-Stacey Murphy, Development Mgr., MWH - January 2016
No story is quite as powerful as a firsthand experience. I have been working with Musicians For World Harmony for several months now, learning about how the music and engagement brings seniors out of their inner worlds, stimulating memory and community. I’ve heard stories. I’ve seen video clips. But seeing the work in person at Ellis Hollow Road Apartments on December 18th was really something beautiful.
Samite Mulondo, the founding director of MWH, led a group of about 20 seniors, in all (and a couple non seniors including a grandbaby) in the program. There was singing, dancing, instrument playing by the residents as they joined into Samite’s songs and then led their own. One woman led “Silent Night” and was moved to sing it in French. In spite of her bad knees, another older woman got up and danced – twice - in a way that my middle aged body hardly remembers . The party continued after the program was over. One man said it reminded him of Bob Dylan, and sang a little of “Forever Young” then wound up in conversation with another resident of which CD’s of Dylan's they each have.
I asked the woman who sang in French if she was born there. It turns out she wasn’t, but she spent the next 20 minutes recalling her life as a teen and then a young woman at Nazareth College who got to spend a year abroad as part of her French major. She sang more songs for me and lapsed into French from time to time as she told me finely detailed memories of that vibrant, important time in her life.
Later, on her evaluation form, she shared that before the program she had felt tired, and had bad news from her doctor that morning, and her throat was dry. After the program she said she felt “much better”. These sorts of impressions are common throughout the other feedback forms we collected that day, including the statement in this story's title.
Short and simple – Music Heals. I’m thrilled to be a part of the work of this great organization and can’t wait for our next program in January.