I got a message last week from my neighbor who works at a senior living facility in Cedar Rapids. She knows I'm a music lover and a vinyl collector. She wondered if I'd be willing to come in for an hour or so, and play some records for some of the residents. Absolutely. So I packed up my equipment and took my daughter Carly with me to spin some tunes Monday afternoon.

I set up in the commons or dining area and before long I had an audience of around 15 or so people. When I was asked to come and play some of my records, I figured I'd bring some of my older records. I brought some Beach Boys, Beatles, and even a little Johnny Cash. I even brought the oldest record I have, a Dave Brubeck jazz album from 1959. It was all about the classics.

Ryan Brainard

I have a portable turntable and I paired it with a nice set of computer speakers complete with a sub and the sound began to fill the room. I talked about my love of vinyl and music and what my influences were. When I played a record, I passed around the jacket so they could see who the artist was. I talked about why vinyl is so popular. I love holding a jacket in my hand. It's like a little piece of history right there in your hand. It wasn't long before the residents began sharing too.

One had been a singer in a band years ago. Another had played guitar all his life and loved hearing the different instruments. One woman's husband had collected records when he was alive. His collection numbered in the thousands!

Ryan Brainard

More than the music, the residents loved having a visitor. I had Carly with me too. The residents loved watching her. One told her that she reminded her of her own daughters who she didn't get to see much anymore. Carly helped wheel down residents to the dining area and even helped pass out drinks and snacks.

In the end, I love talking about music. It's what I do for a living after all. But Monday afternoon was about more than that. It was about showing these men and women that they are still loved and respected. I plan going back once a month and playing them some more music. I also plan on taking all my kids with me at some point to help. They need to see that life doesn't stop when you get older. They need to hear the life stories that they have to share. Empathy learned through music. That's a class I don't mind teaching at all.