Music Continues to Provide Needed Therapy

Kate and I have relied heavily on music as a form of therapy. Unlike so many other things, that is something that has not yet become a thing of the past. I would have to say though that the way we have used music has changed over the years. At the beginning, we entertained ourselves by attending musical events . These included opera, musical theater, and a variety of concerts. Over time, I included more music at home and in the car. Unlike the early musical events, I chose music for its therapeutic benefits rather than just entertainment. Initially, I used music to calm Kate when she had a panic attack. Those occurred exclusively when I rushed her to get ready to go places. I would play the Second Movement of Brahms Violin Concerto and similar movements from other concertos. That seemed to relax her.

Before we stopped going to evening events, I expanded our music at home with a wider variety of music. A year and a half ago, I bought a number of DVDs of musicals that were a good way to end the day. Kate especially liked Les Miserables which she watched seven times in seven weeks. Ultimately, she tired of videos of musicals, and I have since relied on YouTube videos of concerts or portions of them for our evening time for relaxation before going to bed. Among those, I have found the Andre Rieu and the BBC PROMS concerts particularly good. Often, however, I have done a search on a particular singer. Then I let YouTube follow with whatever their algorithm selects for us. The best thing about YouTube is that they always have new videos and a wide diversity of musical genres.

The musical programs at Casa Bella stand out for the way they combine both music and a social occasion that Kate has been able to appreciate. Music is clearly the greater draw, but the fact that we have sat for years with essentially the same people has made it easier for Kate to enjoy each evening. Over the past six months or so, I have had an increasing concern that she is becoming less comfortable with the social aspects of these evenings. That is largely because we more frequently have been seated at a table with as many as six or seven other people, some of who we haven’t known. That makes it more difficult for Kate to follow and to participate in the conversation. That has made me think about requesting a table for two rather than sitting with a group. Recently, however, we have had some evenings that have given me reason to believe we may be able to continue somewhat longer at our regular table.

This past Thursday was one of those times. There were six of us, but we have sat together with one another for several years now. Of course, Kate can’t remember that, but she is comfortable when she is with them. As I suggested earlier, it is music that is the primary attraction, and last night was the best night of jazz that we’ve had. The singer and the man on the keyboard were superior to others we have heard previously. The crowd responded enthusiastically. Kate was, perhaps, the most enthusiastic, and that may be an indicator of an ultimate problem.

She has always been more expressive of her pleasure than others sitting around us. Off and on throughout most of the songs she likes best, she says both “Wow” and “Oh.” She seemed to be louder this week than in the past. That would fit with her other expressions of emotion lately. This wouldn’t be a problem at all when the audience is applauding, but it seems a bit “over the top” during the music. She can be heard easily at our table and those next to us. The people with whom we sit are very understanding, but I occasionally wonder if this is ever annoying to them. At some point, I may speak with our friends at our table and gauge what I think is best. It may well be that the combination of Kate’s feelings about being with others and emotional behavior will be the thing that leads me to sit at a table for two. Whatever we do music is no less important for either of us today than it was at the beginning of her diagnosis, and I am optimistic that it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

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