A new job brings an equal amount of excitement and anxiety. When I joined the Music Section last year, I felt mildly anxious about what kind of patrons I would be working with and what their expectations would be. I am happy to report that it’s been a great year.
Over the past year, I’ve gotten to know many of our patrons by talking to them on the phone. Prior to this job, I’ve worked at a heath communications company and also in the public library system, both of which involved answering calls from the public. I can say without any reservations that our patrons are the most gracious, patient and enthusiastic bunch. I don’t feel any trepidation when the phone rings because I know that I will have a pleasant conversation, and may even share a hearty laugh with a patron who appreciates my help.
Many of our patrons are lifelong learners who take great pleasure in learning more about different styles of music and musicians that they enjoy listening to. For example, some patrons have gone through much of our music appreciation recordings on opera and possess great knowledge on the genre. I’m convinced they could teach a course on operas or give lectures. They are not only knowledgeable but their enthusiasm is palpable. If I were ever on the TV quiz show and got stuck on an opera-related question, I would definitely phone one of them for the one-time lifeline call.
We also hear from many individuals who are learning to play a new instrument and are working on improving their musical skills. I am awed by the patrons who learn song after song by listening to the instructional recordings and build up their repertoire. A patron recently told me that he spends 3-4 hours every day practicing on his keyboard so that he will be ready to perform at a community event in the fall. Now that’s dedication!
Not infrequently, we have patrons who decide to learn braille music after experiencing the limitations of the verbal instructions. I agree with them that learning to read braille music is a great idea in order to play more complicated and extended musical compositions. As a new braille student, I know that it’s not an easy task but something that you patiently chip away at every day. As I checked out an advanced Chopin piece for a patron, I felt happy and proud for him to discover that he learned to read Braille music only three years ago.
We work with the parents, teachers, librarians, and school staff who stay one step ahead of the visually impaired music students they assist in order to get them the music materials in a timely manner. They also guide the students so that they can work directly with us and learn to download from BARD. I like hearing about the students’ progress and feel uplifted by their efforts and accomplishments.
Finally, some of our patrons are professional musicians who perform and teach for a living. They are talented and accomplished musicians who have been our patrons for a number of years and know us by our names. They are like family members whom I enjoy catching up with and sending packages of treats to (in the form of braille music).
I feel fortunate to be doing what I enjoy and value: a job serving patrons who love music.
Kudos to our patrons who continue to learn and grow.
Donna, your comments are right on the mark! Thank you for all you have done this past year, and all you continue to do.
Thank you, Christina.