Nonprofit lights up seniors' lives with song
Dean Mueller plays music for the residents of senior homes and always finds delight in their reactions.
"In a lot of ways, it's overwhelming," says Mueller, who tells of a resident getting out of her wheelchair to dance after not standing up for a year, and another singing along with the music after he had been nonverbal for a couple years.
"There are smiles, tears. They just light up. They line up and get there early, and our job is to keep them there for two full sets. We've had no problem. We like getting them to talk and interact with each other. You'd think they'd be doing that all the time, but sometimes they get closed in their own little world."
Mueller and his partner, Julie Amici, are expanding their endeavor to Fly Me To The Moon, a new nonprofit company that they'll use to set up shows in as many retirement communities, assisted living centers and memory care facilities as possible in 2019.
They're holding a fundraising concert, "Sugar and Spice," Monday, Dec. 17, at Lake Theater and Cafe in Lake Oswego, where Mueller serves as director of Music Mondays.
"I have a lot of different plans, depending on how it's going," Mueller says, of Fly Me To The Moon. He has performed mostly senior shows during the holidays and Valentine's Day, "but we want to do more of them, because we thought we had a big impact with them."
Mueller says he hears positive feedback from life enrichment directors at the homes, which has helped spur him on with Fly Me To The Moon. He says seniors benefit emotionally from the music.
He has partnered with Oregon Music Hall of Fame.
Fly Me To The Moon has events scheduled in Tualatin and Tanasbourne, and others in the works. But, again, they're looking to line up senior home gigs throughout 2019.
"I'd love to do it every month or possibly twice a month," he says.
"With my associations built as being a promoter, booker and buyer, I know many people who'd like to share their talents at these places."
Mueller and Amici perform music from the 1940s to '60s — jazz, blues and country from the likes of Julie London, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, etc.
"We are there to bring back good memories for the seniors," he says. "In discussions with musicians, I really stress that."