In the mood for a melody

With more than 800 songs in his repertoire, mecwacare volunteer Paul, 77, finds it hard to settle on a favourite.

“Maybe San Francisco Bay Blues,” the former industrial chemist and teacher says.

For the residents of mecwacare’s Vincent House aged care facility in Westmeadows, Paul’s weekly visits as a volunteer pianist provide hours of listening pleasure, as well as the opportunity to explore the links between music and memory.

“When I started volunteering here in 2018, I was playing songs from the 1930s and 1940s,” Paul says.

“Then I realized that a lot of the people here were too young for that, really, so I started adding songs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s too. Jailhouse Rock and Be Bop a Lula are popular, and so is You Are the Sunshine of my Life.”

His musical talents get people singing along ‘most days’, says Paul, and on this Tuesday, it is definitely the case. In the gentle morning light of the living room, a group of enthusiastic residents tap their toes on the floor as Paul’s fingers glide effortlessly over the piano keys. Others move their hands to the rhythm on the arms of their chairs and add their voices to the chorus.

Paul’s commitment as a volunteer adds important enrichment to the lives of the residents for which the staff are extremely grateful. As he steps away from the piano after playing his last song for the day, his audience clap their hands in appreciation.

“Knowing that I’m helping people remember some good times from their lives, as well as adding some fun to their day, is a wonderful feeling,” he says.

Photo: Paul on the piano.

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