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Good for the Now

314. Good for the Now

I was working as a secretary when I heard that a nursing home thirty minutes from me was looking for a piano player. I interviewed. They hired me. They had a white activity room which doubled as a place for residents to eat for lunch and dinner. But it was in that room that I was expected to play the piano.

I played—for parties, and for sing-a-longs. And then it seemed there needed to be more. So I took my guitar and started a Wandering Minstrel program, where I walked throughout the nursing home, visiting people in their rooms or in the halls.

My program grew to establishing small groups of persons with Alzheimers, with ministering to people who were confined to bed or to their room, to working with families who were keeping vigil with their family member who appeared to be dying.

I started attending New York University to get a masters in music therapy, and the program in the nursing home deepened even more. I wrote my thesis on this work and titled it: “Nursing Home Residents—Holding On and Letting Go with Music.”

I worked at that home for eleven years, I wrote reports, told stories to the owner of the home about my musical contacts, shared feedback from New York University about the music therapy program I had set up.

When I left they ran an ad in the newspaper for the job. It read: Needed: piano player.

At first my reaction was, “They didn’t get it—they didn’t recognize what I had done or they would have advertised for a music therapist.” But I was very clear to myself that the work I had done in the eleven years was valuable in itself. It was positive for many residents and their families. It was good for the Now.

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