Jesse and Fran Jackson credit music for allowing them to meet and fall in love nearly 71 years ago. As Mr. Jackson puts it, his wife was the only woman he had met who could keep up with him as they danced “the old cow pin stomp,” in the 1940s.
“That was such an important part of our lives in getting together,” he said. “It was all because of music.”
And thanks to a collaborative program, Music by the Bedside, between Peconic Landing — where the couple resides at The Shores, their skilled nursing facility — and East End Arts, music still plays a large role Mr. and Ms. Jackson’s lives.
“Here at Peconic Landing we found that through collaboration, true innovation is born,” said Robert Syron, Peconic Landing’s president and CEO. “As caregivers, we understand the benefits of playing music for our members.”
Through the Music by the Bedside program students and performers from East End Arts visit Peconic Landing residents in palliative care the last Friday of every month and perform for them as a way to lift resident’s spirits and allow them to relive their favorite memories.
The initiative, which began in October 2015, was awarded the 2016 Innovation of the Year award from LeadingAge, a nonprofit organization that specializes in aging services.
“Every year we get together and like to recognize somebody who’s doing something different and innovative and trying to spread that around across the state so that other non-for-profits can come forward and replicate the program,” said Jim Clyne, president and CEO of LeadingAge New York, at an event Thursday afternoon.
The volunteer performers are specially trained to provide supportive end-of-life comfort treatment for their audience. Caregivers at Peconic Landing decide if the music will benefit a senior. If they deem it will, performers, which consist of singers and instrumentalists, offer a song or musical piece from their own repertoire during their visit.
The musicians can also take special requests, something Mr. and Ms. Jackson, who’ve had four visits since the program began, have taken up. They often ask the EEA students to perform Frank Sinatra’s “September Song.”
“It’s very important,” he said of the song, adding that the couple is celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary next month. “We practically lived that, the words.”
During the award ceremony, held in the auditorium at Peconic Landing, a video was screened showing EEA students singing and playing the piano for multiple residents, including the Jacksons. [Watch the video below] The seniors could be seen smiling and singing along to the music.
“This is what I would call a win-win-win-win,” said Gregory Garrett, the executive vice president of Peconic Landing. “This is a win for Peconic Landing. It’s a win for East End Arts. But most importantly, it’s a win for our residents and the students that have participated and the performers. It’s been a tremendous experience.”
Photo Caption: Peconic Landing executive vice president Gregory Garrett accepts the Innovation of the Year Award from LeadingAge New York president and CEO Jim Clyne on Thursday. (Credit: Nicole Smith)