When total strangers make a point to come over to me, in walkers no less, to say “We REALLY needed this!”, and give me a big hug, it makes my heart almost explode with joy! This is a dividend to performing again that I NEVER anticipated.
On Valentine’s day when most are scurrying around getting for for a big date night, I had two senior gigs back to back a couple miles from one another. At the second one, there were two women seated not more than 4 feet away from me, who, for the first half of the show, were not into it AT all.
About half way through the show they began coming around a bit. The first was a beautiful woman with snow white braided hair who revealed to me a radiant smile. I wanted to take her home with me.
The other was an African American lady who just looked pissed off. So I decided to crank things up a bit. I wasn’t sure what I did wrong, but I was gonna try to fix it. Some of the others were so enthused I asked them to sing along and they did.
That’s when I noticed these two ladies singing bits and pieces of phrases with me. The African American lady began to tap her feet and make enough arm gestures for me to figure out that she was probably a helluva dancer in her day.They’d cut in and out like a bad cell phone connection. They were fully engaged when the reception was there. It just wasn’t there consistently.
When it was over, there was silence as they filed out of the room, when one of the nurses approached me.
“That was really something! You were wonderful. You had me in tears. Have you ever sung in a facility like this before? ”
“Thank you! Actually I just came racing from a performance at one of your affiliates.”
“We are the only home in our group like this one.”
I had no idea what she was talking about.
“I started to cry because you really moved them.”
“Really? I wasn’t sure they were into it. ”
“I’ve worked here for a few years and we’ve never even heard those two ladies make even a sound before, let alone move! ”
Really? It wasn’t until I saw the chaos that ensued near the elevator that I realized what she was talking about. There was a great deal of confusion about who was supposed to go where and when.
This is a residence for late stage dementia and Alzheimers patients! (I can be a bit slow at times.) I had no idea! I had never been in a facility like this.
I cried all the way home. I felt so honored. This was the BEST VALENTINE’S GIFT EVER.
It’s funny. I’ve wanted to perform for as long as I can remember. Perhaps my 30 year hiatus was a good thing.
In my 20’s it was all about the attention and asking the audience to come into my nutty emotional world.
I realize now that it’s never about the performer. It’s about the audience and what they feel and how they relate to the music. It’s not about me at all!!! Duh!
I’d like to think I’m a pretty great performer. What happened on Valentines Day was the result of the music. The magic is in the music.
I LOVE THAT! And while I’ve taken a enormous pay cut, I’m a thousand times happier writing this blog and singing than I was when I had a steady income.
If you’re at all curious about the effects of music on Alzheimers, check out this video. It’s fantastic!!!!