Since October, I have been playing shakuhachi three times at the Bosweg. I must confess I was a bit nervous the first time after October: would it be so hectic again? But actually, during these three sessions in February, March and May, the patients were very quiet. February was particularly nice, because the nurses were also very enthusiastic. Which was not entirely the case when I went again this week. What happened?
I don’t know.
Everything went perfect for me. In Bosweg B, I had the feeling I didn’t manage to make contact with the patients. L. was wandering around, in her own world ; C. was busy trying to grab some magazines that fell down under the table ; one man walked it but didn’t stay very long ; a woman rolled her wheelchair in and out and in and out ; the other man’s wife was busy checking a few things before leaving, walking in and out the room, and he was trying to follow her movements, I’m not sure he even noticed I was playing. Wait, was that “perfect”? Or would have they acted the same way anyway, with me playing or not? I’m not sure. The only thing I’m sure of is that I tried my best and played for them from the bottom of my heart. And three of the five people stayed quietly in the room all along the 20-25 minutes I played, and in their way, they were there, in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility I brought to them.
In March, C. had such a big smile on her face when I was playing, clearly enjoying the music. The nurse was stimulating her, helping her to focus her attention, emphasising the fact I came to play music especially for them. This time, the nurse was typing on her computer, trying to keep L. away from touching it. So, maybe, it was just that I was happy to see L. and C. again, to see they were still alive, and that was enough for me to call it perfect.
In Bosweg C, on the contrary, the contact was established immediately. F. came to me and introduced herself. She asked my name in return, and then introduced the rest of the assistance. After one tune, she asked if she could go to sit on the terrace. Then came back later, asked my name again, and said she learned ballet during 12 years. And demonstrated it, twice. She got applauds from us. I found very touching to see her trying to remember the dance movements while I was playing.
The other patients didn’t say much, but were carefully listening. I got warm applauds after each tune, whether it was a honkyoku, folks tune or children song. I played again around 20-25 minutes. When I left, they thanked me. Wasn’t this perfect too?
When I was finished, I looked around to find the staff. Unusually, I was left alone with the patients. When I found the nurses, they were looking grumpy and started to complain about the organisation of the activity. Not about my performance (they did hear the applauds they said), but about the fact they had to gather the patients (2 actually, the 3 others were already sitting there) to go to listen to music, that the patients would walk around and disturb me, this kind of stuff. Actually, no, I said, it was fine, they were not disturbing at all, they seemed to enjoy the music a lot, and that’s enough for me. They looked very surprised when I added that I didn’t expect anything from the patients and was happy anyway to play for them. In February, one patient wanted me to walk around with him when I was playing, and I found pleasant to do it, I adjusted the tempo of the music on our steps, it was fun to do and it seemed meaningful for him. Most of the times, I find the walking around of the staff much more disturbing. Some staff members make no difference between live playing and television on.
In February and March, it went pretty well too. One woman was very enthusiastic and asked the nurse to take a picture of us. The nurse took a few more pictures later with the other patients, and sent them to me. Unfortunately, this nurse wasn’t on duty last Tuesday.
I always say in my other posts about my visits with A. that it works so great thanks to her and our team work. Last Tuesday, I experienced the contrary. I hope it was just temporary and that I will be allowed to come again. I hope it for the patients, and for me.