Saturday, September 6, 2008

Beautiful voices

One of the things I didn't know I missed when I was away from work for the summer was the collection of little and big sounds that go along with my music therapy groups.  When I hush and listen (and sometimes I have to give myself a mental nudge to remind myself to do so) I can hear the voices and sounds made by the people who don't use speech to communicate.  

On Thursday afternoon, we had quite a crew gathered (I honestly don't know how so many people keep ending up in our group).  There were at least ten men, and we were all sitting (or standing) in a sort of long circle in various forms of chairs.  Everyone who wanted to use an instrument (well, all three guys) had their preferred objects to sound, and even though we looked (more or less) prepared for action, we couldn't seem to get any kind of a musical improvisation going.  

To be truthful, there was some unrest.  T, who was sitting next to me, was a bit agitated, and he was up and down a bit- biting at his hand and then taking my hand and pumping my arm up and down a few times.  The recreation person came in and asked if he could borrow one of the guys, so they left together.  B wanted to sit in the windowsill- which, on principle, I'm not against, but his staff have asked that I not let him do that, because he tends to urinate all over the windowsill area, and, well, you get the picture- so I usually ask him to not sit there.  P, who usually wants to be in the session before anyone else and stays longer than almost anyone else, decided to return the tambourine he likes to use and left the room entirely.  

I think it was in between dramas that I finally quieted down, uncertain as to how I should proceed, and that was when I noticed the sounds:  R's quiet, breathy "hah, hah, hah" (accompanied, as always, by his quick forward rocking motion), B's- also quiet- melodic humming (he usually uses a very small range, and it's often in a minor key), and S's consistent, somewhat higher pitched, "ee-mmm-aaahh-mmm-eee-aaah", punctuating his sounds with gentle clapping sounds placed at various intervals.  K had the seed pod rattle, and, as always, he held it tightly in one hand, making it difficult for the seed pods to actually rattle, and he used his other hand to tap at it very softly.   

I listened with such pleasure, suddenly aware of how much I'd missed these sounds and these moments.  I tuned my low and high E strings down to D (the sounds felt very open and D-ish to me), and I joined in with my quiet sounds too.  The energy in the room shifted, and we were all able to settle down and play together.   

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