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Strumming the strings: Patient passes time pursuing his passion

IU Health University Hospital

Strumming the strings: Patient passes time pursuing his passion

He knew he’d be away from home for several weeks, so this patient packed his musical instruments to help pass the time.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

It was nearly 60 years ago when Jerry Noble received his first ukulele from his uncle. He played that instrument for several years and then switched to guitar.

When he was hospitalized at IU Health University Hospital in June for a marrow transplant, Noble brought both instruments with him. He was glad he did. IU Health Music Therapist Emily Caudill caught up with Noble during his recovery and they had a little jam session in his hospital room.

Music Therapy is provided to patients as part of the IU Health CompleteLife Program, with a focus on holistic healing. The program also offers complimentary art, massage, and yoga therapy to patients.

Patients don’t need to read music to take part in music therapy. Some listen while the therapist plays a guitar, piano, or ukulele to help calm their nerves. When Caudill visited Noble, she learned quickly that he was an enthusiast.

Noble was diagnosed with Myelofibrosis, an uncommon type of bone marrow cancer that disrupts the body’s normal production of blood cells. He is in the care of IU Health Dr. Sherif Farag. A resident of Fort Wayne, Ind., Noble was hospitalized for several weeks and then remained in Indianapolis to be close to the hospital.

Jerry Noble and wife hiking

When nurses learned that Noble and his wife, Gayle, were celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary, they sang to the couple, decorated his hospital room door, and served up a cake.

The couple met in 1967 while studying at Fort Wayne Bible College.

“We had to take some sort of physical education proficiency test and I held her ankles and counted while she did sit-ups. After a few sit-ups I counted 16 and jumped to 23, and I think I had her,” said Noble.

He studied pastoral ministries but shifted gears and earned a master ’s degree in public administration. He spent his career working as the court executive in Allen County and retired in 2014. Gayle Noble worked for a time in interior design but spent most of her years raising the couples’ two sons. The Nobles also have four grandchildren.

Jerry Noble on bike ride

For years, Jerry Noble has been an avid bicyclist competing five times in the 160-mile Rain Ride from Terre Haute to Richmond. He’s also played music most of his life. In 2012 Noble, along with two other musicians, formed TRU, (Three Rivers Ukulele). The club met the fourth Saturday of every month at the local Pizza Hut to play music. Sometimes they’d have as many as 30 people strumming tunes on their ukuleles.

Later in life, Noble and his wife started leading music at a Wednesday morning senior bible study.

“We like the contemporary Christian music but people our age miss the good old Gospel tunes,” said Noble. “There’s just something comfortable and soothing about that music.” He arranged about 60 hymns that they play at the Wednesday morning gatherings.

All that will have to take a rest for a bit. “My immunity is compromised so I’m taking a break from crowds,” said Noble. “We’ve been very fortunate with good health and some travels. For now, I’ll just play at home and hope I get to feeling better soon.”

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