Response Art

AL is a lady with advanced dementia. At the time of writing we have had about 4 sessions together. In this particular one, she had come in with her body tightly contorted. Her hands were clasped to her chest, and her knee was almost reaching her stomach. It did not look comfortable.
Having had several sessions with her, I knew that she liked to listen to softer, soothing music, but did not want to sing. She also did not have particular songs she liked, and seemed ok with improvised melodies over structured chords. We started. I used a motif from a well known song and improvised around that, humming, using vowels, extending and playing around with phrases. A minute or two in, I asked if this was ok. She nodded. She showed she was listening by moving her head and lips to the music, though without verbalising any sound. After about 10 minutes, her leg started to lower itself. Her body looked more relaxed. We continued.

And then –

I heard her!

She was beginning to sing the lines from the song we were improvising around. Her words were clear – it was the exact lyrics. I was stunned, and continued playing the accompaniment while she sang the same lines several times.

And just as suddenly as she had started, she stopped. And went back to closing her eyes, listening.

We continued – and I was happy to note that her overall body posture had become more relaxed by the end. She was no longer tensing her muscles and tightly holding her hands to her chest.

That few seconds of her singing, actively engaging in the music, kept rippling in my mind for days after that. I felt that I had to express it in some form, and hence did an art representation of it.

Sometimes I feel that I just live for moments of connection like these.


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