On summer vacation, when I was 15 years old, my family and I traveled to the Catskill Mountains in New York to stay at a the Commodore Hotel. One day while improvising on my violin with another teenage guest on guitar in the Lobby of the hotel, an older gentleman, around 70 years old, dressed in fishing clothes and a fishing cap, sat down and listened to us play. He sat there smiling at us as if he really enjoyed our music. When we finished he told me he enjoyed our playing and he was on vacation recovering from an operation and was a professional violinist in New York City. He asked if he could meet my parents to see if he could give me violin lessons while we were vacationing at the hotel. He really missed his violin and he said he would enjoy giving me some pointers on playing. My parents agreed. His name was Benjamin Shube and he enjoyed showing me how to how play the violin. He had such a reverence, respect, and passion for playing the violin. Because of his influence I wanted to practice and be a fine musician.
Mr. Shube became my first Mentor. He advised me as to what music I should learn and helped me buy a violin bow. He always made helpful suggestions. My parents and I traveled to New York City for my birthday the next year so I could have a violin lesson with him on two Bach Violin Concertos. He loved playing the violin and shared his knowledge and passion for playing with me. I look back with gratitude on the legacy Mr. Benjamin Shube shared with me as a teenager. Positive influences last forever. Because of his Mentorship I too am able to help mentor others and carry on his tradition of excellence.
When I was a music student studying in New York City at the Juilliard School I played for the 92nd Y Orchestra to help cover my expenses for school and met Herman Silver, a 75 year old amateur musician who felt passionately about making music. He introduced himself to me the very first day I came to play with the orchestra. He had more energy and enthusiasm than most of the other younger players in the orchestra. He always had such a zest for life too!
On Saturday nights he had chamber music parties where the best musicians in town amateur and professional, ages 20- 80, would come and play the most famous musical pieces in groups of quintets, septets, and octets. We played works by Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Mozart, Brahms, and Beethoven. One of the big attractions to go with the joy of making music was the wonderful food cooked up and placed on a long table during our intermissions. We all had such a good time together.
Herman loved to play music and it kept his mind fresh and vibrant through his mid- 80s. He enjoyed sharing his passion for music with others and Mentoring other musicians both amateur and professional to continue his legacy.
My Dad, Dr. Robert J. Frank was a retired medical doctor, land developer and builder. He exercised every day through his mid- 80's. He would say that he was going to the exercise parlor and that he did not like going but it kept him flexible and moving. He also enjoyed reading detective stories, thrived on solving problems, and enjoyed planting a garden every year.
Dad felt it was important to eat right, watch your weight, and to exercise regularly at least 3 days a week at the minimum.
I recently gave a Lecture /Workshop at the Veterans Hospital for the hospital doctors, nurses, and staff members. This was a Music therapy workshop to assist patient's recovery. We went to see several patients. A gentleman in his late 60s to early 70's was in the fourth stage of Alzheimer's. He was talking in gibberish when we walked in. I asked him to nod if he wanted me to play a Classical piece or to nod for me to play him a jazz piece. He nodded for me to play a Classical piece. I played the Meditation from the Opera Thais by Jules Massenet.
He began to move his arms to the music and then after a few seconds started talking in clear coherent sentences. He told me that he used to play the piano. He was so animated and happy. The Classical piece I played helped him remember. The music gave him a sense of self.
I explained to the medical staff how the patients would benefit from hearing the music they loved best to help them remember and jog their memories. I suggested listening to music for 30 to 45 minutes a day.
What are 7 things you can do to keep your mind sharp, vibrant, and clear?
1) Take a class at the local College, University, or Community Center at a reduced or free price for seniors. They offer courses in many different fields.
2) Learn how to play a musical instrument that you have always wanted to play by taking lessons.
3) Join a club for reading, writing, sewing, knitting, crocheting, dancing or speaking and meet a wonderful group of people who share your interests to stretch and sharpen your mind.
4) Share your expertise on a subject you feel passionately about by becoming a mentor or tutor.
5) Join a Health Club or Gym and exercise at least 3 times a week.
6) Do you enjoy listening to music? Play your favorite music every day for 30- 40 minutes to make you smile, improve your mood, and help you think more clearly.
7) Write a legacy article for you and your family to enjoy.
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