Sunday, November 23, 2008

Music Therapy

A few months ago Mark had a few sessions with a music therapist. His response was quite remarkable. We always knew that Marky had some music in him. When he was just 3, he was making special sounds with an electronic keyboard. When he came to church with us he would often make vocal noises during and even after a hymn was being sung. However, when his health declined over the past couple of years he has had less opportunity to practice or even experience music. We are not a very musical family. Erin probably leads in that department but the rest of us are just not that way.

In the spring when Mark started spending his days in bed, we went out and bought him a TV with a built in DVD. It's mounted over his bed. It's not hooked up to cable so it only functions as a DVD player. Mark watches movies and listens to music CD's. It's fun to watch and listen with him, he's very responsive.

Then, on one of his very low days, I watched as the music therapist got a living response from an almost lifeless little boy. It was something I will never forget. It planted a seed deep within me, or perhaps it watered a seed deep within me. I went out and purchased a tongue drum for $25. If you've ever purchased any musical instrument you will know that $25 doesn't buy very much. This drum was no exception, it was kinda junky. I brought it home and played it for Mark, he smiled.

I invited friends to come and play for Marky. Some have and each time has been special. We have a friend who lives in Vancouver and is a music therapist. She was in Toronto and made time to sit by Marky's bed and share a little music.

The disappointment in the tongue drum drove me to search for something else I could play in Marky's room. My search went on-line where I found all kinds of weird and wonderful things. There were home made instruments from plastic tube but they looked like they'd occupy half of his room. I searched some more, and then I discovered the native american style flute. What a sweet and healing sound. I decided to buy one.

It was just around Mark's birthday so I justified the silly purchase that way. I went to the website and dialed up the flute. Then something happened, I noticed that Erik the Flute Maker also makes a Bamboo Sax. I pressed the little button for the sound sample. BAM! SOLD! I bought them both.

When our music therapist friend came to play we had to borrow a guitar for her. After she left the guitar sat around the house for a few days. On a couple of occasions Lynn picked it up and play with it for Mark. Notice I said, "played with it". Mark smiled.

Enter Keith Hamm into the musicification of the Rumsby's. Keith is boarding with us as he studies at the Glen Gould School of Music. Keith is one of those anoyingly gifted musical types who can pick up anything and make music with it. I once saw him pick up a piece of cold pizza, take a bite, and start humming. OK that was a bad joke but the kid can make music. His only mistake is thinking everyone else can.

So Keith sees Lynn foolin with this borrowed guitar and says, "Oh Lynn, I didn't know you played". Lynn laughs and says, "I don't". Then Keith says, "Well you should. If you want to work with kids in South Africa, you should play a guitar".

The next thing I know I'm standing in Long & McQuade buying a guitar with my daughter Lynn.
Then on the way home we stopped at the post office and picked up my bamboo instruments. So now we have all these instruments and no idea what to do with them. Keith has promised to have Lynn playing a song before Christmas. I promise to try to make my flutes make something other than a duck call, when I'm not sure.

Remember, it's all about Mark. Mark doesn't care how good it is, he only cares about how free it is (and I don't mean cheap).

Thanks to Fayona, and Matt, and Dan, Anne, and Strawberry, and Brian P, and Brian B, and Denis, and Michael, and Erin M, and Red Rain, and the Sanctuary Worship Gang, and of course Keith the Hamm, or the musicification of Marky's room and hopefully his family.

Honk bleeep erp!

1 comment:

Renita Hamm said...

Hi Wayne.
How wonderful that Keith introduced us to your blog. Your articulate, beautiful writing gives us a peek into the window of Keith's new home. Seems like it's a lovely home where love and laughter, and now music, take up a lot of space. Thanks for the courage of opening your home to Keith, at a time when Marky was doing quite poorly, and allowing Keith to walk this journey with you. It seemed like your family anticipated this fall to include walking through a "vale of tears". And now your boy is doing well. I was thrilled to read of big smiles and laughter and days at school. Know that you have been in our personal prayers and the collective prayers of the community of Rosebud.

I just finished Greg Paul's "God in the Alley" last night and was moved by the continued choice of the Sanctuary community to find beauty in brokenness. And was significantly challenged. Paradigm shift! God bless you in your work there, Wayne and Linda.