Sometimes when playing popular tunes, I wonder if patients and residents recognize or appreciate them because often the singer has as much to do with their emotional connection as the tune itself. Tonight I ran into a great example of why I shouldn’t worry so much about it. When people really know and love a song, they sing along and/or probably hear their favorite singer  singing along in their heads. By request, I learned “Because of You” written by Arthur Hammerstein and Dudley Wilkinson and used in the 1951 film “I Was an American Spy” (according to Wikipedia).

The first version I heard was a rather jazzy one by Louis Armstrong.

The next was a crooning one by Tony Bennet.

I then clicked on what turned out to be an operatic version sung by Jan Peerce.

And lastly, well I just have to say this one is pretty weird.

3 Responses to “Stylizing”

  1. Becky says:

    I’m worried that I will be asked (during my internship) to play a popular song and I just won’t know it. What do you usually say? The fact that you play by ear definitely comes in handy here. I do, to a certain extent, but it takes a while to pick out the notes and remember them. I just started the prep school for IHTP and I’m very excited to get started! When did you start feeling comfortable playing in front of others at hospitals/hospices?

  2. Kitty says:

    Hey congrats on getting started for IHTP! That is exciting :) Not knowing a song happens to me all the time. Luckily most of the people I see, I see relatively frequently, so I tell them I will try to learn it for the next time I see them, and then learn it. If you’re in a hospital situation where people come and go more frequently, if you have a smartphone with youtube access, you could attempt to learn at least a bit while on a break. Or if you don’t, well, such is life. Hopefully you’ll see them again. At the very least they’ve given you a new song to learn that you may not have heard before and you can play it in their honor whenever you play it.

    As for feeling comfortable, it just takes doing it. Shadowing another harpist once or twice helps. When you’re playing an actual song and you miss the note you were aiming for, just use the one you played instead a passing note and keep going. There is no real messing up. If you have time, run through the song or verse again with the right note in your head and fingers. The beauty of playing all the time is you’re practicing all the time, and thus learning all the time, even on the job!

  3. Becky says:

    Thanks so much Kitty! Your suggestions will help when that time comes. :)

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