Posts Tagged 'gift of music'

Sounds of the Season

Holiday MusicLast week I had the pleasure of singing with the Women of Heartsong choir for a group of elderly residents at a retirement home here in town. We meet on Monday evenings and one Monday each month is devoted to bringing music to retirement homes and assisted living facilities. This most recent performance for the residents at Buckner Villas was a very special experience.
The choir’s repertoire is varied. We sing everything from James Taylor and The Beatles to classics like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” For this performance we also sang some holiday songs in our set. When it was time to sing the holiday songs we walked out into the audience and I sat down beside a sweet woman who reached over and held my hand as we sang “Winter Wonderland”, “Joy to the World”, and “Silent Night.” When we would get to an especially full or resonant chord in the songs, she would squeeze my hand tighter, feeling the power in the familiar music. Before I left, I asked her what her favorite song was from the evening’s performance and she told me, with tears in her eyes, “Oh, honey, I liked them all…but that ‘Silent Night’ was really something.”
The Winter Holidays are full of emotion. Rarely do we experience during such a small time frame, the roller coaster ride of excitement (presents!), frustration (parking at the mall), joy (families gathering together), stress (again…families gathering together), and the bitter-sweet nostalgia of days gone by as we do at this point in the year.
During this especially busy time, don’t forget to set aside little moments to make some musical memories with your child! Try singing a well known tune like “Jingle Bells” with words that you create yourself, that fit an event such as going to dinner:
“Time to go, time to go, time to put on shoes!
Let’s get out the door so we can eat some yummy food!”
Or how about having some fun with a kitchen play-along? Get out those pots and pans, Tupperware containers, and wooden spoons and turn up the music! You may find that a kitchen floor jam session was just what you needed to unwind from a crazy trip to the grocery store.
Remember that you are the most important musical role model in your child’s life. When you sing with your child, you’re giving her a very important gift that only you can give-the foundation for a lifetime of music making and appreciation! Whatever you do, have a safe and happy holiday enjoying the sounds of the season!
Sally Nava
Music Together Teacher


Generations Coming Together Through Music

Buckner Villas InstrumentA wise friend recently said to me while walking around Lady Bird Lake, “Music is the reverberation of life.”  According to the Collins Thesaurus of the English Language, some synonyms of “reverberation” include:  “echo, ringing, resonance, resounding, vibration, reechoing (the echo of an echo).”  The word that intrigued me the most was “reechoing” because it implies a circle of life that continues to affect us no matter what stage of life we are in. In terms of music, it has the power to affect us daily, resounding and echoing through our core to positively affect our lives.

I witness this phenomenon every Thursday morning at my Intergenerational Music Together class at Buckner Villas.  I see it in my friend Roland who, a few weeks ago, asked permission to bring his string bass to class and play with us. He encouraged the children to strum the strings so they could experience how differently bass strings feel compared to my guitar strings.  Roland told me a story of his grandson who, when four years old, wanted to strum the strings just like his grandfather, but the boy’s mother was afraid for him to do that for fear he might hurt the strings if he pulled on them or strummed too hard.  Grandpa Roland of course wanted him to play the bass strings and remembers thinking, “One never knows how we affect children’s lives because we never really know what is going on in their heads!”  This same grandson just completed his degree in music at Baylor!  Roland and his wife, Elizabeth, have five children and they are all musical.  One of their sons is the music administrator for the Alamo Heights School District in San Antonio.  Their daughter majored in voice and taught music in the public schools for many years. Every Christmas, they get together with all of their instruments and put on a musical variety show.  Their love of music is reverberating through the generations of their family and I am certain their grandchildren will continue to pass on this love of music.

I see this process of reechoing in my friend Phyllis who knows the name of every child who comes to our Intergenerational class and wants to hug and hold each one of them every week.  She jumps right in and leads a rhythm pattern whenever asked. She feels so strongly about the Music Together program that she wrote an article for the Buckner Villas newspaper, encouraging her fellow residents to attend so they too can experience the joys of music that she feels with the children.

Buckner Villas Class SingI see it in Marge who belongs to five choirs, loves to sing with us, especially when we do part singing, and who occasionally will dance along, too. I see it in ninety “something” year old Lillian, who arrives every Thursday with her ornately decorated walker (right now with autumn leaves to celebrate the season), and in Joyce, who loves to sing along, share songs of her past, and shout out her favorite animal when I ask for suggestions. This shared joy resounds in Inga, a beautiful Swedish woman who fights her instincts to want the children to remain in the circle because that was the way she was raised, yet she totally understands when I explain to her that some children need to move around to be able to learn in their own way.  All of the residents cherish the ritual at the end of class when the children come around to shake their hands.

There is Janet, the effervescent activity director, who always attends class whenever possible, simply because she loves to witness the children and their ability to constantly learn and change.  Janet is forever thinking up new ways to give something to the children, and is already playing with an idea for Christmas.  And Kenneth, another employee of Buckner Villas, occasionally pops by to take pictures at the beginning of class and then scurries away to print them in time to give to the young moms so they have their mementos when they leave.

Buckner Villas Class 2I would be remiss not to mention the wonderful parents of these beautiful children, too.  These devoted moms and dads try to get to class early so that they can visit with the residents and they always hang around afterwards to check in with each other, creating a strong support group.  They delight in watching all the children grow and encourage them in small ways.  One of the moms shared with me that her family has a drum set in their living room so that their son can understand how important music is to their family. They believe that the drums shouldn’t be hidden away in his bedroom for only his enjoyment!  That is true love!

If you have never visited an Intergenerational class, please come see us at Buckner Villas or join us at one of our other Intergenerational classes in Austin.  We will be offering free demos in December and you can sign up online at or call (512) 371-9506. Bring a friend, too! Our 9-week Winter Session starts January 6th and goes through March 8th, 2014.

Buckner Villas GroupThe sounds of music are definitely reverberating at Buckner Villas.  It is a beautiful experience of generations coming together to sing and love one another.

Edie Elkjer
Music Together Teacher

The Joy of Family Music

Heartsong Music teaches Music Together®, the internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through grade two and the adults who love them.

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