The Melody Lingers – Music and Aging

The following are references for a Tele-seminar offered on  - May 2, 2012 with Alex Doman, Don Campbell and Christina Tourin
Healing at the Speed of Sound - to hear the recording and/or order the book (ebook available in many places) please follow this 

Music with Stoke Patients

A lovely woman by the name of Fern woke one day to find her world had changed having just experienced a stroke. While in the rehabilitation unit, she was deeply depressed while going through the arduous task of learning how to feed and dress herself and the daily routines that we so often take for granted.In the midst of her tears and frustration, I was able to find out that she had enjoyed writing poetry for children.

We set about getting her equippedwith a computer where she could type out her poetry (one-handed). As families came to visit the other residents in rehab, the children began to make pictures of Fern’s poems. The process developed into setting her poetry to music.

Two months after Fern had been admitted to the hospital, she left to go home but first stopped off at a concert where we presented her with 100 recordings of her poems set to music and 100 coloring books developed from the children’s art. These books and recordings were then sent to Paul Newman’s Hole In The Wall Camps for children with terminal illnesses.
This is the power of music.

Caregiving

Assisted Living, Group and Retirement Centers, Nursing Homes, Senior Resident Homes and Alzheimers Centers are wonderful places to bring joy and music-making to people.

Many of the graduates of the International Harp Therapy Program bring their harps to assisted living homes. Each person has a very easy part to play, either a line of a melody or a chord progression. We also use bells so that more people have the opportunity to play along.


Harp Circle in Assisted Living, Senior Homes and Nursing Homes


At Wake Forest Baptist Medical Hospital in NC and other hospitals throughout the country, Harp Circles are bringing joy and companionship to those dealing with the trials and tribulations of their cancer diagnosis. Our Color My World Series offers songs and videos to help deal with the diversity of emotions while meeting in groups.

Music for Cancer Support - Pink Harps
We are excited to announce our new Breast Cancer Support  Group Harp Circles featuring all Pink Harps! 
Our new program for Support Groups for Breast Cancer will feature 6 pink harps and music of hope, self-esteem, and courage.

 

Music at the End of Life

A TRIBUTE TO RUTH HERSEY COOPER
Living has its share of joys and sorrows
 and it is so good that we have this IHTP family who support one another. I’m going through one of these times in life when one knows that it is all part of the human experience but at the same time, it can be overwhelming and very emotional.  Many of you have followed this BLOG about my mother who was diagnosed just 3 weeks ago with cancer and liver failure. It has been a very intense 3 weeks and now we are in hospice in Auburn, Maine where she is taking her final breaths on this Earth plane. I will keep up some of the pictures and recap.  I want to thank everyone for your prayers and all the beautiful messages that I shared with mother.

I am not the only one who is going through sensitive times – there are so many people experiencing hard times. Each Sunday we invite people to come together to hold those people in thought and prayer and play ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. Intention does make a difference.

Ruth Hersey Cooper

 

Yesterday was special (2.16.12). I had a small harp with me at the hospital and was playing for Mom. At one point I turned the harp around so that she could play some glissandos. She has not been able to play for a long time especially with the tremors in her hands but here we were playing Amazing Grace and she was doing the glissandos and I became deep in the spirit of the experience remembering back to when I was a teenager and she and I used to play duets for the American Harp Society concerts. Here are some pictures to share with you about our time together.

Ruth Hersey Cooper Playing for Mom Ruth Hersey Cooper

 

UPDATE: 3.22.12
Here is a movie I put together from our time in the hospital with some still pictures at the end of the movie. Mom is at peace with her decision not to have a stent inserted that would only buy her probably 3 more months. Tomorrow, we are going to make her Easter Bonnet. I’m planning to do that with the residents at her Boarding home. Here is the movie:

I spend days with mother assembling pictures in the scrapbooks, reading letters that we hold onto throughout our lives, making Easter Bonnets for the residents at the Assisted living home as we sing and make music. Today she taught me an old song that my grandmother used to play. Sing Me to Sleep - by Edward Green.

I have ordered the sheet music and downloaded the recording sung by Alma Gluck. Now that I’ve heard it, I remember hearing it all the time when I was little.  Our Easter Bonnets came out great. And mom’s picture and playing is ready to incorporate with that of the residents next week when we have our Easter Parade.  As for mother, she is pain free – not on meds yet but getting more yellow. (She chose the yellow harp so she would look less yellow! – besides she said yellow was cheerful!).

She is now on hospice care.  She spends more time in bed and is now being wheeled in the wheelchair rather than the walker. But these are the days when friends and family are visiting and we are walking down memory lane.

This was a song my grandmother used to play each night that my mother remembered so I got the music and we sang it together. Click on the image to see the video.

