Music that soothes the soul, volunteer from Musical Resources at HVAF
Nancy and Angela at HVAF
It was a billboard sign along a highway about HVAF serving homeless veterans that caught Nancy Hart’s eyes. It was a last minute cancellation that gave Angela a chance at a piano lesson where she would meet Nancy. It was happenstance.
Nancy is a volunteer at HVAF. She teaches piano to homeless veterans once a month. In 2011, she had lost her own home and had empathy towards those in transition.
She owns Musical Resources, a registered Indiana business since 2000 with locations in Jefferson County, Indiana serving mostly the 3 areas of Madison, Vevay, and Versailles.
Her goal is to introduce veterans to music as well as impact more people. She is offering free lessons for any interested veteran at HVAF.
“Being a piano technician, I initially offered to tune and internally clean and lubricate the instrument that is in the lobby at one of HVAF’s housing properties,” says Nancy. “While working on the piano, I was able to develop professional interactions with a few veterans who expressed desire to play the instrument,” says Nancy.
My first student at HVAF said,” but I can’t move this finger or this finger.” I said, “I’m going to show you that you can.”
And he did.
The seed was planted.
Angela, a fifty-five-year-old veteran who served in the National Guard says her family dynamic changed when she moved back home after serving in the military. She turned to alcohol to cope. But Angela worked hard in the HVAF housing program and she is getting her life back on track.
“It means a lot, an awful lot,” said Angela. “You need little distractions when things look bleak. Your world looks like it’s falling apart and you need a diversion,” she said. “You feel like no one cares and you’re expendable and you need something.”
Music is what she needed. It fills the lobby at HVAF’s Manchester Apartments where Angela calls home. The two women play softly, and although it’s simple, it helps Angela forget about her troubles.
There are many benefits of playing and teaching musical instruments, the piano being only one of them. Cognitive abilities, fine motor skills, and potentially new neuro pathways are all increased with learning new material, from the youngest to the oldest.
In a most recent article 2/18/16 from eMedExpert,”How Music Affects Us and Promotes Health,” there are statements and findings that conclusively support the benefits of studying music as self-management techniques of depression and pain control, as well as boosting the immune system. There are many other benefits addressed in the article which are too numerous to include. Pilot programs are now sprouting with the focus on veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Nancy works with the veterans on finger exercises, music reading, rhythm studies, and improvisation. She says consistency in regular practice times will be imperative for their growth.
“I am humbly grateful that HVAF has allowed me to sow seeds of greatness,” adds Nancy. “Together we work to raise awareness of our belief in humanity.”
Nancy plans to keep a 6 to 12 month journal on each participant to track their development patterns. At least three other veterans have expressed an interest in learning to play an instrument.