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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

“Music makes me happy, it's like I'm in heaven'

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar & vocals)

My previous week's session at Bridgeside Lodge (with pianist Pete Lee) had started with a moving interaction with resident LG in the entrance corridor. We'd played a few songs including 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' which had clearly resonated with her and subsequently ignited a short but rare conversation. I decided to visit her again today and to try to find some repertoire that might be equally engaging. I began with 'A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square' which shares harmonic and emotive qualities with 'Over The Rainbow'. Fairly soon after starting, LG turned to me and said "oh go away!" Impressed by her honesty and respecting her agency, I took my leave with carer Leyla confirming to me that she hadn't been having a good day.

As I wandered around the corridors with an aim to provide music for less regular listeners, I heard some distant singing reverberating off the walls. I peered my head into DF's room and found her sitting by the window with a teddy bear on her lap humming an unfamiliar melody. I asked whether I could accompany her to which she smiled and said yes. I picked out some complementary chords to go along with the mystery tune and we sat there for a few minutes making music as she gazed out of the window onto a dreary London sky. It seemed appropriate to then offer up 'Here Comes The Sun' as a tonic to the grey fest outside. DF sang along quietly maintaining a grin throughout and thanked me as I left for the next visit.

I spent a good long time with JC today, weaving in his unique anti-government sentiment and wild-west imagery into strange and wonderful genre-bending musical explorations. These jams seem to provide JG with a safe space in which he can really let loose and explore his vibrant imagination which we celebrate together. I asked him:

NK: 'How does music make you feel?'

JC: 'Great....I get away from the misery of the world'

We finished up by playing 'Good Golly Miss Molly' and rocked out together before I switched Bargain Hunt back on his tv and continued on my way.

Next I visited AS who had remembered that I'd recently been on holiday to Andalusia in the south of Spain (her country of birth). She was uplifted by my tales of calamari, warm sands and endless blue skies. I had to break it to her that I hadn't fulfilled my promise to master flamenco guitar in the two weeks I'd been gone, she noted my excuses and gracefully accepted my offer to play music more familiar to me. As I played, she clicked the button on her bed which brought her body upright and began to clap along enthusiastically exclaiming 'ole!!'...'benga!!”. One thing I love about the way Spanish people (in particular southern people) engage with music is the plentiful vocal encouragement, it's a communal effort in which the audience appear to have an important role in lifting the musicians and visibly rejoicing in the climactic moments. It made me smile to see AS making the commitment to join in with me as I played for her. After finishing I asked her the same question that I'd asked JC earlier, she replied;

“Music makes me very happy, I forget everything and it's like I'm in heaven'

This sentiment in turn brought me a large dose of happiness to finish my day on.

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