Music for the ages: 103-year-old Bismarck woman celebrates birthday with music

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 4:15 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Music can be good therapy. It can also help us through the tough times and help us celebrate the good.

Perhaps no one knows that better than Hulda Erdman. She has been playing the piano and singing most of her life. At 103 years old, she still tickles the ivory whenever she can.

Erdman has dozens of notebooks filled with church hymns.

“They’re all favorites, I guess. I can’t just pick one,” she said with a laugh.

There are no music notes on these pages, just words. That’s enough for Erdman.

“I play by ear,” she stated.

She’s never had a lesson and can’t read music, but her love of music inspired her to give it a shot.

“I started learning to play when I was young, maybe 12 or 14 years old,” she recalled.

Music has always been her favorite pastime; it’s helped her through some tough times.

“I used to play all Sunday afternoon after my husband died. That was my pastime Sundays. I would come home from church and then I’d sit down and play and sing,” said Erdman.

Erdman recently celebrated a birthday.

“Yes, on July 6,” she said. “I’m 103. I’m starting to get all wrinkled,” she joked.

To celebrate, she held a little concert for staff and residents at the Baptist Health Care Center, where she lives. Staff live-streamed that performance on their Facebook page. That video got thousands of views.

“I couldn’t believe it was all the way to Washington, D.C. and Maryland,” said Erdman.

The video prompted hundreds of birthday wishes and even phone calls from far-away family.

Erdman isn’t really sure what the secret to living such a long life is, but she says her faith and her time spent making music might be the keys.

“The Lord was good to me,” she added.

Erdman grew up in a musical family. She was one of 13 kids who grew up on a farm near Beulah. Her parents as well as her brothers and sisters all love to sing and played several instruments by ear, including the piano, accordion and guitar.

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