UPDATE: 4.5.12 
Mom is now entering the transition process. Little intake of food, more pain medication, lots of fluids, and now in bed. She has enjoyed looking at the photo albums she put together the past couple of days but today, we thought she would be heading to hospice house but there were no beds so we managed to get some stronger medication for the time being. Meanwhile, I spent time with her friends at the home to celebrate Easter and their bonnets. Below you will find the Easter Parade video. Mother decided she looked too yellow in her bonnet and asked me not to post it but she liked the composite I put together in it’s place. She is in pink!  And also, another picture towards the beginning of when she was young with her white hat. A friend sent me some lovely Celtic Prayers and this one is by John O’Donohue

Beannacht
On the day when the weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance to balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind the grey window
And the ghost of loss gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green, and azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays in the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow wind work
These words of love around you,
An invisible cloak to mind your life.

John O’Donohue (1956-2008)

Here is a picture of the flock of colours that created my meadow of delight today while sharing with the residents. IHTP student Caroline Huff sent 36 colorful leis from Hawaii and we filled the Easter baskets with them!  Thank you Caroline. The words of this poem really touched and helped me tonight.

UPDATE  4.7.12 
Mother was transferred to hospice today – the pain started to get bad yesterday and we were relieved that she could get to hospice for the morphine. At 2 p.m. today, my brother and his girlfriend got married in a brief ceremony at mom’s bedside. Grace looked lovely in her gown and Tim in his tux. Immediately after the ceremony when they left for the reception, mother was put on a morphine drip to keep her comfortable from now on. I will be staying at hospice. I cherish the time we have had together and now it is time to be still and know – know that it is all part of the larger plan. My father passed away on April 9th – 9 years ago. I know he is waiting (as is my grandmother) waiting to welcome her. Parting is never easy.

UPDATE  4.8.12 (morning)
On my way to hospice now.
I share with you the picture that mother has beside her.

UPDATE  4.8.12 (evening)
I read softly to her todayRemember The Secret by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross – so beautiful. On another level, I’m sure she heard it. She is seeing beyond now and in the process of leaving this earthly plane. I stepped out for an hour to have Easter Dinner with my brothers, their families and my son Mischa. On the way back to hospice I saw two bald eagles flying over head. And now I’m back at hospice. Life is indeed a mystery but my father and grandmother have entered now.

 

UPDATE  4.11.12 
So sacred, so profound, our journey in life. Living, breathing, birthing to Earth, birthing to Heaven. So many emotions now, Mom, now that you went over the bridge – tears so quickly surface, missing you terribly yet so joyous that you are with Dad and your mother and all on the otherside, so thankful you are not in pain, so full of mystery to what this is all about.

My family is so wonderful. My brothers and their families – everyone was there for her. On Thursday evening we will hold visiting hours at the Andrews Funeral Home from 5:00-7:00 p.m. (Buckfield, Maine) and on Friday, there will be a glorious celebration for mom at the Buckfield Community Church at 2:00 p.m.  Mom chose all the music and verses, her beautiful picture playing the harp, pink roses, a pink lambie cake – she had fun planning her ‘party’ and said she will be there looking down on everyone and enjoying the day. Springtime color attire (especially pink – her favorite color) is requested. All through the process from Easter Sunday to 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, April 10th, it was as if she were climbing up that bridge (see above) until finally to got to the top and was able to fly to the other side. Oh, what a special lady you are mom!  You have touched so many lives!  Thank you for everything – no one could have asked for more!  You are so beautiful!

Dear family and friends,  The church is going to be so amazing tomorrow! I even got pink sequin sneakers because of my bum foot!  It is going to be like an explosion of spring – of paradise!  The music she wanted is divine!  Aria in Classic Style from her past professor at Juilliard, Marcel Grandjany; Hymns by her pianist friend Steve Hall, music by the boys choir LIBERA, and if I’m able – a song.

To my IHTP family, words cannot begin to tell you what a difference your messages made in her life.  Three weeks ago, she thought that she was only worth for providing jobs for people to take care of her and wondered why she was still here. In the past three weeks, your thoughts, words and prayers boosted her spirits where she came to feel that, indeed, she made a difference in the world through all of you.  I am so glad that I came forth to you to let you know what was going on. Each day I would sit with her with our daily messages of love and gratitude from you brought not only a smile to her face in wonderment but built a flower garden around her of reality that she did make a contribution with her music!

To hear her acknowledge that finally was what I had been trying to tell her for so long and now she heard it, not just because I was her daughter!  What a gift!  Thank you!  And may we always remember to let all our friends and acquaintances know how special they are and sing their praises!  I invite you to think pink and just play harp at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern time) or anytime for the world to be a better place because of music – because of caring – just because of LOVE!

Mother loved her lamb. (A beautiful ceramic large statue that my dad gave to her). I think of the nursery rhyme from “Little Boy Blue come blow your horn, the sheep’s in the meadow and the cow’s in the corn” for my parents as my dad also loved his cows. We are offering this gift card to each tomorrow. Here is her card for you. You may click on it to enlarge it. I will make another posting this weekend as we continue to hold each other in song on Sunday. Do send your posts for prayers and well wishes for those in need.  It does make a difference!

 

 

After everything was done, Mischa and I went to the cemetary and played
music together. It was a very special time to be alone with him and my parents. And we played all their favorite songs.