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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

A Hard Day's Day

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar)

After picking up the Spitz Spanish guitar from the office, I set about my business, walking the corridors and peeking into rooms for folk potentially hungry for music. I came across ML in the dining room looking very tired. Across the room towards the window sat a fairly young, new resident struggling to find peace in her new environment. Understandably she appeared confused and angry in an unfamiliar space, this was in turn unsettling for ML who was struggling to understand the commotion. I tried to find music to accommodate the tense atmosphere in the room but on this occasion it wasn't to be.

Downstairs I was pleased to find DW sat in the visitor's room by the garden, he seemed happy to be in a space full of light and fresh air. I asked him whether he'd like to go through the door and into the garden where he could enjoy the sun and breeze, so we did.

I showed him videos and photos of my recent trip to a Flamenco festival in Andalusia, interspersed with my attempts at playing the various styles for him. We talked about the rich cultural history of that area, from Moorish architecture to the influence of West African rhythms and Rajasthani scales in Flamenco music. 'It's like a breath of fresh air to talk to you'. For a man who loves feeling connected to people and the world, these sessions of music and conversation with our musicians are of huge importance to those who can feel isolated. I would have loved to carry on chatting and strumming with DW for hours but I had more people to see and therefore helped him back into the visitor's room where we found K and her sister.

I set up a table for DW so that he could look through his photo album and started to play for K. As I played a Brazilian piece by Baden-Powell, K sat down, much to the delight of her sister who looked ready for a rest. K seemed to drift off into a dream and her sister allowed herself some time to relax and talk with me and DW. I asked the room for a request (I like the challenge of trying to work out chords on the hoof). "Hard day's night please.....although it feels more like a hard day's day'. As we played and sang K seemed to wake from her sleep and recognise the song, it was triggering some kind of memory, maybe from their childhood together.

I wanted to see Ms JC, she's always so appreciative of our visits and also rarely leaves her room. She never fails to offer a warm and polite welcome when I knock at her door, offering cups of tea and the best seat in the room. I've lately been encouraging JC to sing with me each time I visit, she's usually quick to warn me that her voice would definitely ruin any music on offer which I usually counter with something like 'that's nonsense, we're in this together and I need your support' (that usually does the trick, and I mean it). I played a beautiful jazz standard that she'd not heard before called 'Like Someone in Love' which she seemed to enjoy. Then we moved on to a song that I knew she was familiar with; 'Body and Soul' which she sang with me beautifully. I was impressed by her ability to follow me as I improvised around the chord sequence, she always managed to sing 'body and soul' at the correct cadence in what is quite a complicated song. I suppose her generation were familiar with these relatively complex classics from the Great American Song Book as they would have been the popular songs of the time. In one lifetime pop music has changed so much!

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