Giving back to the community - What can we do musically?

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Oct 02, 2006 7:17 am

Although I suppose there are some who would disagree with this statement, I think that most of the people, teachers and students, who post here would agree with the idea that all of us have a responsibility as caring human beings to give of ourselves to our communities. While giving money to various causes is valuable and important, what can we do from a musical standpoint to serve our communities, particularly those who are less fortunate than us and may not have or be able to afford exposure to good music and lessons?

Over several years of reading and administering the Board, I have seen many good examples of community service by pianists and teachers described in other threads. With the holidays rapidly approaching, I'm hoping that more descriptions of what all of us do for others musically will both give good ideas to readers and help motivate them to do more in their own towns and cities. Since we have members from all over the world, I expect that we'll get a lot of good and fresh ideas. At a minimum, I think we'll all enjoy hearing the about the positive impact that others have on their communities, outside of paid lessons. So, tell us what you do to help others share the joy of music and piano! :)




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Postby Stretto » Thu Oct 05, 2006 8:17 pm

How about playing the piano or giving a student recital at the community senior center? Perhaps they don't have pianos but one could take a keyboard over.

Another idea I just started with my students is that for every week they meet a practice requirement of a certain number of days practiced per week, $1 out of the lesson fee will go in a jar and students will make a list of suggested places to donate the money. Every month or two, the money will go to one of the places the students have suggested with the money going to a different student's suggested place each time.
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Postby Glissando88keys » Fri Oct 06, 2006 2:54 am

Stretto wrote:How about playing the piano or giving a student recital at the community senior center? Perhaps they don't have pianos but one could take a keyboard over.

Many community senior centers do, indeed, have a piano, as well as many assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and even some hospitals.

Elders love to hear their favorites, and particularly enjoy when their requests of "oldies but goodies," patriotic, or show tunes are honored.

The elders I play for at various facilities would not complain if I played all day long, in fact the the longer I play, the better. Sometimes they request their favorites, over and over, and don't seem to mind repetition of songs in the least.

I bring my keyboard to seniors who choose to remain in their own homes, and who enjoy not only the music, but the company.

One of the most touching experiences is to connect with an elder with dementia. Suddenly, they "perk up" and become very animated, and their awareness level increases. Its amazing how many lyrics they remember.
:D

Stretto, I think a student recital at the community center is a terrific idea for students and elders, alike. Students get much needed practice in performance, and elders just love the company of youngsters, of course.

The entertainment makes it a very special occasion, however I think the most valuable aspect of this arrangement is the joy, understanding and relationship-building of such an event. Youngsters miss the companionship and sense of continuity offered by elders, just as much as seniors, who miss the opportunity to guide and enjoy the young in this very isolating society in which we live. A student recital can alleviate the loneliness felt by both young and old and music would be the bridge to unite us. This is a win-win scenario! :D




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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Oct 10, 2006 12:47 pm

Thanks Glissando and Stretto for your ideas. Performances at senior centers and donating a part of the lesson fee to charity are both excellent ideas. Here are a few more that we have used:

Computers are so prevalent and important for students these days that it's hard to comprehend that many kids (parents) can't afford one. Because older computers, along with printers, can be obtained so cheaply at garage sales, along with the software, it's easy to provide a used computer to a deserving student, along with music software. This usually costs under $20. You'll help the student not only in piano lessons, but in school as well.

Give pre-holidays music appreciation lessons. These are good publicity tools and usually bring in students. They're also a lot of fun.

Provide short-term scholarships for lessons to deserving students who can't afford them. 3 or 4 free lessons might be enough to persuade a student's parents to find a way to pay for them. If not, you have done the student a favor and given yourself a tax deduction.

Visit schools and give short performances or lessons. Most schools appreciate them, so long as they are arranged in advance.

Extend invitations to deserving groups or students to attend your studio holiday recital.

These are just a few ideas. There are lots more (and probably better) ideas out there, so let's hear them! :D
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Postby Mins Music » Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:52 pm

Write an article for PEP!
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:42 am

Mins Music wrote:Write an article for PEP!

