Malcolm Anderson brings musical joy to residents during COVID-19 pandemic

When Malcolm Anderson began working with seniors in 2000, he quickly realized he’d found his calling. And his passion within that calling? “Music has always been part of who I am.”

As chapel musician at the Walker Methodist Health Center in Minneapolis, Malcolm usually facilitates and plays piano for programs like chapel, worship services, and more. He could often be found connecting with residents or leading musical groups. During the coronavirus pandemic, though, all of that has changed.

Thanks to the help of Chaplain David Cobb, who updated the chapel’s audio and visual sound equipment, Malcolm has been able to broadcast his programs to every floor of the Health Center. If he’s not there on weekends, he can even pre-record videos for residents to enjoy. Here are some of the programs residents can tune into by turning their TVs onto channel 52…

  • And the Beat Goes on: Malcolm talks about different rhythms, plays examples, and encourages residents to participate by clapping their hands or stomping their feet.
  • Sing-alongs: During this event, Malcolm sings songs the residents already know, or he delivers lyric sheets with new songs to their apartments.
  • Wednesday pipe organ medleys: Did you know pipe organs can sound like theater organs? Many residents love listening to Broadway show tunes. Malcolm wants to get a drum machine for residents who like rock music, too. “From rock to Bach,” he quipped.
  • Friday piano reveries: Malcolm plays quiet and gentle music for relaxation.
  • Book club: Their latest read was Memories of Mayberry, a book about how Andy Griffith’s childhood influenced his TV show.

But that’s not all… Malcolm also developed special virtual programs for holidays. His Easter program offered classical organ music and upbeat tunes. For Memorial Day, viewers heard about the history and purpose of the celebration, sang songs like “America the Beautiful,” and were invited to pray for those who are serving. Knowing residents are up-to-date on what’s happening in the world, Malcolm offered an intentional Fourth of July program. In addition to playing festive music, he also talked about current events, addressed the heartbreak and suffering in our nation, and led participants to pray for healing in our country. For each holiday, Malcolm printed programs and brought them to residents’ doors.

The response to the virtual music programming has been wonderful. “When I’m walking down the hall, sometimes people stop to tell me they love the music,” Malcolm said. “Other times they request a song. There’s a wide variety of people representing different ages here, but they all love music.”

Eventually, Malcolm hopes to start small, socially distanced groups in person, being mindful about guidelines about singing and gathering. He even wants to start a drum circle and a “musical floors” program, featuring one floor every month. Thanks to Malcolm’s creativity and passion for enhancing the lives of seniors through music, residents can find a beat that makes each day better.

“I could retire, but I don’t want to because I love serving people through music they enjoy,” said Malcolm. “As long as I can walk, talk, and breathe—this is what I’ll be doing.”

Topics: Communities, Our Stories, Featured

Amy Weiss

Written by Amy Weiss

Walker Methodist storyteller and marketing assistant

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