Music Service Club delights elderly

     Encore! The familiar ring of elderly voices enthusiastically begs for more. The students eagerly return to their instruments, taking turns to play the music that they have either rehearsed for hours or started learning the day before. Some audience members clap with delight, others close their eyes and enjoy the music, and no one wants the music to stop.

Visits like these capture the essence of the Music Service Club, whose members performed for various nursing and retirement homes throughout the 2013-2014 school year. The students engaged in active community involvement while refining their performance skills and expanding their musical tastes.

A similar Upper School organization, the Piano Club, serves as the antecedent to the Music Service Club, as it eventually died off due to the graduating seniors and overall change in interest. The current club began separately due to junior Laura Street’s interest in initiating such an organization, based on her piano background and interest in providing the opportunity for students to expand their musical experiences beyond the concert hall.

“When I started the club last year, I had no idea that there was a similar one several years ago,” said Street. “I think it’s cool to see how people share these common ideas, and that we can use them to make the club as successful and purposeful as possible.”

The Music Service Club began last school year for two main reasons: to give an opportunity to young musicians who seek to expand their musical experience beyond the concert hall, and to benefit communities around Atlanta by providing easy access to enjoyable live music.

“You get so much from the community, and you need to give something back,” said sophomore pianist Klara Lou. “It feels great to do that.”

None of this could be possible without the help and guidance of faculty advisor Gavin Drummond, who helps coordinate events, provides direction for the club, and performs the occasional show tune for entertainment during the service trips.

“I love music and I love playing the piano!” said Drummond. “[Becoming the faculty advisor] was a no-brainer. Being a musician has helped me to be ‘one of the gang’ with the other performers, and that’s fun. It would be like coaching but playing on the team, too.”

Drummond’s show tunes are just the beginning. With every visit, students offer a variety of musical genres and instruments, from classical music on the French horn to renditions of the latest musical hits.

The positive responses by the audiences, particularly the elderly, serve as the common denominator in all the visits. Audience members approach students after the performances, raving about how touching the music was, how it reminded them of their grandchild, and how much of a delight it was to experience the live music. All in all, the radiating positivity demonstrates the therapeutic quality of the live music experience provided by young people.

The experience not only offers a way to engage in active community service, but also provides an opportunity for students to become better performers. Although many students approached the prospect of the visits apprehensively, afterwards they expressed the impact of the ability to perform.

“The first time we went to the retirement home, I was surprised,” said Lou. “[I thought I had to] play something impressive. I was nervous and overwhelmed, but it [ended up being] really fun.”

The experience of performing for a large audience affected students in different ways. Some students expressed interest in the club with years of music study under their belts, while others viewed music as a hobby that was open to exploration through service. Nevertheless, performers were surprised by the informality of the visits.

“I thought [the trips] were really fun because they were low-key and there was no pressure, which made it better,” said junior violinist Samantha Long. “Each time you perform, it gets a little easier and a little less nerve-racking.”

The Music Service Club also provides a way to connect with students with similar interests from different grades and musical backgrounds, as well as through making acquaintances with elderly people and other audience members.

“[A reason why I joined the club] was that I wanted to meet new people,” said Lou. “It was really fun and something to do with friends. You get to meet people outside of Westminster, too.”

Because it is relatively new, the Music Service Club has room for growth and expansion, initiated by the students and leaders within the club.

“So far we’ve mostly played at retirement homes,” said Drummond, “but we have some different ideas quivering on the horizon.”

These ideas are limitless. Exposing people to the idea of musical aesthetic, teaching basic music lessons to underprivileged kids, and giving benefit concerts are a few of the ideas that will be developed throughout the year. Most importantly, students in the club hope to expand community involvement to have the most success and versatility possible.

The club’s progress can be attributed to community service coordinator Stan Moor.

“The Music Service Club has been a tremendous addition to our service program in general,” said Moor. “I hope that we get a more people involved it, because I know we’ve got tons of students who have all kinds of talent. We’re hoping this year to expand to after-school tutoring programs, and it’ll be great for those young children to see how important it is for kids their age to share their talents with other people.”