Local makes music magic for assisted living residents

Louisville man passionate about sharing music with senior citizens
Dorothy Heyser loves to dance during his performances. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Dorothy Heyser loves to dance during his performances. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Tim Harper puts the "assist" into assisted living at Atria in East Louisville. That's because he's in tune with the residents there, playing his guitar, banjo and the piano.

"I'm getting older, trying to figure out what to do next," he said. "And I always wanted to go play at one so I did and just instantly fell in love with it."

The residents will tell you the love is mutual, including 92-year-old Mary Klemenz.

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"You know when you get to be past a certain age you like a certain music, you don't like that hip hop. I don't know anything about it," Klemenz told WAVE 3 News anchor Scott Reynolds. "You can watch. Some of them know every word to every song."

Harper picks songs that connect. If he sees lips moving and toes tapping, he works on more songs like that.

"That's what moves me," Harper explained. "I'm the catalyst, I try to get them involved because not only are they singing but then it becomes fellowship and community."

He might play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" or an Elvis song.

No matter what he plays, 90-year-old Dorothy Heyser wouldn't miss it. She danced to many of Harper's songs.

"You haven't heard nothing like a 90-year-old woman getting up here boogieing," she said.

Judy Owen of Atria said what's even more inspiring is how some of the Alzheimer's patients brought to Harper's performance respond as well, and connect to the songs.

Harper will keep playing shows like this. He's even developing a portable digital player for seniors, that allows them to engage with music when he's not there, with the touch of just one button.

The magic of music has no age limit.

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