Sunday, June 12, 2011

52 Weeks of Giving --- Week 23 --- Play Music for Grandparents

Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter --
to all these music gives voice,
but in such a way that we are
transported from the world of unrest
to a world of peace, and
see reality in a new way,
as if we were sitting by a mountain lake and
contemplating hills and woods and
clouds in the tranquil and fathomless water.
~ Albert Schweitzer

For the 23rd week of the 52 Weeks of Giving, the girls played music for their grandparents for their 47th wedding anniversary which is on June 13th.  The girls played music on the harp and piano before we took them out.  (After listening to music for a short time, we drove them to diferent areas of the city with which they were familiar and brought back lot of memories; went out to eat and enjoyed being outdoors for a meal; and visited Minnehaha Falls.)

Sophia playing music for her grandparents.
Olivia was holding music when Sophia
didn't yet know it from memory.

As Albert Schweitzer noted above, music has many benefits.  After listening to Sophia play the harp, Nana (Sophia's grandma) said that the music was "beautiful" and that it was "so relaxing to listen to." She said she could listen to the music all day. 

In doing a quick search on the internet about the benefits of live harp music, some benefits were noted repeatedly on different sites.  Harp music can:

- lower blood pressure,
- decrease the heart rate, and
- increase the oxygenation levels.

Seniors, specifically, benefit greatly from harp music.  Listening to live harp music can:
- Bring about better awareness and concentration
- Enhance interest levels and social interaction
- Improve memory and recall
- Help create a better outlook on life and higher self-esteem
- Increase mobility and coordination
- Diminish pain and improve recovery time
- Reduce tension and promote relaxation

After Sophia was done playing, her grandma said her favorite part was when all the strings were played in a row (this is called a glissando).  So, Sophia brought over the harp to Nana and said, "Would you like to play it?" 

"I don't know how to," she said.

"Here...put your fingers here and then do this," Sophia held her grandma's fingers as she slid them down the strings.  After that, she continued playing the harp by pulling at some of the strings and moving her hands along the strings. 

"I could just listen to the harp all day long," she said.

Then it was Papa's turn (Sophia's and Olivia's grandfather).  "You want to try, Papa?"  Having Alzheimer's Disease affected his ability to comprehend what she was asking and hoping for. 

"Dad, put your fingers on the strings here," I said. He grabbed the longest string with his entire hand.  I loosened his grip and gently placed his fingers on the strings.  "Like this..." I showed him.

"Just gentle, Papa," Sophia said as I pulled his fingers along the strings.  I let go of his fingers and he continued playing for a bit longer.

"I use to do this," he said.  Knowing that he never played the harp, but he did play the piano and organ, I realized it had brought back memories of him playing an instrument when he was younger and before he had Alzheimer's Disease.

For my parents (the girls' grandparents...Papa and Nana), this short time with music touched several senses:  the sense of hearing, touch, and sight, with the first two having the greatest impact. 

This is something that the girls and I plan to continue doing - not each time we visit them, but frequently enough so that the benefits of listening to live music can be shared with them.


Fairy Tale Mama said...

What a nice anniversary gift!

Anonymous said...

My grandparents loved listening to music their whole lives. When they got old enough that they could no longer go to concerts, they appreciated people coming to play music for them so much. I hadn't realized when I was a kid playing in nursing homes how much joy less-than-professional music can bring. I love this entire series of things your kids are doing for others!