By Chelsie Derman
Arts & Entertainment Editor
For the first time since the shutdown, the College Pep Band held their first in-person performance on May 2 at Greenwood House Senior Healthcare, the local nursing home.
Earlier this semester, the pep band performed virtually for the Greenwood House residents. While the residents were overjoyed, the initial intention for the event back then was for the band to perform in person in order to cheer up the residents. That wasn’t possible in early March, but now with the warmer weather and the fact Pep Band now had musician masks and bell covers to safely perform, Pep Band could finally turn this idea into a reality.
“Making the event possible was definitely a lot of work,” said Amulya Vijapurapu, president of the College Pep Band and a junior psychology major. “Around mid-April, the nursing home reached out again asking for an in-person event, and that was when I knew I had to make it possible. I had to have that in-person event for them. So, we started by figuring out with our members and the nursing home when the best time for us to come would be.”
After sending emails to other performance clubs for potential co-sponsors and getting approval from Student Involvement, Pep Band could finally make this event happen.
“Then, we had to figure out what Pep Band was going to perform. Greenwood House was looking for us to perform for at least 15 minutes at four locations on their campus, so we met in person for rehearsal and I had us run through some songs,” Vijapurapu said. “I chose songs that were appropriate for our audience, and based on that I figured out what we sounded good playing and what needed more work.”
At 11:30 a.m. on the event day, the College’s Pep Band e-board arrived on the campus, ready to prepare for the long and exciting day ahead of them. They loaded their percussion equipment — and other equipment they might have needed — into their various cars. Their two co-sponsors, American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and Synergy, arrived at noon. After everyone passed their green health pass inspection, everything was all ready to go to head to the nursing home.
At the event, the Greenwood House nursing home greeted the students with a giant welcome flag and a huge banner, showing their gratitude for the College students for coming in to perform.
“Seeing all of the flags and banners upon arrival made me so happy. I was literally smiling ear to ear under my mask and I could not stop smiling,” Vijapurapu said. “It was amazing to see that they cared so much for us that they were willing to go through all of the trouble of having a custom banner printed for us and hanging up all of the welcome banners along the entrance. It was so heartwarming to see that we were loved so much before we even performed and that someone was willing to do all that for us.”
The actual event began at 1:30 p.m. Residents sat on chairs or in wheelchairs with pom-poms in four different locations around the nursing home. While Pep Band would play in one location, ASTA would play in another while Synergy would dance in another. The students tried to make sure the residents did not have to wait too long in the hot sun for each group to arrive at their particular location.
Pep Band played five songs for the other three locations, two other courtyards and at a parking lot by the fire lane, in the same order. The residents appeared to love the performance, shaking their pom-poms in the air during the show.
“The residents were smiling and cheering during our event… one location was so happy we were performing for them that they made signs that said ‘we love Pep Band’ and held them up while we played,” Vijapurapu said. “All of the residents had such a positive reaction and were clapping, smiling and cheering after every song. They thanked us so much for being there, and I even saw some of them moving a little to the music. They loved us and showed us so much love and positive energy while we were there and it was so amazing to see.”
The vice president of Pep Band shared his thoughts about the event.
“It’s been well over a year since us musicians have been able to share our music in a live setting, and it was very refreshing to be able to do it again,” said Ryan Haupt, a junior music education major. “There’s a world of difference between hearing the Pep Band over a virtual performance that has been edited together, versus sharing our sound in-person. It was really rewarding to be able to see and hear the praise from a live audience as well.”
This event overall went smoothly, according to Vijapurapu.
“My favorite part was seeing how happy our music made the nursing home residents,” she said. “Seeing them smile, cheer, laugh, and wave their pom-poms as a result of our music was so heartwarming and I would not replace that feeling for anything in the world.”