Glenwood woman helps other to heal through music |

Glenwood woman helps other to heal through music

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent file

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” When you’re a new reporter, fresh to town, these things happen all the time. You learn of some great story, a vital person. Then, a bit late, you realize this is only news to you.

So it was with Karin White, probably Glenwood’s most famous flute player. As she has for years, this Wednesday, she’ll be giving a free concert for patients and visitors at Valley View Hospital.

During a recent interview at her home, she was genuine and warm, offering tea. She explained that, to many locals, she’s the woman who helped start Symphony in the Valley. She’s also the flutist who accompanies Defiance Community Players’ shows. Maybe residents recall her as a former City Market checker, she went on, active for two decades. A 29-year Glenwood resident, she explained she’s been featured in the paper many a time before. She laughed self-consciously at being so well-known.

That’s about the time I got worried. What was I going to say about her that was new?

So I just kept listening.

“I guess I’m pretty modest,” she said, of her local notoriety. “I enjoy my music and I enjoy playing my music and sharing my music. It’s like therapy for me.”

She was born in Massachusetts more than 60 years ago, she said, and she came into music early. As a youngster, she was taught in school how to craft her own little bamboo flute ” the first of many she would own. She wouldn’t really do anything with the instrument until she was 14, however, when she was finally given a metal, more professional version of one. She began playing in school bands and in hospitals, and in her words, she’s been “doing it ever since.”

In 1958, she joined the Women’s Air Force Band. For three years, she played to help drum up new recruits and to soothe wounded soldiers. In 1961, when the group was disbanded, White wasn’t about to stop what she loved. She had so many layers of life after that, from marriage to moving to raising four children. Performing flute, however, was one thing that remained the same.

“Music is a universal language,” she said, “so no matter where you are, you can play.”

For White, that’s meant lending her skills at hospitals, churches, wherever she could. For the last few years, she’s also been traveling with her former Air Force crew, playing for veterans across the country. With emotion in her voice, she described a recent a show at a V.A. hospital in Myrtle Beach, S.C. There, she said, the patients “didn’t even think people cared anymore.”

During a Christmas trip with her husband to the Texas hill country, White recalled performing for a group of elderly men. They were all too sick to probably ever leave the hospital. One old fellow, who she thought was sleeping, woke right up when he heard her.

“I almost cried because he said I made his day,” she said. “It was wonderful.”

It seems that playing for patients, especially those in bad shape, is one of most important things she can do. She wants to help. On Wednesday, like always, she doesn’t care if people request an Irish jig or the Pink Panther theme song, she explained. She just hopes the music matters to them.

“It’s a healing experience. It’s healing people’s souls. It makes them feel good, as well as me,” she said.

“I know I’m doing good.”

Soon after, she picked up her flute and blew a few tunes. They were faintly familiar Irish melodies, and they came out smooth and velvety. She bobbed forward and back slowly as she played. Though there was only one person watching, she was keenly concentrated, caring about each note.

I was in absolute appreciation then. I was also left with the same question. What can I say that’s distinct here? All I had was my own experience, my own awe ” nothing groundbreaking. People already know this story.

And then I thought, maybe that’s just fine.

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

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