Today I had the privilege of doing an interactive performance for Millard’s Good Samaritan Society, a really nice nursing home in the Omaha area. The staff there is attentive and a joy to be around, but the real pleasure for me is the interaction with the residents.
When they started arriving in the performance space, many were in wheel chairs, heads drooping, and somewhat disinterested. For many people, visiting an environment like that can be disconcerting. Perhaps we connect with our own mortality in a visceral way, or we are at a loss about how to best engage. But I had done this type of work many times before, and I knew what was in store. I never know exactly when or how, but I always am excited to see it. What is ‘it’? Well, I’m getting ahead of myself; so let me back up a bit.
I performed with the instruments from around the world, including the hang – always a favorite. Many times people say they feel like they are transported to another place when listening to my melodies. I was not disappointed to see appreciative smiles and applause as I performed.
I then moved into the interactive portion of the performance. For this group, I taught them a simple rhythm with stops that allowed for solo drumming. It was during this time that I saw ‘it’…the bright shining eyes, ear- to-ear smiles, and the surprise and amazement that one can be successful in trying something new. The ‘it’ is the one to one engagement, for me a spiritual connection, between myself and the audience musician with their new found talent. I feel humbled and excited to connect with them in this very personal and enjoyable way.
Not surprising to me, they were so engaged, they could have continued on much longer than time allowed. Who knows, perhaps a few of them will gather tomorrow, find something to make rhythm with, and find a soulful release in drumming. Anyway, that’s my wish for them.