Friday, February 25, 2011

Sixth Graders Provide Live Music for Beverly Seniors

By Alyssa M. Baxter
(courtesy photo)
Gordon College News Service
February 23, 2011
(This story appeared March 4 in The Salem News, and March 7 in The Boston Globe, Beverly site.)

BEVERLY, MA—About 100 sixth graders are giving 100 senior citizens something to sing about. On March 10th—just in time for St. Patrick’s Day—the children of Beverly’s Briscoe Middle School band and chorus will perform a free concert for seniors at the Beverly Council on Aging at 90 Colon Street.

“We are the post-lunch entertainment,” said Mr. Adam Costa, 29, and Briscoe’s band director for the past seven years. “There will be a broad range of styles for the audience to enjoy.”

The seniors will hear songs such as Hot Fudge Sundae, a 1950’s throwback with a retro feel, which the kids love because of the name, according to Costa. They’ll also perform Incantation and Ritual, a serious epic piece, among others, said Costa.

“The music uplifts the spirits of seniors; it is a bright spot in their day,” said Mary Ann Holak, ’72 graduate of Beverly High School and director of Beverly Council on Aging, whose seventh-grade daughter performed last year. “To see the young people triggers memories for them.”

 The band and chorus visit the Council twice a year for a holiday concert in December and a St. Patrick’s concert in March as part of the district’s “Music in the Schools Month,” a tradition that started before Costa came to Briscoe, he said. Not only do the students provide live entertainment, but they also serve the seniors home made cookies they bring with them.

“This is a great opportunity for the seniors to see how our students are trying to serve the community,” said Principal Matthew Poska.

Holak’s daughter, Kayla, 12, a member of the band, said it was good to provide live music for the seniors. But Holak also believed her daughter’s anxiety about performing was taken away because she played in front of such a friendly audience.

“At each concert there are at least a half dozen instances where people in the audience will approach me or a student and thank them, saying how they really appreciate it or explain how they used to sing in their music programs when they were younger,” Costa said.  “It is really cool for them to make a connection to what they used to be a part of.”

Many grandparents come out especially for this event because their grandchildren are performing said Kendra Seavey, the Activities Coordinator at BCOA. “You can see the huge smiles on their faces because of how proud they are of them,” she said.

Holak remembers one instance where a grandmother pushed a great-grandmother in a wheelchair from Ledgewood (a Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center on Herrick Street), to the concert to see their grandson and great-grandson perform.

“We offered them a ride back in one of our vans and they gladly accepted,” Holak said. “But it is stories like that, which are so genuine and real, that are the best part of my job.”

The free concert will begin at 12 noon and end at 1:00 P.M. with lunch served at 11:30 A.M. for two dollars.

“The more the schools encourage this type of community service, the better it is for all of us in Beverly,” said Holak.

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