I suppose many don’t know that I come from a family musicians… mainly myself, my father, and two brothers all sing and at least play one instrument. Some people grew up playing and excelling at sports… and while I played, I definitely did not excel! For my brothers and I, it was music. I started with drums for about 10 years, then moved onto guitar and singing. Sometime during my second year at Bastyr I went into Dusty Strings in Fremont and was amazed by the harps and hammered dulcimers. There I was talking to Scott Mercado (the drummer for Candlebox!), and he said to me “the hammered dulcimer is a great way for a percussionist to express themselves in a melodic way”. Well, I was hooked… by its sound, its look, its MAGIC. I ended up renting one for a bit, and then buying one later that year. It seemed (at the time) like a great use of student-loan money.
A few years later, a very close friend of mine fell ill, and was in need of major surgery. I knew she liked the dulcimer, so I visited her in the hospital after her surgery, set up the dulcimer, and was hoping to just lift her spirits a bit. It was very well-received by her, her family (particularly her dad), and anyone who was in ear-shot on her floor. For me, it was wonderfully heart-warming to help in any way I could. It’s a situation where you can’t help but feel like there’s nothing you can do – you want to help, but how, while someone so dear to your heart is going through something so traumatic? Later she communicated to me how “healing” the music was… it was all she could really grasp on to. I felt honored and touched…
Last week I received an email from her saying that a family-friend of hers is in the hospital and will be having a double mastectomy on Wednesday. She asked if I’d come and play. Unfortunately, I sold the dulcimer about a year and a half ago. So we put our heads and resources together and rented a small one from Dusty Strings. We arrived around dinnertime, and she had just gotten out of surgery that morning. I have to say she seemed in fairly good spirits considering what she had just been through. Oddly enough, she seemed very familiar to me… not sure if we’d actually met before. Perhaps in another life… she felt like a kindred spirit in any case. Insecurity can come out at real inappropriate times… as I proceed to go into that I haven’t played the dulcimer in over a year and a half and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the music can still play through me for her.
I finish setting the dulcimer up on her bedside meal-cart thingy, take the wooden hammers out, get my feel for the layout of the strings… and just go for it. People were coming in and out, conversations were still carrying on, and I was just in the background… perfect. A little while into it, my eyes started welling up, out of nowhere. I don’t know what it was… I can only guess it was my heart touched by a combination of the angelic sound of the dulcimer meeting the extraordinary woman in the bed, surrounded by a lot of love and good home-cooked food. I think its safe to say, all were touched in one way or another. Later, my friend told me that while I was playing, her friend kept looking over at me in gratitude, potentially offering additional peace during this trying time.
In the end, I feel blessed to have had these experiences. Music is just another form of energy, and like other forms of “energy-work”, can absolutely heal. Whether it’s with needles, herbs, hands, or words… when we fully embrace the notion of “EVERYTHING is energy”, then ANYTHING is possible!