Music has a way of bringing people together. In some cases, it even has a way of bringing people back together, which is the case for Bobbi Halfhill and Betty Krapfl.
Krapfl babysat Halfhill when she was a toddler. One of Halfhill’s memories of that time was heading downstairs for music time, where Krapfl would play the guitar and sing songs for the children, such as Farmer in the Dell.
Halfhill’s mom, Tamy Halfhill, remembers Halfhill coming home all excited from Krapfl’s. “She would come home and say, ‘Betty played the ‘butar’ for us,’” Tamy laughed, “She couldn’t say guitar yet.”
After almost 25 years, Halfhill decided it was her turn to play for Krapfl.
Halfhill credits her love of music to people like Krapfl, which led her to her ultimate career as a music therapist.
Music therapists complete a bachelor’s degree in music therapy from an accredited institution, a 1,240-hour clinical internship and pass a board exam in order to practice.
Music therapists work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, in-home, nursing homes, rehabs and mental health facilities, with a variety of populations like infants in the NICU, children/adolescents/adults with autism and special needs, individuals with mental health needs, older adults and those at the end-of-life.
“Board certified music therapists use clinical and evidence-based music therapy interventions to accomplish individualized goals within the therapeutic relationship,” Halfhill explained. “Music therapy interventions can be designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation.”
On a trip back from Colorado, where Halfhill is a music therapist for Brookdale Hospice, she was looking to borrow a guitar.
Tamy Halfhill decided to reach out to Kay Demmer, Krapfl’s daughter, to see if Krapfl still had the guitar she used to play.
Krapfl lives at Oak Crest Manor, and had downsized the amount of possessions she had, but Demmer was sure that the guitar was still around.
It was still with the Krapfls, and that’s when Halfhill got an idea to surprise Krapfl.
She decided to surprise Krapfl by playing for her, using her old guitar during her visit back to Dyersville. Halfhill passed her idea on to Demmer, who was immediately on board with it.
Demmer explained that she told her parents a special guest was coming to visit Sept. 29.
Halfhill learned songs from Johnny Cash, Patsy Klein and others to play for Krapfl, all in one night.
On Sept. 29, Halfhill was tuning Krapfl’s guitar as Demmer wheeled her mom in.
Upon seeing Halfhill, Krapfl’s face broke out into a wide smile.
When asked if she knew Halfhill was going to be her special guest, Krapfl responded that she didn’t have a clue.
“I had no idea,” Krapfl laughed, still surprised to see the woman she used to play for.
Halfhill gave Krapfl a hug and told her she remembered singing songs with her as a toddler. “Betty, I still remember when you played guitar for us when we were itty bitty,” Halfhill said to Krapfl. “I was so little, I remember bits and pieces, but I remember you doing that.”
Halfhill explained that having Krapfl play the guitar throughout the years she babysat her was also when she started to value music.
“I had a lot of women in my life who always played music and always had it around,” Halfhill said. “It was because of them that I valued music and knew that music was more than just entertainment, that it could be more. It could be a piece of who you are.”
For Krapfl, however, having Halfhill come and play for her was the real gift, as a smile never left her face.
Both Halfhill and Krapfl sang songs such as the “Tennessee Waltz,” “Picture in a Frame,” and many more.
The cherry on top of Halfhill’s visit, for Krapfl, was hearing her guitar again after five years.
“It’s nice to hear my guitar again,” Krapfl smiled. “I am so shocked, I can’t believe it.”