I have written an article on "extras" that teachers can provide their students, which has a few ideas readily adaptable to charity situations. Unfortunately, that is now only available in full text on the PEP CD. I have also posted a number of those ideas here on the Board in another thread, from which that article was derived.

I don't get the sense that many people here on the Board care much about these issues of giving back to the community, given the limited amount of response to this and related threads. I don't mean to sound negative or critical in saying that, but, rather, to point out that time and financial constraints on teachers, students and parents may make giving back to the community a secondary priority. If that's the case, then there probably isn't much point in writing an article that few will read or care about. I'm also concerned that my individual viewpoint may not be as useful as a series of different ideas from our good Members all around the world. Thus, if it looks like there is some interest and we can get some broader input, I may proceed with an article later. Thanks for your suggestion. :)
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Postby Stretto » Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:53 pm

Sometimes in giving back to the community it's a matter of not being able to match those willing to help in some way with those needing the help or involvement.

What I mean is there may be those out there willing to help in some way that aren't aware of what is needed for example who to contact while there may be some group or person in need of some help or involvement from musicians but don't know of any to ask. Sometimes it may be a matter of getting the right people in contact with each other.

A few more ideas I can add is volunteering to lead the music at a vacation bible school, or to play the piano for school performances and plays, teach music at a coop-preschool, see if a small church that can't afford to pay a pianist needs someone to play for church services. I'll keep thinking to see if I come up with more ideas.

One other point is there sometimes can be conflicts when working with others on a community project where the person in charge wanting everything done a certain way and those willing to help offering suggestions and ideas while those "running the show" shoot down every suggestion or idea the "helpers" present. So there needs to be a little give and take sometimes or those that are there to help might not be as interested in helping if their imput or ideas are not considered. Otherwise those that are their to help have to be willing to "follow the given plan". At any rate it is often not always easy when working together with others if there's someone in the mix not willing to bend a little.




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Postby Mins Music » Mon Oct 30, 2006 6:06 pm

If that's the case, then there probably isn't much point in writing an article that few will read or care about.


No no no no .... my fault! I've been writing such longwinded posts these days I thought I'd try my hand at minimalism. What I meant to say was:

If a teacher would like to give back to the community, they could get in touch with you Dr John, find out what is needed on PEP, and sit down and write an article that thousands of people can read and benefit from. "Write an article" was meant to be a way a teacher - or parent or student -can give back to the community. The 'community' doesn't have to consist of down and outers with no money, homes or pianos :D but can mean the general public - or in this case, the piano public!!! You don't get paid for writing articles, and it takes a bit of time and effort, but after you do and it's up for all to read, you feel pretty good that you've done something that may help someone else. So my suggestion for giving back to the community was to start by giving back to THIS community! Find out what help is needed, you may just be the PERFECT person to write something insightful.

Hope that makes more sense! Dr John, you do a remarkable job on this site and I know you don't get paid a single cent - but you give of your time and energy and expertise. Never think that just because people aren't posting they aren't reading or they aren't caring.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:40 pm

Mins Music wrote:Hope that makes more sense! Dr John, you do a remarkable job on this site and I know you don't get paid a single cent - but you give of your time and energy and expertise. Never think that just because people aren't posting they aren't reading or they aren't caring.

Thanks for the clarification and the plug, Mins! I completely misinterpreted what you were saying. I appreciate your urging people to write for the site - as you have written for it so effectively so many times. :cool:

I was motivated to put this thread in Topic of Note because I know teachers and students contribute in all sorts of ways to their communities outside of the good they do in paid lessons. I suspect some people maybe uncomfortable in talking about their community service work, but what could be better than having someone else expand the good you have done to their own communities? The only way they can do that is if readers of Topic tell us how they help their communities. Nobody here will think ill of or resent anyone for posting good ideas - either here or as articles on the main part of PEP.




