The Marshall Plan: The rejuvenating power of music
There was a twinkle in June Green’s eyes as she made her way from a wheelchair into the seat of the weathered piano that is usually kept under a blue cloth inside the large meeting room of the Culpeper County Library.
The piano suddenly came to life when her incredibly nimble fingers danced cross its black and white keys playing for a solid hour to the delight of the Silver Citizens Club.
The Silver Club is a Culpeper Parks and Recreation sponsored program that meets weekly in the library.
A wide smile blossomed across Green’s face as she looked over the over the keys to see nearly 40 fellow-members of the club, who applauded after each and every song.
Accompanying Green on the drums was her friend Anders Drew, who often drives her to the group’s weekly meetings from Amissville. He also shares her love of music.
“June taught me to play the drums alongside her piano,” said Drew. “She’s an amazing musician.”
Drew has a musical background as a bass guitar player, but this was a new experience, performing in front of the club. The intergenerational duo was the club’s featured act for the day.
At about 30 years, Drew was most likely the youngest person in the room. In contrast, Green, who is 93-years old, has been playing the piano since childhood.
“In the 1950s I played in a band with my husband Lou Green,” said Green. “He used to play the drums while I played piano. We used to play music everywhere.”
Green’s song list was extensive. She covered nearly 35 songs, playing them all by ear.
“I can read music, too,” said Green. “When I was a kid my mother insisted that I learn to read music because she thought that only the wild girls played by ear.”
The scene brought back a number of memories from my childhood.
As a kid I would lie underneath my great-grandfather’s grand piano and watch the inner workings of wires and keys as he belted out ragtime tunes that were heavy on the bass.
His striking blue eyes used to light up when his hands danced across the keys. Surrounding the piano were family and neighbors, who stood with their mouths agape and feet tapping. He was simply an amazing musician into his late-90s--- just like Green.
Like some kind of musical fountain of youth, I witnessed the power of music then and now. I saw the same dazzling digits and youthful spark in the eyes.
Green’s audience enjoyed every note, recalling first dances, wedding songs, first kisses and dances that may have faded a bit with time, but still remain fresh in the heart and soul.
The song list included classics like “Over the Rainbow, Danny Boy, Tennessee Waltz, Mack the Knife, Red River Valley and Nothing Could Be Finer than to be in Carolina in the Morning.”
Many in the audience made numerous requests and nearly every time Green would produce a song.
Her performance was a resounding success concluding with two standing ovations, plenty of hugs and a lunch alongside her friends.
Music gives us a glimpse of a kind of momentary heaven where the aches, wrinkles and years retreat for a few precious minutes. I could see the power of great music as I scanned the room.
If we could somehow bottle the happiness that music creates we would be fighting a lot less and smiling a whole lot more.
Thank you for playing “Star Dust.”
For an hour the star dust of yesterday’s songs made an entire room smile.
Marshall Conner is a regular contributor to the Culpeper Times. You can reach him at email@example.com