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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

Her smile errupted

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar)

Upon entering Bridgeside Lodge with my guitar, I was approached by a lady who asked if I was there with the Spitz. She expressed how grateful she was for what we provide to her husband (DB) and for the other residents. Whilst I was taking the lateral flow test we got talking some more as she waited for D, she described how his Huntington's Disease has resulted in a shyness and anxiety around people. She also told me of his life as a manager in social care and as a gardener who loved music. I found this very interesting as I'd often been aware of D gravitating towards us when we play music but (in my mind) he had never wanted to engage much. I asked if she would like me to play for them both during their visit and perhaps whether given his shyness he'd be comfortable with me entering his room to play sometimes, or perhaps to stand by the door. I played for them both and witnessed a closeness and a level of communication and comprehension with his wife that was beautiful. Towards the end of their meeting D's wife asked him if he would be happy with musicians entering his room, it was communicated that he preferred to listen in communal spaces.

Next I saw J who I'd not visited for a while, it was lovely to see that smile erupt as I began to play for her. I played some Bob Marley and then a tune I'd written when I was 17 about a peaceful hill on Cranborne Chase in Dorset to which she either fell asleep or closed her eyes in appreciation, both are definitely acceptable reactions in my eyes.

In the kitchen area I played for Resident I, who seemed very happy that I had sat with him for a while and played. We struggled as he tried to tell me something which frustratingly I couldn't work out. I asked him if he'd like a Turkish song but promised that Alice could sing one as I know she has one in her extensive bag of repertoire.

On the 1st floor I saw S who was sat in the kitchen with JS. She was very appreciative as normal, thanking me with a voice full of conviction and power. JS, in usual fashion came to life as soon as he began to tap on the table with a youthful excitement in his eyes, his rhythmic interplay and empathy impressing me as always. S clapped along but then got distracted, perhaps the lack of Elvis songs did it...I did however receive a marriage proposal so...

Next I saw R who was very chatty for the first time, he was asking me questions and mentioning how he'd always wanted to learn an instrument, we talked about how he used to enjoy living in his small flat in Buenos Aires whilst I played some instrumental jazz.

I moved to the top floor where I'd been asked to visit a resident receiving end-of-life care (resident R). I felt humbled to be welcomed into the room by his family at such a poignant moment for them and asked about the types of songs he likes to listen to. His granddaughter mentioned Reggae and they reminisced about R and his wife dancing around their living room. As I played, R who seemed to slip in and out of consciousness woke for a moment, smiled and gave his granddaughter a big smile and a kiss on her cheek.

Next I visited JC for our composition session, I mentioned that we needed a new tune for our album that we're writing bit by bit. It's so much fun for the both of us. I enjoyed waiting for J's imagination engine to start chugging as verse after verse flowed from him, the usual themes of runaway rogues, bank robberies, hostages and fast trains cropped up and I think this week we penned another hit!

To finish the day I visited EJ as I had been intending to teach her a beautiful medieval song that my mother used to perform. The song is called 'Ah Robin' by composer William Cornysh and is written for 4 thinking is that perhaps we could sing all 4 parts with EJ at the next garden party. She picked up and held the melody perfectly considering all of the distractions going on around us. I look forward to rehearsing with her next week.

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