Drumming Up Fun At a West Seattle Senior HomeApril 26, 2012 @ 5:52 pm (Updated: 6:09 pm - 4/26/12 )
By Rachel Belle
Tuesday is a good day at Providence ElderPlace in West Seattle because Tuesday is drum group. The seniors file in in wheelchairs, with walkers or slowly on their own two feet.
"I like the drumming, it's fun. I like to entertain," laughs 82-year-old Wilma, who is blind and partially deaf. She smiles and stays on rhythm with the rest of the seniors through their 30-minute drumming session. Sally Medford has never been musical, but she enjoys playing the drums with the others.
"It's a lot of fun and I feel like I get my frustration out. I just pound the drum and play music. It's helped me get stronger, pounding the drum and moving around. I could do it 10-15 minutes when I started. Now I can go the half an hour that we have. "
The group is led by drummer John Avinger, creator of the World Rhythm Festival, who recently retired after owning John's Music for 30 years.
"I've never had more fun than working with these guys. It's just a blast. I've been kind of shocked, really, it's effective. It seems to really work. Everybody has a great time and it's fun. This group, which I've seen every week now since the fall, they're actually getting a lot better. They're able to do more complicated rhythms."
Alvin Louis Seey is 71 years old.
"I used to be a musician, myself, I used to have my own band. I was a blue's man, I played the blues! Once you get started, it gets into your blood. Once it gets into your blood, it's hard to get out."
Certified Therapeutic Recreation therapist, Susan Disman, says drumming really helps with his behavior.
"Sometimes Alvin can have a little bit of agitation. Alvin can't see very well, his vision has really decreased. So when he's out in the general public, in our programs, sometimes he can get a little agitated. He can come in here and get some of his frustration out, he can be loud, he can be noisy and people are like 'That is so great, Alvin! You're doing such a good job.' In other places, we have a group leader and maybe he has to be a little bit quieter, and that might be a little bit harder."
She's also seen improvement in a Japanese American woman named Sakai. Sakai sometimes sings a Japanese song from her youth.
"Sometimes when she sings it she can get half a verse out," Susan says. "Last week she sang three versus of the song. No one had ever heard her sing all three versus in Japanese. I think that's directly related to the drumming. Being able to bring out those memories."
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.