The Old Woman- Family Support Story #2

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Working with families is one of the elements at the core of what I do as a music teacher, musician, and healer.  Over my 20+ years of working in my business I have encountered so many different family dynamics, and have been able to customize my services to best serve each one that in ways that are of great mutual benefit. Not all of my clients are family based, but often they are.  I provide services to families with special needs, with elderly and infant members, parent and child joint sessions, and I’ve even been able to provide support in times of death, medical urgency, birth, divorce, and of course, joy.

This blog series will explore some of the various experiences that I have been privilege to have a role in regarding family dynamics.

Story #2: The Old Woman

Many years ago, I couldn’t even begin to guess when, but I got a call from an elderly gentleman who inquired about lessons for his eighty-five year old wife who had always wanted to play music but surprisingly never had.  So this was a special type of lesson, and my first of its kind at that time.

In total I think I met with her maybe five times before she called it quits, which is still incredible.  I recall those lessons being unique in the challenges that were presented. He would set us up in the living room.It seemed like a nice little break for him, as I got the impression that with her somewhat rocky state of health was a lot for him. So I was able to provide her some entertainment and exploration, while providing him a bit of a bubble to relax in for a while. In this aspect, the sessions seemed to be beneficial to all.

Mostly, I remember her hands... They were stiff, but also very soft, and I remember having to be (or thinking that I had to be) extremely gentle so as not to hurt her. I did learn later that she could barely feel her hands at her age so it wasn’t really an issue.  She was fairly sharp given her age and condition and she seemed to enjoy our time.Even though she never really got far into the lessons, she sure did seem to enjoy trying to play the guitar. As an instrument, guitar is already a little tricky and requires a bunch of flexibility and strength, so I can only imagine that it was pretty difficult for her.  

Trying to find music that she could relate to was also tricky. I know a fair amount of artists from past generations, but I often found myself scratching my head about what to teach her that would be of interest.  In the end, I believe that I spent my time with her working on a few chords, a strum pattern, and some single note exercises. Not much really, but she was making the time and effort to give it a try and no matter a person’s age, there is immense value in giving a good efforted attempt.  Her husband would pop in and see what was happening every so often, and he too seemed to take joy in watching her learn something new despite her challenges. It was a sweet gesture he made, getting her the lessons, and I will always remember thinking that as well.

I recall being inspired to never let age get in my way when it came to trying something new, like music or dance or whatever, no matter my age. Still think about the old woman, and though I don’t remember much more than I’ve said here, I don’t think I’ll forget the feeling of the experience.  It was one of the earliest outside-of-the-box lessons I had ever given and I did learn a lot from it.This experience would become even more valuable as in later years I would get more elderly clients, and also work in retirement assisted living facilities.


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