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College Pep Band lifts spirits of local nursing home residents

By Chelsie Derman
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Pep Band led a virtual event on Sunday, Mar. 7 at 2 p.m. with a local nursing home — Greenwood House — in hopes of cheering up the residents. In the time of Covid-19, residents have had little in-person interaction with their loved ones or contact with the outside world.

“Back in January or February, the nursing home actually reached out to us and asked us if we could do some kind of event for them in person,” said Amulya Vijapurapu, president of the College Pep Band and junior psychology major. 

Because of the pandemic, Vijapurapu decided to postpone the event. However, she said even if they tried to hold the event in-person back in February, there would have been complications.

“As much as we wanted to go in person, it was really difficult because we didn’t have any of the safety protocols in place yet, so we didn’t have the musician masks for the club members,” Vijapurapu said. “We didn’t have any bell covers, and it was also February, so it would’ve been really cold. We would have had to perform outside because of Covid, so that would not have gone over well for any of us.”

(Photo Courtesy of Greenwood House/ Sherry Smith)

Greenwood House, even though originally wanting to do the event in-person, was still prepared and ready to do a virtual event.

“We had to be creative when Covid hit,” said Neil Wise, Greenwood House’s director of development. “Everyone was in lockdown. We had to find ways through the virtual world to entertain our residents. And not just to entertain them, but to be in touch with their family members.”

Director of Marketing Sherry Smith added that in Greenwood House there have been a lot of Zooms and video calls for residents to talk to family members. With everything being virtual this past year, Smith explained that they were also doing virtual fundraising — he thought, why can’t there be events for both fundraising and entertainment?

The event turned out to be a success — music was played via Zoom and nursing home residents were engaged. 

“Oh, it was phenomenal, it was absolutely beautiful,” Smith said. “It was absolutely entertaining, enjoyable and they’re very talented, and it definitely made the day beautiful for the residents that have been in lockdown for over a year now. So it was wonderful.”

The afternoon began with a pre-recorded video of the College Pep Band performing “Land of a 1000 Dances” by Wilson Pickett. The video showed all of the students in Pep Band performing in their own homes, playing various instruments stretching from trombones to drums to the clarinet.

The next performance was from one of Pep Band members, Ethan Kaiser, a sophomore political science major, and the librarian of the club. He performed “Jupiter” by Gustav Holst on clarinet, a song with a tranquil melody, and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5,” which was quiet and had the feel as if you stepped into a peaceful night.

The hour continued and roughly ten students performed altogether. About five members performed solos live and the rest pre-recorded their tracks.

Display of the residents at the nursing home during the Pep Band event (Photo Courtesy of Greenwood House/ Sherry Smith).

Pep Band included several videos of the whole Pep Band performing songs, such as the song of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” written by Dr. Jose Bevia, a music theory professor at the College, and “Ghostbusters,” by Ray Parker Jr. In their “Ghostbusters” performance, recorded during Halloween-time, students wore different halloween costumes such as ghosts, dogs and snowmen, which brought a little character onto the screen.

From pianos to clarinets to singing, each music piece had a distinctive feel. This partly has to do with the fact that Pep Band, for this event, sponsored with American String Teachers of America (ASTA) and Trentones, the acapella group on campus.

“We originally were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to truly make this event good for the residents, so in order to kind of prepare, to make sure that our audience would be big, we reached out to other music organizations for co-sponsorships,” Vijapurapu said. “So I know we reached out to ASTA and Trentones, and they’re both going to be our co-sponsors. I think a big part of the preparation was making sure that we had people that were going to fill our audience, that we’re going to fill up the performance slots, and also to have a variety of different music, [instead of] just being strictly band instrumental music.”

Ultimately, Vijapurapu explained why, even though they could not make an in-person event possible back in February for safety reasons, she was determined in seeing this event come through.

“I didn’t want to turn [the nursing home] down because we really did want to help,” Vijapurapu said. “We wanted to help uplift the spirits of the residents. So I came up with the idea of maybe doing some kind of virtual event for them where we could still fulfill the same purpose. It’s just like playing music for them, and trying to brighten their spirits with music, but moving it to more of an online platform so that we could it safely, and so we can still accomplish the same mission as well.”

Junior music education major and vice president of Pep Band, Ryan Haupt, shared how glad he was that they sponsored the event.

“It’s been fantastic that we got this opportunity to play for the residents and to play for ourselves because it’s so rare nowadays to get the opportunity to perform for others, in this world of Zoom space and regulation,” said Haupt.

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