Author Archives: volunteerpianist

Memories light the corners of my mind

Remember Henry? In December 2013, I wrote a post about playing the piano for people with dementia, and how music awakens them. In that post, I mentioned the documentary Alive Inside and included the clip featuring Henry. Here’s how he … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Dementia, Music and emotion | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tell it like it is

On a dark cold January morning, I was riding a shuttle van to the Detroit airport parking lot after taking a red-eye flight from Seattle. The driver had tuned into a rebroadcast of Marian McPartland’s NPR program Piano Jazz. The … Continue reading

Posted in Audiences, Jazz, Music and emotion, Volunteering | 5 Comments

Something to remember you by

My Uncle Brian continues to slip away, his brain addled by advancing dementia. You might recall the post I wrote in February about my uncle and his robotic puppy. Brian now lives in a small group home. He likes helping … Continue reading

Posted in Dementia, Piano performance, Reminiscences | Tagged | 10 Comments

Sweet soul music

Earlier this month at my band rehearsal, we sightread through a new piece of sheet music: “It’s All in the Game.” Then we had our usual follow-up discussion after trying new pieces: Did we like it? Enough to work it … Continue reading

Posted in Music and emotion, Music history | Tagged | 2 Comments

The times they are a-changin’

I was eating a bowl of cereal in my kitchen last October when I heard on the radio that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. I abandoned my spelt flakes, went to my sheet music closet, found … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Audiences, Music and emotion, Music programming, Song requests, Volunteering | Tagged | 2 Comments

Don’t be that way

One of the many books my daughter and I enjoyed reading together when she was little was The Bike Lesson, a Berenstain Bears adventure. It still makes me laugh. Small Bear gets a new bike; Papa Bear teaches him how … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Overheard, Volunteering | 7 Comments

It’s fun to wander through the alphabet with you

One of the blogs I follow is Frances Wilson’s The Cross-Eyed Pianist. She’s a London-based pianist, piano teacher, writer, music reviewer, and blogger. Back in November, I contributed to the “Pianist’s Alphabet” series on her blog. My guest post is … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Music and emotion, Volunteering | Tagged | 1 Comment


As winter turns to spring, I hope we’re nearing the end of coughing season. I attend a lot of classical concerts, most often performances by the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and by faculty and students in the College of Music at … Continue reading

Posted in Audiences | Tagged | 6 Comments

A dear old land of leprechauns and wondrous wishing wells

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I recently met a new resident of a senior facility who was, until a few months ago, a volunteer pianist like me. We chatted a bit and soon discovered we’ve played at … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Audiences, Music and emotion, Music history, Volunteering | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Like the beat, beat, beat of the tom-tom

I remember a skit on the old Carol Burnett variety show in which she sang “Don’t You Hate It When They Turn the House Lights Up.” Of course, she was famous for just that: “bumping up” the lights in order … Continue reading

Posted in Audiences, Music and emotion, Volunteering | 6 Comments