I didn’t even mean to click on the button to my website just now. I guess my mouse slip was the universe telling me to stop putting off posting.

Playing for smiles

One of my favorite parts of my job (probably my most favorite), is drawing smiles from people who probably don’t have much occasion to. There are some people I see repeatedly who I especially love to play for because I love to see them smile. One, for example, I saw yesterday. I’ve never seen her out of her bed, and often when I go in, she’s talking and she sounds very sad. She’ll say an Eeyore-like “hello,” and then I’ll begin to play “Jesus Loves Me” or “You Are My Sunshine,” and she smiles and laughs and sings along. Yesterday I played both, and when I was finished and started playing for her roommate, she began talking and sounding sad again. I was about to leave when she spoke to me directly and said she missed Santa Claus this year and asked me to ask him to come around. I wasn’t really sure what to say to that, but I started playing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and she laughed and sang along again. Afterwards she said a somewhat cheerier “bye-bye!”

I have another patient I see out in NJ who I’ve been told is generally a “half-empty glass” kind of person. One day I got a call from one of the Compassionate Care social workers just to tell me that this patient told her how much she loves my visits and is always eagerly awaiting the next. There really is nothing to make someone’s day like being told your work is appreciated. I still haven’t quite gotten a smile from her, but last time I saw her, she sang along to “Eidelweiss,” which I quickly learned is her favorite.

In other news, today I got a certificate for passing the National Institute of Health’s online course “Protecting Human Research Participants.” I took the course as a requirement for the Bedside Harp mastery-level certification, and now if I am ever involved in an institutional research study, I have this under my belt.

Two new songs I learned:

I Love You Truly – a parlor song from the turn of the century by Carrie Jacobs Bond, popular in 1912 recorded Elsie Baker. Also recorded by Pat Boone, Victor Borge, Al Bowlly, Bing Crosby, The Ink Spots, Liberace, Guy Lombardo, The Platters, and Lawrence Welk, and of course – Al Martino.

and O Sole Mio – a Neapolitan song from 1898 made popular by the likes of Pavarotti, Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, and Elvis. The lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro, and the melody was composed by Eduardo di Capua.

An inspiring evening

Today I went to a workshop and concert presented by Sunita Stanislow (see her website!). It was fantastic and inspiring. The workshop was called “The Art of the Arpeggio” and she gave a lesson on how to shape and color chords to make our harp playing more musical. She used visual language and technique, and that along with her clearly apparent passion for playing made for an incredibly engaging class. Afterwards, we had the ever-popular Bedside Harp potluck feast complete with goodies from various BSH students. Following dinner, Sunita performed a powerfully entertaining and inspiring concert including traditional and modern Jewish pieces as well as some traditional and not-so-traditional Celtic pieces. I must say one of my favorites (if I could possibly pick one) was her jazzed up version of the Butterfly.

This obviously isn’t her version, but just so you know the song I’m talking about, here’s a youtube video of a  version done by the group Celtic Women.

Tonight’s was the type of concert that makes you want to play all day and all night so you can play those beautiful songs so wonderfully, too. I really would like to learn the quick-fingered Celtic techniques of decorating music to make it really dance, though I did learn some neat tricks today that I will be implementing in my therapy rounds.


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.

Two long days

And it’s only going to get longer. And better! I’ve been hired by a hospice in New Jersey where I’ll be covering three counties. Yesterday was orientation, and today I met some of the staff. Everyone seems really excited and is already thinking about who I should play for. I’m really looking forward to working with and for these people. They’re a really great group.

Afterwards, I went to Abington Memorial and played for an hour. It was my first hour towards getting my mastery level certification from BSH. It went well. I even got a request from a nurse to play for a specific patient, which according to the BSH message boards, happens rather frequently, but it was my first. The lady and her two family members really enjoyed it. I know she wasn’t in a good way because her daughter (I’m guessing) was clearly upset and crying, but the patient was watching and listening and humming along with a smile on her face. Seeing that sign of comfort on people’s faces is one of the best parts of the job.

My next project, besides writing a reading journal, which I haven’t started yet because I got sidetracked in my reading, is remembering to pack myself a lunch for these long days, which I have the feeling will happen more frequently.