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Postby Glissando88keys » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:38 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:I was motivated to put this thread in Topic of Note because I know teachers and students contribute in all sorts of ways to their communities outside of the good they do in paid lessons. I suspect some people maybe uncomfortable in talking about their community service work, but what could be better than having someone else expand the good you have done to their own communities? The only way they can do that is if readers of Topic tell us how they help their communities. Nobody here will think ill of or resent anyone for posting good ideas - either here or as articles on the main part of PEP.

Dr. Z., I would not have even thought of mentioning my community work were it not for your thoughtful and timely suggesion and this thread on the forum. Not being one to boast or brag or even bring up my community activities, I do appreciate the opportunity to mention those activities in an effort to share ideas with others who desire to better serve their communities.

Just this past week, The Acting Company performed at the Yuba City Fairgrounds for a special benefit concert to raise funds for the HeadStart program. I was privledged to rehearse, on keyboard, and accompany, the troupe for this special event. Tickets cost $75 per seat, for a sold - out audience of 500 guests. Well, without doing the math, that's a whole lot of money to help out a very valuable community resource that is constantly in need of funds. We have been asked to tape a preview of the show's Finale to air on a local cable T.V. station to advertise. One of this week's performances will also be another fund - raising event, with proceeds donated to benefit another worthy charity.

I realize that it may be hard for individual teachers to incorporate this idea, however, maybe the charge of a fee for a special fund - raising recital to be donated to a local/ charitible organization in need of funding would attract and bring together those whose service to community could be both monetary and / or non - monetary, while encouraging and instilling a sense of community service to students who participate.

The student's participation in the event would motivate them to practice harder, because of the added incentive a charity recital would provide. A teacher who might undertake such a commmittment would serve as a welcome and valuable community resouce, while making a name for her/himself in the community.

Networking with local community organizations could help a teacher locate and recruit others willing to organize, sponsor, and advertise such an event. Perhaps a group of individual music, dance and theater teachers in the area could collaborate and contribute their collective talents to a Super Recital or Talent Showcase, organized for the benefit of the community. The possibilities are dauntless, but endless. :D




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Postby Glissando88keys » Mon Nov 06, 2006 6:06 pm

Stretto wrote:One other point is there sometimes can be conflicts when working with others on a community project where the person in charge wanting everything done a certain way and those willing to help offering suggestions and ideas while those "running the show" shoot down every suggestion or idea the "helpers" present. So there needs to be a little give and take sometimes or those that are there to help might not be as interested in helping if their imput or ideas are not considered. Otherwise those that are their to help have to be willing to "follow the given plan". At any rate it is often not always easy when working together with others if there's someone in the mix not willing to bend a little.

In the spirit of collaboration, I feel the best route to successfully interact with a group is for every member's input and suggestion to be acknowledged, considered and respected, even if their idea seems ridiculous, eccentric or way off base.

The practice of brainstorming is based on the principal and knowledge of group dynamics, or how individuals and groups operate effectively, successfully, productively, and proactively to accomplish a goal or goals. :)

Of course, things don't always go according to plan, however when these principals are practiced, the results are most often better than expected! :D
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Postby Emily Wyatt » Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:51 pm

I bring my Celtic Harp to one of the local nursing homes and sing... especially in the Alzheimer's unit. This is extremely popular. "My Wild Irish Rose" never fails to evoke memories and usually someone singing along.

I came every other week and played background music on the piano during the lunch hour at a veteran's home. The staff seemed to enjoy it as much as the residents.

In my experience, having recitals for students in a nursing home setting isn't a great idea, for the childrens's sake. At least, let them play there, but let it be in addition to the 'big recital', for this reason: playing in that setting is extremely difficult for some people. Children who aren't used to old folks or the often depressing atmosphere can find it hard to play. When someone groans--loudly--the entire time they're playing, it can really scare them. Even with preparation.

When I do this, I try to make it clear that we are giving a gift, and discuss the situations that can arise (Panic buttons being pushed, intercom, phone, groaning, hysterical laughing) in a calm, "this-is-normal" sort of way.

Sorry, those last two paragraphs are a bit off-topic. Another thing I love to do and that contributes to the community is accompanying. Highschoolers for festival, choirs for competition, etc. I love being the enabler and bringing a sense of ease and confidence into the situation.
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