An article in today’s New York Times has me longing more than ever to have even an itsy bitsy bit of musical ability. Music Therapy Offers an End-of-Life Grace Note zings straight to my heart, thinking how much our beloved, much-missed Anne Davis Hyatt would envy Beverly Herzog, a 90-year old resident at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, perched on the Hudson River, just south of Yonkers. Once every week, Mrs. Herzog works with a music therapist, WRITING SONGS. For the first time in her life! Did I mention that she suffers from memory loss?
Although she can be confused about many things – looking forward to a visit from her husband, who’s no longer with us – Mrs. Herzog is sharp when it comes to song writing, offering detailed edits to a recent lyric ~ ~ “Where it says ‘I’m getting old,’ it should say, ‘I’m getting older,’ because I am getting older now. And it is hard work.”
Singing the lyrics she wrote connects the nonagenarian to past moments, loved ones, including her parents. She wishes her mother could hear her songs, which now total four, including “Family First” and “The Song” ~ ~ “She’d be sitting here crying, she would be so proud.“
It is a constant frustration to me that my little hometown has a deep reservoir of musical talent, yet I don’t know of any initiative any of them are taking that comes remotely close to what’s offered on a regular basis up in Riverdale.
If I could carry a tune or read music, I’d…
- Offer a weekly jam session at our local senior residence, regular sing-a-longs with instrumentals by resident musicians.
- Organize a pool of volunteers to sing in newborns with lullabies, sing out olders with beloved songs & hymns, offer solace to those who could use a lift with the healing touch of music. Couple be one, a duet, trio, ensemble – whoever is available.
- Put together a recording of musicians & singers from around the world, all with a piece of their heart living in the senior residence, performing favorite songs & music pieces.
- Lead songwriting sessions, pairing local musicians/singers with “senior” composers & lyricists.
- Throw down the challenge to our local elementary school, high school & college to come up with creative, mutually enriching musical connections with olders elders ancients throughout our little community.
Hmmmm…. I have zip musical talent, but I can do something for all the role models & mentors tucked into CV, open to any older from the community ~ ~ Colorful Swing, teaming fun coloring pages with music from the Great American Songbook. I can present videos of Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr, Carole King/James Taylor, Frank Sinatra…
Dear Mrs. Herzog – Beverly – thank you for inspiring me to stop focusing on how I can’t bring more music into the lives of dear-to-my-heart olders elders ancients & focus on how I CAN. Take a bow!