Songs, Connections & Nanny Gross

by Bev Foster

Music played an enormous role in my connection with Nanny Gross, my grandma.  As a child, she would come and straighten my shoulders as I practiced the piano. When I was a music student, she would come to my recitals – she was interested in what I was studying and learning.  Music was a natural part of our relationship, something that joined us together.  In later years when I went to see her at the nursing home, I’d often wheel her to the piano and play some tunes.  During the last five years of her life, Nanny suffered from dementia and music was the means by which we connected.  I expressed how I felt about our relationship in a song written about 5 years ago before she died. The song is  Pictures in my Heart.

A song has the capacity to connect people, whether it’s two people or two thousand and two. It may be a shared event where a connection is made, like a wedding or concert or dance.  It may be a shared feeling where we resonate around an emotion like joy or grief or love.  It may be a shared idea where the music becomes symbolic like the hook of an advertising jingle or a protest.  I remember how one song made me feel connected to millions of other people around the world.  As Sir Elton John sang Candle in the Wind, his words encapsulated a world mourning the life of Diana Princess of Wales.  Perhaps it was the connection to human suffering and tragedy, but that song brought us together in our common journey and expressed our common grief. One of my favorite quotes is by music therapist Dr. Kenneth Bruscia.  He writes:  Songs are our connections to life.  They connect us to our inner world; they bring us closer to others; they keep us company when we are alone.  They articulate our beliefs and reaffirm our values.  They arouse, they accompany and they release.  And as the years pass, our songs bear witness to our lives and give voice to our experiences.  They rekindle the past, reflect the present, and project the future.  Songs weave tales of our joys and sorrows; they express our dreams and disappointments, our fears and triumphs.  They are our musical diaries, our life stories.  They are the sounds of our development.   I wonder, what connections have you made with songs?  Bev