A grant was found to pay for the Howland woman's work.
By JENNINE ZELEZNIK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The sweet strains of a hammered dulcimer fill the hospital's entrance hall, calming waiting family members and patients alike.
Seated in the family waiting room -- a tiny balcony that overlooks the main lobby at Forum Health Trumbull Memorial Hospital -- Judith Minogue used two narrow wooden hammers to coax music from the strings of her instrument.
Finished with her song, she laid the hammers together across the top of the dulcimer, then smiled.
"People who come here," she said, gesturing around the waiting room, "are waiting for news about their loved ones. They are -- a lot of times -- under a lot of stress. This music relaxes them."
And indeed, when she returned to the dulcimer, the room grew hushed as the traditional song "Simple Gifts" vibrated through the air.
"I love this song," a woman in a long blue dress whispered to the man sitting beside her. She tapped her blue-clad foot gently against the floor, and quietly sang along to the music.
As the song ended, Minogue smiled at the applause, then began again. Soon, "Amazing Grace" was floating over the hushed audience.
Family struggle: Minogue shared a story once of a family who was struggling through the death of their daughter. Before she started playing, the family members were restless -- they couldn't sit still. They walked, to get coffee, to the water fountain -- anything to move.
Though she didn't watch the family -- she can't take her eyes from the dulcimer while she's playing -- one volunteer told her that after she started the music, "I watched them gradually calm down.
"They were still upset, but calmer -- more at peace."
Healing tunes: Minogue doesn't reserve her music to this small area of the building. Oftentimes, she will visit other departments, and even patients' rooms.
"It's very nice [in their rooms]," she said, pushing her curly blond hair behind her ear. "It's very one-on-one."
She believes the music helps -- and that it has the power to heal.
"Like meditation, it works by relaxing our bodies, calming our minds and renewing our spirit," she said. "Music heals because it does influence the physical, the emotional and the spiritual all at once."
Calling: For more than two years, the Howland resident has brought her healing music to the hospital, first as a volunteer, then a grant was found to pay for her work.
"I felt a calling to do this -- to help people who are suffering," Minogue said, sitting with her hands clasped gently in the folds of her sleeveless dress.
She struggled with her words, trying to say exactly what she felt.
"I wanted -- music has been so good to me, has given me so much pleasure," she said. "I saw this -- as a way to give back.
"Music is a gift God gave me. I'm glad to be able to use it to help people."
XMinogue has recorded CDs of her music. They can be bought at the hospital gift shop, or by writing to her at 9086 Briarbrook Drive, Warren, Ohio 44484.