Experience at “Kirkhaven”

Just a quick post…

Yesterday I went over to Kirkhaven in Rochester, NY with 2 other student Music Therapists (Caitlin and Brian :)). Caitlin had her clinic placement there last semester, and wanted to do some community work there this semester. It is a “transitional and long-term care” facility for seniors with several floors including a dementia floor.  We were on the second floor yesterday. Unfortunately it got delayed until now, and it was also unfortunate that only the 3 of us were able to go.  It was a GREAT experience! We basically served more as entertainment during their “happy hour” complete with kahula and milk and lays potato chips (which we were graciously given a bag of by a member of the community:)) There is a music therapist on site, although i’m not sure about all the details (perhaps Caitlin will give us a run down post sometime).  The seniors just really enjoy music.  It’s hard to tell because the “audience response” that musicians are used to judging human enjoyment from is very different.  Light claps, and distant solo voices singing along to popular tunes such as “Let me call you sweetheart,” began assuring us that they were enjoying themselves.  Although we were not as rehearsed and prepared as we would have like, we came equipped with a guitar,my personal percussion accessory collection, and a keyboard that was set up for us.  When the three of us discussed afterward what worked and what didn’t we came up with these points:

  • The elderly population loves familiar repertoire (Oh when the saints, I’ve been working on the railroad, You are my sunshine)
  • It’s okay to break the barrier between you and them (in a non-therapy situation).  Once we warmed up and handed out instruments, the whole air in the room lifted and we were all having more fun!
  • Even if they’re not hooting and hollering, they really are enjoying themselves
  • Music evokes VERY strong memories and responses for them

During a short “meet and greet” afterward the sweet reactions, and “thank-yous” were more than enough to gurarantee our appearence there again.  An older couple confessed how much they enjoy listen to music and how very strong memories come back when they listen to it.  Another lady sang sweetly along with us as we sang her “Danny Boy” a capella as per her request.  As we left the room, another lady brought out her harmonica and began playing (by memory) some of the songs we had just performed.

It was truly a wonderful experience.  I haven’t had an opportunity to work directly with this population, however, our time there really touched me.  I hope to see the folks from Kirkhaven over the summer again.



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Filed under Music Therapy, Student Life

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