The art of communication is something Sahej Bir Singh Bhatia wants to master, even if it takes an entire lifetime.
"So, I actually love languages," he said while sitting in his Westlake home.
The high school senior at Westlake Academy can understand five languages, and his command of them is as impressive as his quest to communicate beyond words.
"But really, music is just pure expression," Bhatia said. "It's a language that doesn't require any words and anybody can understand it regardless of what language their mouth may speak."
In an effort to share his love of music, Bhatia started to volunteer to play for others — including a group of seniors at Heartland Healthcare Center in Bedford.
"Whenever I play, I try to put in as much emotion as I can into the music," he said. "I try to give them the same feeling that I get from it."
Signs of success are easy to see from his group of around a dozen listeners: from the slow and relaxed toe taps, to keeping time with hands that have experienced a lot of it.
Resident David Coke was so moved he scooted up to play the piano himself.
"If I can play music and someone feels like, 'I want to do something,' and they feel this energy in them — that's exactly what I'm trying to do and I know that it was successful in that way," Bhatia said.
He also shared what one of the Heartland Healthcare residents shared with him after his performance.
"One of the elderly ladies was telling me, 'I felt out of this world.' And that seems like one of those perfect quotes, but she actually said that and I was just — I was a little bit shocked."
He's enjoyed volunteering so much that he started a non-profit to help connect other musicians his age to people who otherwise might not get to listen to a live musical performance.
"I decided, 'I'm sure there has to be someone else like me.' I'm not the only one who wants to do this sort of stuff," Bhatia said.
He named his non-profit the Music Heals Foundation.
"It's called Music Heals because people always talk about and are concerned with physical health, but what about spiritual health, mental health, whatever the non-corporeal part of it," Bhatia said. "And music can do just that because it gets just straight to your soul when you listen to it and you just hear the right piece — it just gets straight there, past the body, and that's where spiritual health can be helped."
Through his non-profit, his peers like Andrew Martin, who is also a senior at Westlake Academy, are joining Bhatia in sharing their music.
"At the very least, it can offer an enjoyable experience," Martin said. But also, it can relax someone, it can bring them mentally into a different place, it can emotionally move some."
Bhatia is using his passion for playing to bring joy to others — both those performing and listening — and that is a powerful gift.
"I can move my fingers, and I can make someone feel a certain way, and that's just one of the most amazing things about it," Bhatia said.
He's connecting with people, even without exchanging a word in any of the languages he speaks.