Reflections. By Anna O’Dell
This fall I will be pursuing my Master’s of Music in Harp Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In addition to a full tuition scholarship, I have been awarded a housing grant to live in the Twin Towers Retirement Village, where I will give monthly concerts to the residents as well as perform at Twin Towers Hospice. In addition, my work in this community, I am interested in performing in local area hospitals in Cincinnati. Playing in healthcare has been an immensely rewarding and moving experience, and I am certain that I want to make it a part of my future.
As I reflect upon my year of service, I am moved by the myriad of experiences I’ve had. There are so many moments I know I will never forget: paying a home visit to a gentleman immobilized with severe ALS disease, who shed a single tear when I began playing for him; the first time I played in the Intensive Care Nursery at Jefferson, where a week-old baby boy gazed at me wide-eyed and open-mouthed in amazement, as he had never heard live music before; meeting a man diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer who, despite his pain, was profoundly grateful for what he did have; playing for an oncology patient who used to be a classical composer, and upon hearing my music began crying with joy and singing along.
My time as an ArtistYear Fellow has taught me many things, but above all it has taught me to live my life with gratitude and thanks. When I was growing up my mother once told me, “If you have your health, you have everything.” Finally, I understand what she meant. I am so thankful to not be in the hospital at this moment, grappling with an all-consuming disease I have no control over. After spending a year with cancer patients, I am profoundly thankful for my health, and for the luxury to spend my life how I choose: using music to spread joy and bring meaning to people’s lives. Life is a precious gift, and my time in ArtistYear has made me appreciate it all the more. It may sound cliché, but it is so important to live in the moment and appreciate what we have.
ArtistYear has been an inspiring reminder as to why I chose music in the first place. It has helped me grow as an artist and as a person. Moving forward, I would like to curate a multi-faceted career that involves performing in an orchestra, playing chamber music, teaching, and of course, playing in healthcare. My time as an ArtistYear Fellow may be drawing to a close, but I will continue to carry the life lessons it has taught me for years to come.