Connecting through song

The last palindromic day of the year (3/19/13) was the first day of my collaborative project with my Elderberry partner. Throughout the semester, she often brought up the established hobbies in her life: gardening, cooking, vegetarianism, painting, but above all, singing. After learning this, one day I tried singing some Beatles tunes with her, and was pleasantly surprised to find that she remembered the lyrics to Blackbird. She remarked, “I’m so glad to know young people are still singing things like that,” which made me laugh, and I assured her that we young people knew all about the Beatles.
Therefore, when the time came for us to plan our collaborative projects, I decided I would learn some Beatles songs and, manned with my guitar, sing with my partner.
I was really nervous, anticipating that she wouldn’t enjoy the activity, or wouldn’t remember any of the lyrics and I would end up serenading her, which I would have enjoyed, but I wasn’t sure that she would. However, everything ended up being fine. I strummed, and we sang, and during the choruses of certain songs, I was delighted by how her voice rang out, and I could tell she radiated happiness.
That day was a little different from previous sessions where we worked together on paintings, collages, and the like. Though she enjoyed spending time together and creating art, I could tell on that first day of our collaborative project, my partner was genuinely happy. I could tell that singing is what she uninhibitedly enjoys.
This experience made me realize that it didn’t matter if my partner remembered the lyrics or not. She simply enjoyed the act of singing, sharing in a musical experience and letting her voice ring out. I had been so hung up on making sure to print the lyrics in a big enough font and organizing the papers while we were singing. However, halfway through the hour, I realized I needed to just let it go and put the papers down and look at my partner and sing. That’s when we enjoyed it the most, and it reminded me of the importance of relaxing and flexibility in every aspect of life, not just working with a person with Alzheimer’s disease.
Emily Paik, Art & Design and Psychology student

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