Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From good to great

Grace Notes has been doing amazing great work in the five months since the first rehearsal in January.  We have sung to over 100 songs to 50 patients.  If we included all the folks who were present and listening, i.e., family, friends, and nursing staff, the number easily triples because we found ourselves singing in a common areas from time to time.  Woohoo!  Read some of our stories here and here

Monday, May 30, 2011

Creative Aging Around Town (more details)

Minnesota Creative Arts & Aging Network (http://www.mncaan.net/)
CREATIVE AGING AROUND TOWN

TOPIC THIS MONTH: Using Art for the Good of the Community

WEDNESDAY, June 1
1:00-3:00 P.M.

Winnetka Learning Center
7940 55th Ave. No., Room 117-118
New Hope, MN

FEATURED PRESENTERS:
Loren on Park Writers Group creates community understanding and dialogue about racism.
Grace Notes hospice choir serenades people who are emotionally and physically fragile at the end of life.
Story Theater community education volunteers bring readers theater into the schools.

Free. No need to pre-register. Just come.

Please invite anyone with an interest in unleashing the artistic creativity in people 55+.

(repost of MnCAAN.net email)

Upcoming demonstrations & presentations

Grace Notes is honored to present its work with a few organizations this June 2011.  You are welcome to come and listen to our songs and story at the following:
  • MnCAAN's Creative Aging Around Town Event
    Date/Time:  Wed, Jun 1, 1-3 p.m. 
    Location:  Winnetka Learning Center, 7940 55th Ave. No., Room 117-118, New Hope, MN (map)
  • Capital City Grief Coalition MeetingDate/Time: Thu, Jun 16, 5:30-6 p.m.
    Location:  St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church, 100 North Oxford St., St. Paul, MN (map)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For HK and all baseball lovers: Take me out ... to that field of dreams

For Harmon and all other baseball lovers on hospice services:
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowds.
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack.
I don't care if we ever get back
Cuz it's root, root, root for the home team
If they don't win it's a shame
And it's one, Two, THREE strikes, you're Out!
At the old ball game! 
Grace Notes sang this song for a gentleman last week because he was clearly a Twins fan.  Twins blanket on his lap.  Twins cap on his head.  The social worker guiding our singing rounds wasn't sure if he'd want singing visitors, but he was out in the hall investigating the racket we were making around the corner when we found him.  How could we not sing "Take me out to the ballgame?"  He and his other resident buddies were tickled pink by our antics.  The nursing staff seemed to enjoy themselves too.

While hospice services are a sign that the end is near, it doesn't mean that all is drear.  Everyone starts to grieve for the future that won't be coming, but that doesn't mean you can't continue to live life to the fullest and check lines off the bucket list.  Those dreams can happen ... they just need a little modification.  This gentleman wasn't able to get to the field as often as he might have once upon a time.  Using our imagination we were able to bring a bit of it to him.  How might you fulfill some dreams for someone? 

See you on that field of dreams ...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grace Notes Update, 5/13

Thank you for visiting the Points of Light Music (PoLiMu) blog!  Here's a quick update on Grace Notes, a hospice choir partnership between PoLiMu and Asera Care Hospice.  Sit back for a moment and enjoy!

