What’s in a Song

What’s in a Song I work as a caregiver with a client that has severe epilepsy. He has a sensitive nature despite a physical appearance that some might consider exaggerated. A large heavy brow, protruding teeth but with a smile that charms. He is 36 years old yet lives in a world of child-like isolation. Unable to speak, he spends most of his time in very simple play; rattling a plastic ring with variably colored bangles, banging a toy piano, or spinning a ball embedded in a panel. Yet, I think he has intelligence. He has no avenue to express it.

I noticed he was sensitive to sounds. I took my iPod and hooked it up to a speaker device and began playing music to him. He lighted up with delight. I played various types to him, classical orchestrations, children’s songs, even some Phillip Glass and could tell he had a sense of discernment. He preferred certain types to others.

Right now his two favorites are “Lavender Blue” sung by Burl Ives and a Chopin etude. He likes to dance to the first and just listen and squeal with delight to the latter. Yesterday, while listening to “Lavender Blue”, I encouraged him to sing. And he did. A low gravelly monotone note, repeated over and over. While it did not follow the melody and had no intelligible meaning, the sound had meaning for him. It was a beautiful song.

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