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Caring for Community with Gifts of Music

 

On May 2nd, BFS 7th grade students Ana N. and Cal S., 8th grade student Breyten N. and a student from Poly Prep performed a thirty minute chamber concert for a homebound older neighbor in her Brooklyn Heights apartment. The neighbor lives alone but participates in the Heights and Hills Case Management Program through which she receives a Friendly Visitor who has been in her life for over three years now. The older neighbor is a lifelong fan of art, music, and dance but now too unsteady on her feet to get out to enjoy live performances or museum visits.

The idea for a home concert came from seventh grader Ana N. Ana plays the violin and piano and was very interested in sharing her music with older adults in the Brooklyn community. As a 4th grader, Ana had the opportunity to pen pal with an older neighbor through Heights & Hills and she remembers it fondly. Ana and her brother, Breyten, are part of a Chamber Music organization and go to a home for older adults in Manhattan each year and Ana has thoroughly enjoyed the experience. She reached out to Director of Service Learning & Civic Engagement Natania Kremer seeking additional opportunities to connect with older adults in Brooklyn who may appreciate some live music from youth.

Ana and Natania walked over to Heights & Hills, which is around the corner from Brooklyn Friends School, to meet with Volunteer Program Manager Betsy Guttmacher and discuss the idea. Ana then stayed in contact with Betsy over the last couple of months via email to refine the logistics. Ana put a tremendous amount of work into getting her string quartet together and preparing to play.

As Betsy shared, “the result of all her efforts was pretty wonderful! The students were terrific musicians, serious and well prepared. The older adult was thrilled and moved to tears. She invited her friend, who has been her support system and all around life-saver despite having her own health needs, to join as well as a distant relative who happened to be in town. And, a very young neighbor whom she had previously never met happened to wander in to everyone’s delight! It was extra lovely to connect her to these new neighbors and it seems they may return for another visit soon.”

Ana reflected on the experience as well: “This was a really wonderful experience. Playing music for an older neighbor was such a simple way to serve our community and it affected both the listeners and us as musicians. After the rehearsals together and the time spent practicing, we all improved a lot at our instruments which enhanced our love for music. Although we considered this a small act and the least that we could do, the neighbor we played for was impacted by the music in a way we didn’t expect. She was brought to tears which made us feel like we had really done something significant.”