Author Archives: volunteerpianist

I’d do anything for you, dear

I’ve blogged here and here about a listener I called Walt. But I haven’t yet told you the most amazing thing about him. It’s not that he started taking singing lessons around age 90, and then gave monthly performances at … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Dementia, Volunteering | 4 Comments

I can’t get started with you

“You’re not gonna play that thing are you?” asked an assisted-living resident as I set up my keyboard near her lunch table. I admitted I was planning to do exactly that. She went on to say that she had spent … Continue reading

Posted in Audiences, Music and emotion, Piano performance, Volunteering | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Johnny one note

Last week, on a rainy Tuesday, my lovely Steinway grand received its annual tuning. If you’ve heard a piano being tuned, you know it’s not particularly pleasant. The tuner repeatedly strikes a single note while using a lever to turn … Continue reading

Posted in Pianos, Volunteering | Tagged | 5 Comments

Snookey, ookey baby talk

Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals. Luckily, I haven’t been the patient. During this hospital time, I’ve observed an annoying use of the word “okay.” Here’s an example: A nurse comes … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Volunteering | Tagged | 3 Comments

Hero in your own hometown

“Caregiver! Caregiver!” Mary Lou called weakly, hoping to get the attention of an aide serving lunch across the room. No luck. I was nearby, playing background music to accompany the meal. I don’t know Mary Lou’s health story, but she … Continue reading

Posted in Audiences, Piano performance, Volunteering | Tagged | 3 Comments

School days, school days, good old golden rule days

I’ve written about the magic of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” for my elderly listeners. I love the wave of soft singing that makes its way across the room and reaches me at the piano every time I play … Continue reading

Posted in Audiences, Music and emotion, Reminiscences, Volunteering | 2 Comments

Light up the sky like a flame–fame!

Have you ever played that party game where everyone tells the story of their biggest brush with celebrity? My celebrity sighting is pretty lame. I saw Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s fawning sidekick, at an ocean-front Los Angeles restaurant in the … Continue reading

Posted in Music history, Reminiscences | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Comes a toothache, see the dentist right away

Can you remember the name of your childhood dentist? Most people can. Mine was Dr. Bigsby. My husband’s was Dr. Mastromatteo (dubbed “Dr. Mashed Potatoes” by a younger sibling). I have a friend who grew up in Milwaukee and went … Continue reading

Posted in Piano performance, Reminiscences | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Who will buy?

You’ve probably never heard of composer Richard Trentlage, but every kid—at least in Wisconsin—knows his most famous song: Back in 1962, Trentlage came up with his “Oscar Mayer Wiener Song” when the company (based in Madison, Wisconsin until a few … Continue reading

Posted in Music and emotion, Music history, Songwriters | Tagged | 4 Comments

Love’s old sweet song

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to find Owen. He steadied himself with his walker and grinned. “Bet you didn’t expect to see me here, did ya?” Until a few weeks ago, Owen lived in an independent … Continue reading

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