A while ago now, whilst writing for another blog, I did a post about how valuable I was finding my iPod Touch.
For some time now I have been working with Henry, a man who is virtually unable to make any deliberate movement with his limbs, and who has a marked preference for sleeping - or at least semi-consciousness - when we work together. His particular array of ailments and the cocktail of drugs that he takes mean that he is rarely what one would call "awake" and, when he is, his limbs are locked tight like pieces of wood. I count it as a good session if he opens his eyes at all during a typical 45-minute stint with him and his partner, Paul.
Something last week made me decide to take along my husband's iPad, and I am very glad that I did. The iPad is loaded with various bits and pieces of easy-access music software that I have collected along the way whilst working with my iPod Touch, and I've transferred these over to the iPad.
My favourite one was first shown to me when I took a course as a Lifemusic Facilitator. It's called "Bebot"
I decided to try it with Henry.
After a little while, to my surprise, he opened his eyes and looked at me.
His shave was haphazard and there was still dried Weetabix around his lips. One of his eyes was still clagged up with sleep, or perhaps he had a cold, or maybe even conjunctivitis.
As I said before, Henry doesn't look at me very often so his gaze was greeted by the picture of me with a delighted grin on my face. I'm still not altogether sure whether or not he recognises me. I greeted him and asked permission, then began the process of stretching out one of his arms (his fists were clenched up under his chin). I asked if I might "borrow a finger, please" and after a minute or so a digit does indeed emerge from his left fist. His carers often laugh about Henry "giving me the finger".
The extended finger was all I need to get Henry started on the iPad (though I subsequently discovered that his knuckles and/or fists works well, too.) He began playing on Bebot. His eyes flickered open and closed. He looks at everything and at nothing. Together we moved his hands over the screen of the iPad. Paul beat a slow, sombre tattoo on the floor tom. I started to sing a wordless improvisation along with the notes generated by Henry's hands, resting and sometimes moving (whether by accident or design, it was almost impossible to tell) over the screen of the iPad.
I looked up again just in time to see a tear leaking out of Henry's left eye and experienced a strong moment of connection with him. But then, he may just have conjunctivitis.