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Sheet music overlaying piano keys.

Music Soothes The Soul

“One does not need to have any formal knowledge of music—nor, indeed, to be particularly ‘musical’—to enjoy music and to respond to it at the deepest levels,” wrote the late neurologist Oliver Sacks.

“Music is part of being human, and there is no human culture in which it is not highly developed and esteemed.” – Oliver Sacks

For most of our lives, my husband, Walt, and I have both enjoyed performing and listening to music. And we appreciate that music can continue to be a part of our lives, now that he has moved to The Kensington.

Walt began playing the piano, and later the trombone, when he was young. As a teenager, he earned a seat in the Atlanta Youth Symphony. Later he helped found KSPC, the student radio station at Pomona College, and hosted its classical music show.

After we married, we enjoyed concerts together and built up our LP-then cassette tape-then CD collection. As we became more active in our church, Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, we played in the hand bell choir and sang in special choral performances. I began accompanying the children’s choir on the piano.

A few years later, Walt decided to begin playing the trombone again. After taking some lessons, he joined the NOVA Band at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Its members ranged in age from 18 to 80 and was reputedly the country’s largest community college band. We also formed an informal instrumental group at our church, and–in an acknowledgement of our advancing years— dubbed ourselves “The Rock Spring Winded Ensemble.”

Walt later joined the Falls Church Concert Band, and played in Memorial Day concerts and at Cherry Hill Park and other community venues. In the summer of 2006, he played in London, Bath and Bristol when the band made a trip to England. He also served on the board of directors of the Arlington Symphony when it was conducted by Ruben Vartanyan, who had once led the Bolshoi Opera. Eventually, dental surgery and the heft of a trombone brought Walt’s playing career to an end. But we continued to seek out music when we traveled, enjoying performances in Vienna and Budapest on a 2011 Danube River cruise and concerts at Tanglewood three summers ago.

Now, when I ride up The Kensington elevator in late afternoon, I anticipate the sound of musicians playing in The Cafe, no matter whether they are classical pianists, Johnny Cash wannabes or young violinists. I am grateful that professional musicians perform for each Kensington neighborhood, and that the grand pianos are available to anyone who wants to play. I’ve enjoyed leading occasional sing-a-longs in Connections (one of the Memory Care neighborhoods at The Kensington), and getting the chance to live out my fantasy of becoming a lounge pianist. And even some of the care managers are now squeezing in lessons on how to play “Chopsticks.”

The music still goes on.

By: Sara F. – Resident at The Kensington