If you’ve been around Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music for any length of time, you are probably familiar with Otto Gross – Quaver trainer, songwriter, and the entertaining & enthusiastic character in the Quaver series, Austin Otto. This week Otto shares a heartwarming story about a memorable “conversation” he had with his grandmother.
Take it away, Otto!
Last month, after a Friday afternoon workshop with the wonderful teachers of Prince George’s County, Maryland, I spent the weekend with my family in Owings Mills, a suburb of Baltimore. My time there included a visit with my grandmother, Mabel Brown, at the Forest Haven Nursing Home.
Grandma suffers from acute dementia, which has severely affected her memory and her ability to recognize her own children and grandchildren. Because of this, it can be very difficult for her to carry on a conversation. On my latest visit, however, something happened that transcended the limitations of her dementia and reminded me of the power of music.
Grandma Mabel and Otto
I was struggling through a conversation with Grandma when I noticed an old upright piano against the far wall of the nursing home’s day room. I quickly walked over to the piano and started to softly play one of Grandma’s favorite church songs, “This is the Day.” I was halfway through the first verse when I heard her sweet alto voice singing over my shoulder, “I will rejoice, I will rejoice, and be glad in it.”
I shifted to another favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace.” First verse. Second verse. She never missed a beat (or 16th note) – or a word. Then came the third verse with that stirring line, “Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” This brought tears to my eyes.
Those precious minutes in the day room are memorable for me, and they make me thankful for the ability to communicate in a language that seems immune to memory loss. Looking back at that special time, I believe music actually bypassed Grandma’s brain and gave me a way to dialogue directly with her soul.
Now I can look forward to many future “conversations” with Grandma through this marvelous medium of music. I’ve never been more convinced of the power of music, and the importance of teaching young people to speak its universal language. Thank you for all you do to bring music to life for your students!
Until next time – Boom-Chicka-Boom, Daddy-O! Austin Otto is out!