What you give is what you get

Whenever I go to play music at the hospital, I feel so unprepared. And in today’s case I was unprepared because I had not played anything since Christmas; at which point, I came down with a month-long respiratory illness. I lugged in all my equipment to the unit of the Children’s Hospital, promptly dropped music everywhere, and was too lazy to open either flute case.

So I ended up jamming on the handpan for about an hour and a half in 2 different locations on the unit. I came up with a nifty tune that had a heartbeat. And I went into trance state – hence the title of this post. A baby who was crying uncontrollably in a treatment room instantly calmed down. I always think it’s a coincidence but perhaps it is not. It’s also nice to hear staff say that the music is beautiful but I hope what they are saying is that it is calming them. (One nurse requested that I play closer to their station because they were all in high-strung mode).

I had the chance to practice calm and spread some calm as a code was called over the PA system and police were running around. My inner freak-out was lessened by the handpan and I also figured the metal instrument would make a good shield if it came down to that (yikes).

My intentions are:

To have a nice cart so I can pull around all my equipment and not have my shoulders take the brunt of the weight and bulk.

To be PAID to do what I love to do – even if it is at poverty level, but hopefully not.

 

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New Path

It should come as no surprise, to those who know me, that I have applied to yet another training program today, exactly 4 years and 2 months since I (unwillingly, through disability) left my career as a sign language interpreter.

I write this with a great heaviness in my heart and gut because today there was a shooting in an Oregon HS; the 74th school shooting since the Newtown massacre 18 months ago. I have cried and ranted and been so distressed today that I’ve almost made myself sick. I know – that’s not helping anything. It’s the mom heart in me that cries for the 2,800 kids who had to march out of school today with their hands over their heads amidst SWAT teams. And yes, I cry for the kid who went so wrong (and certainly the kid’s parents) who felt their only way to deal with something was through violence.

There are no easy answers to this and I will forgo any political/gun talk. But I think many people will agree that something has *drastically* changed…changed from the time I went to school when the worst offense was getting caught chewing gum. If the “climate” can change for the bad, it can change for the good. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and countless others are all testament to that.

So – I have applied to an online program to become a Certified Clinical Musician. CCMs play soothing music to distressed people; to those facing surgery (I know a bit about that!) or other medical procedures, to hospice patients etc. It is one on one, live, soothing music tailored to that person’s needs. While people are somewhat familiar with Music Therapists (Gabby Gifford had one after her near fatal gunshot wound), the focus is a bit different with being a therapeutic musician.

I will have to blaze a bold new path because being paid – if even minimally for part-time work – is not a standard yet nor is it in the consciousness of hiring parties. I’m already providing something similar in the hospitals through the Children’s Cancer Association but if they can get the musicians as volunteers – and I certainly advocate being a volunteer  – then it’s harder to make even a slight subsistence from my training. But alas – I must keep the faith.

Here’s to changing the world for the better, one distressed person at a time. Today, I need to start with myself.

 

Bliss

Since last October, I have been playing flute music in the lobby of one of the children’s hospitals in town. It has certainly been a great experience so far, and I look forward to continuing there.

Today, though, I got to play on the unit with the children at the “other” hospital. I LOVED it. A few people told me, in passing, that the music was soothing. A staff member told me that 2 patients down the hall wanted their doors open so they could hear me. YAY! (I marvel at that because I was told repeatedly, before arriving, that I should play very quietly). My dream job would be to get paid to play therapeutic music to folks who need it. And I think we all need it!

The best moment today was when a young boy (a patient) came by on a scooter and asked me about my alto flute. I told him it was really heavy and just handed it over for him to hold. He told me it was not heavy and that it looked like a walking cane (because of the curved head piece). 🙂

I can’t wait till I get to play again!!!

Flutetastic

Flutetastic

 

The Newest Baby

The delivery will be easy but I think my wallet needs an epidural – haha. Look at the *gorgeous* Reverie Harp that’s on the way to my home. I REALLY want to provide therapeutic music to folks, especially and hopefully at the DREAM job I applied for at the children’s hospital. Anyone can play this harp because it is set to a pentatonic (5 note) scale where every note harmonizes with every other note. It’s impossible, even for non-musicians, to hit a “wrong” note. The soothing sounds and the vibrations from having this harp on your lap, or on your chest if you are in a hospital bed, are stellar. And from what I’ve heard, even quadreplegics with some arm motion can play this. How awesome is that???

22 strings, 20" X 12.5"Lightweight, portable, gorgeous sound, anyone can play it!!

22 strings, 20″ X 12.5″
Lightweight, portable, gorgeous sound, anyone can play it!!

The "face" on the harp reminds me of this character.

The “face” on the harp reminds me of this character.