Lifting spirits and melting barriers, one note at a time

Kelsey Buell performs songs on the violin outside of Edgewood Vista for residents of the assisted living facility on Monday, March 30, in Fargo. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum
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FARGO — The sun shines down as windows on every floor of Edgewood in Fargo are thrown open.

Soon, notes start to filter their way through the warm March air to the residents, who are eagerly waiting for the music to begin.

It's something straight out of the 1989 film "Say Anything," if John Cusack was talented violinist Kelsey Joy Buell and the boombox was an electric violin.

The afternoon concert, arranged by Tim Flakoll, spread a little joy to residents on the warm March afternoon.


"Since visitor restrictions have been put into place, I have been tireless in trying to connect with my parents and to keep our family engaged with each other," said Flakoll.

The family typically video chats through the app WhatsApp, which Flakoll says he added to his parents' phones early on, but this afternoon really meant something special.

"I love my parents and family," Flakoll said. "Our family loves music, and music is a great way to express my love for them. I remember my parents singing to me when I was a child and felt down or sick, and, while we all feel healthy today, this seemed like a great way to lift their's and others' spirits."

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Kelsey Buell performs songs on the violin outside of Edgewood Vista for residents of the assisted living facility on Monday, March 30, in Fargo. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

From hymns, like "You Raise Me Up" to classics like "Hallelujah" and the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" to modern tunes from Adele ("Rolling in the Deep") and One Republic ("Secrets"), Buell performed to an audience of window listeners — separated by walls, but brought very much together through the power of music.


"I'm surprised I didn't feel emotional," Buell said. "Music has always been my No. 1 passion, so it was nice to be able to share it with people like this."

Leaning out their second-story window at Edgewood Fargo, Alden and Wilma Flakoll were all smiles while Buell performed. Their son, Tim, roamed the grounds, capturing video, waving and blowing kisses to his parents.

"We keep him busy trying to entertain us," said Tim's mother, Wilma.

"It's unbelievable," said his father, Alden. "All the songs we knew really well."

"There wasn't a song here that wasn't really special (to us)," Wilma agreed.

Around the horseshoe-shaped grounds of Edgewood, windows were thrown open, giving residents a bit of fresh air and the chance to enjoy the afternoon melodies.

"I have developed friendships with a number of the people who are in the same complex at Edgewood Vista, and I want this to remind them that people love them and care about their well-being," Tim said.

The Flakoll family is very musical. Holiday gatherings find the family gathered around a piano to sing, making it a central activity that binds the family together, while the harmony created through the blending of their voices is a reminder that each has an important role to play — not just in singing, but in life.


"This is kind of like giving Mom and Dad a big, musical hug," Tim said.

Related Topics: MUSICFAMILY
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