The big concern…you know how much I really love piano, thanks to the efforts and encouragement of Mom and Dad, and, of course, Aunt Tantan, who was the encourager par excellance! In 2011 when we moved to Panorama, I knew I still wanted to play for others who could become calmed; feel peace, enjoyment, uplifted, inspired… everything I experience when I have the opportunity to play. BUT, I faced the reality that there was no way I could (or even WANTED) to have to spend hours, days, weeks, months aspiring of one day playing Bach Inventions, Preludes and Fugues, Beethoven Sonatas, the many Chopin Waltz’s, the Spanish Dances, etc., that I loved and played from memory for many years.
The QUESTION: what would be accepted and enjoyed that I was able to play, now that I am over 70? Would the residents even tolerate the simple melodic melodies, simple boogie, blues, jazz, old time favorites and hymns that were comfortable enough for me to perform now?
I would just hold off and feel my way through this, playing on my almost 88-key electronic piano to get a “little brushed up,” after unpacking and settling down before attempting to play for anyone. For a few months, I would “sneak” into the older Quinault Auditorium when it was vacant, turn on just enough light if I really needed it, hold that sostenuto (soft) pedal down and try to get a little familiar with a “real” piano again…a YAMAHA, too! Ahhh, the feeling and hominess! I would thank God out loud for the opportunity, sometimes playing 2.5 hours non-stop, then close the piano carefully, reposition the heavy padded cover, and be overjoyed with the occasion. Sporadically, then frequently, someone would stop in and ask permission to just sit and listen. I welcomed the opportunity, since I needed the practice of playing for a “breathing” piece of furniture…and that DOES make a big difference, as most normal human beings know.
Finally! We underwent our first experience of Panorama’s Got Talent show. I sat in that very front row with a huge smile on my face, especially listening to Mary P. and Hugh F. They did not sing together at that time, but sang with such expression and beautiful voices, I knew that they must have had been trained professionals in drama and voice. I wondered: if they could perform that well as seniors, what must they have been like 30 years ago!? And if those two could still give joy to so many of us residents, I, too, felt that I would want to share what was left of the gift that God has given me. Later each of them would remark to me that they were just not what they were like years ago. BINGO…did I understand! I had to express to them how grateful I am that they still share talents with us…that none of us residents are what we were years ago, but we could be thankful with what we still can share.
FYI: I never thought I would get to play as much as I do. So far after two years (as of July 3, 2013) at Panorama, I am privileged to help others enjoy calming music in the Convalescent and Rehab Center entrance as often as I am able and in their Gentle Care, and dining room for entertainment, at fund-raising events, style show, Vespers, and for KPAN performance background music, etc. I get to play for PCTV and play duets weekly with my garden-home neighbor, Helen W., on her lovely grand piano only four doors away. We performed two show tunes together in the talent show finale.
Many residents are probably tired of my constant exclaiming, “Just when I think that Panorama can’t get any better, someone pulls something like this!” (whatever the event or occasion is we are attending). Well, Mary P. and Hugh F., you did influence my life here at Panorama for the better… THANK YOU BOTH!
*** Mary Jo S.