The below article was featured in The Mahopac News on page 11.
Music is one of the most enigmatic pleasures of human existence — relaxing and transportive yet requiring absolutely no effort whatsoever to enjoy. The sounds of sultry saxophones in a jazz hall or the bellowing vocals reverberating in an opera house remind us of the myriad of musical experiences that people love, and love to enjoy. There is something about music that captures one’s heart and mesmerizes one’s mind and it is these intangible feelings that inspire people to seek out melodies and symphonies, brass bands and rock bands.
Whether 17 or 70, there is a universal yearning for the sounds of music in our lives. The Country House, an assisted living in Yorktown Heights, NY, knows this all too well and is intent on keeping residents entertained and engaged with vibrant programming, including lots and lots of music. Regardless of culture or medical condition, residents internalize their own appreciation for music.
On any given Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Mark Smoller, a resident of Putnam Valley, and “The Piano Man” to The Country House, can be seen tickling the ivories while playing a lively rendition of “Roll Out the Barrel.” On other occasions, a rousing “Twelfth Street Rag” is spilling out through the opened doors of the lobby, like a musical extravaganza. Music of long ago fills the rafters of this makeshift musical arena as Mark does his magic with his extraordinary talent and endless playlist of old-time tunes. He delights the residents with songs that they had listened to in their youth, when first falling in love, when marching off to World War II and marching home again.
As Mark breaks out into a mellifluous version of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” a murmur of recognition instantly fills the room. Heads sway to the melody as fingers keep time like batons. Residents, who just a few minutes earlier may have been lost in their own thoughts, now have a light in their eyes, as they vividly recall warm memories of long ago.
How wonderful is this thing, called music, forever creeping into our hearts and minds and providing us with never-ending pleasure and happiness. For an hour each week, The Country House has their own “Piano man” who transports the residents back to a time when they were young and spirited and full of joie de vivre. And for many, that feeling remains until Mark returns the following week with more songs that captivate their minds and reinvigorate their spirits.