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so you think you can dance?~

Brad Richardson

April 6th, 2010

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Locked up for your protection…As I drove up to the Memory Care Center it was a neat, clean looking building, just like the picture above, except with a beautiful white fence around it. I quickly realized that the white fence was not for aesthetic purposes, but was a locked border for the safety of the residents that might tend to wander…”Ginger,” the happy and smiling brown Labrador met me at the gate and ran before me to the door, as if to welcome my presence and say, “We’ve been waiting for you!”

The gathering… I arrived with 3 other “Musicianaries,” talented and gifted musicians that recognize a calling to use their gift of music to bring hope, happiness and healing to those that are hurting. We arrived an hour before our scheduled start time, but the staff was so looking forward to the morning of music, they were already wheeling and walking the residents into the common area.

As we plugged in guitars, set up conga drums and checked the volume on the piano, some of our new friends watched with smiles and anticipation. Others sat quietly in chairs, some dozed off and some just had blank stares on their aged faces. “Eric” was being helped in by a nurse and obviously did not want to be there…as he was mumbling under his breath the whole way and certainly did not want to sit down in the overstuffed chair. He reluctantly gave in to the young nurse.

As I shuffled my music stand and plugged in my small amplifier, I had to work around the gentleman seated in the chair that was positioned in front of the electrical outlet. He was slightly hunched over as he was sleeping…all of the commotion did not disturb him one bit.

“When you’re smiling…   when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” As we began to play and sing, warmth and love began to fill the room…even the scowl on Eric’s face began to ease and when I asked our grateful audience to show us their smiles, most of them responded the best they could. I looked directly at Eric and gave him my happy face…he looked at me and cracked a wry smile…there we go…the musical mission was beginning to fulfill it’s purpose.

“Unresponsive…” Remember the gentleman I had to work around to plug in? We will call him William…well, as the music began to fill the room William woke up. But for the first several musical selections he just sat there with a blank stare.Unresponsive. This is typical for many Alzheimer’s patients. Unresponsive to life…to stimulus…to family members. But there is a magic in the music…a magic that goes beyond human understanding and reaches into the dark caverns of the heart, mind and spirit and calls forth those that have withdrawn from the world around them. As David, Al and I gave Lorraine the musical accompaniment, she waltzed over to William and began to sing to him…and as she held out her hands he roused, took her hands, stood up…she gently led him to the middle of the room as the staff broke out into laughter and smiles…William began to twist his hips around…and around…his face lit up and the look in his eyes was that of a young schoolboy. William even “eyed” a couple of the ladies as he danced and danced…and even though the feet were barely moving, you could see that “on the inside” he was dancing with as much passion, energy, grace and charm as anyone ever has.

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