We have been blessed with so many meaningful moments – from smiles of engaged enjoyment to sweet snores of sleep. This is music to our ears … just like it is to parents of a fussy baby. Here’s some stories:
  • We sang “Ya Jamil,” a gentle Sankrit round about the beauty of God, to a woman who was a voice major in her younger days. When we ended, we realized she was humming with us … and so we sang it again so she could continue.
  • A few of our recipients have since passed through the veil since we started our singing visits in February 2011. It is not often than we encounter someone very close to the veil when we sing though. A few weeks ago we sang for a gentleman who seemed at peace, though his breathing was labored. We sang to him about journeys. Later we would find out that he completed his earthly journey about 24-hours later.
  • And then there are the stories we could tell you about other second-hand listeners! Most of the people receiving services from Asera Care reside in skilled nursing facilities. Some non-hospice residents spontaneously decide to join our band of singers on rounds to the amusement of the nursing staff. Oh, and the staff smiles we see. Some are coy and some are gratefully enlightened for the service we provide. It is like watching the sun rise change your mood!
We have 8 lovely singers committing their Monday evenings to learning songs in rehearsal and visiting these folks and I have the wonderful privilege of leading them in this project. I am especially grateful to Renee and Ruth from Asera Care for partnering with me on this adventure. Check out the attached picture of a few of us at our first sing!
This project would be difficult without the generous support from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Yes, Grace Notes is one of the benefactors of the moneys set aside through the constitutional amendment we, the people of Minnesota, voted for on November 4, 2008. We received a $5,000 Community Arts Award to cover 80% of the costs to start and implement this hospice choir. Half of the remaining 20% was donated by people like you who believe in the hospice philosophy of caring for the whole person in all their physical, social, spiritual and emotional needs until the end of their life.

How about you?

Can you financially support this project? A $25 contribution will provide a 20-minute sing for someone on hospice services and you can dedicate it in loving memory of a loved one. Because Points of Light Music and Grace Notes is a sponsored project of Springboard for the Arts, a nonprofit arts service organization, your contribution is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Contributions can be made online at http://givemn.razoo.com/story/Polimu. If you prefer writing a check, please make it out to “Springboard for the Arts” with “Points of Light Music” in the memo line and contact pointsoflightmusic@gmail.com for mailing instructions. 

Thank you so much for your interest in the work of Grace Notes.  We’d love to hear from you!  We are so honored to be doing this and feel so grateful to be in your company for this sacred work.  Come back and read about our adventures soon!

Monday, May 2, 2011

When there is light, beauty, harmony, honor ... peace

When there is light in the heart,
There is beauty in the person.

When there is beauty in the person,
There is harmony in the home.

When there is harmony in the home,
There is honor in the nation.

When there is honor in the nation,
There is peace in the world.

~ Chinese Proverb

The song melody I'm hearing in my head is of Sweet Honey in the Rock.  And you can hear a clip of it on the Amazon.com (I would share a You Tube version if I found one - sorry!).

Elizabeth Alexander has also composed an arrangement of this proverb (with minor changes to the text -- gotta love the morphing process called the aural tradition!) and it has been set to a photo montage of Obama's first 100 days (You Tube). 

Two different interpretations.  What interesting counterpoint to the original reason I was thinking of the song. 

This morning I heard about the death of Osama bin Laden and the stories in response to the news.  And I am saddened.  Partly because I am always sorrowful when people die unfortunately.  Even those that done bad things.  You can say I'm a Pro-Lifer and a Pollyanna - always seeking the best in people and in each situation.  I will not deny that I look for the healable moment - where some bit of hurt in some one's past is transformed into grace and understanding.  And that's why I'm sad.  I believe that Osama was hurt in some deep way and that propelled his actions.  Not that I condone his actions and am willing to let him off easy - I don't and am grateful I never had/have to decide how to judge him. 

More saddened because of the response in N.Y.C. and D.C.  It shows me we have a long way to go in finding caring, capable and sustainable communities.  Or perhaps I am realizing this work will be eternally ongoing because each and every life's cycle goes through a period of claiming it's self-identity where issues are black and white.  The healing transformation I seek unifies us, brings us back to wholeness.  How we are more alike than different. 

So I look to song to help me express the inexpressible.  To help me understand. 

I appreciate both arrangements of these words.  They're both lovely.  Alexander's arrangement synchronized with pictures of Obama's first days are well suited for the joyful hope of a promising journey.

In this moment, Sweet Honey's tune of this Chinese Proverb resonates with me more fully.  It's slow spiritual melancholy carries my sorrow of this incident and the hope for every person and every nation. 

May songs find you to accompany your day. 

Blessings.  C~