V.com weekend vote: Have you played a community outreach concert in the last year?

June 15, 2017, 9:51 PM · I've heard many stories lately from Violinist.com readers who have donated their time to play for people in need -- for the sick, elderly, homeless, those in jail or for at-risk school children.

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Just this week, University of Texas Violin Professor Brian Lewis described outreach concerts he did as a student with Juilliard's Gluck Community Service Fellowship; and Violinist.com member Alexander Strachen described playing for Alzheimers patients, after previously describing performing for Hospice patients. Earlier this year, Chattanooga Symphony Concertmaster Holly Mulcahy blogged about performing a concert for prison inmates. Longtime member and LA Phil violinist Vijay Gupta has been recognized for his arduous work as founder and director of Street Symphony, a program that brings live music to the mentally ill, poor, homeless and incarcerated in Los Angeles.

Every performer who described such concerts also shared something in common: they found these experiences to be deeply meaningful.

It's not always easy to carve out time for the basics, much less outreach performances. But playing for those in need often can be more rewarding than playing a high-profile gig, and it can help put many other things in perspective. Sometimes, it's as simple as finding something close-to-home, like playing at a relative's care facility, or at a food bank through your own church. I'd like us to share stories about doing such performances, just to get everyone thinking about this kind of work. Is it something you have done in the past? Something you do regularly? Is there something you could plan to do in the coming year? Please participate in the vote below, and then share your thoughts.

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June 16, 2017 at 07:23 AM · Dear Laurie,

So happy to have stumbled on this article that you wrote. Quite recently I have toured with the Ricciotti Ensemble (from the Netherlands). This orchestra playes at places where you usually don't see orchestra's perform. For example: in hospitals, schools, prisons and so on. Like you mentioned in your article, this experience was very meaningful to me. I wrote an article about it on my shared blog, so I will put the link underneath to share this experience with you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


June 16, 2017 at 09:30 AM · I periodically conscript a friend or colleague and play at one of the local care facilities. It's a nice low stress environment.

June 16, 2017 at 03:27 PM · Performed briefly at a seniors' care home some five years ago. I have also performed several times at a local church on behalf of the pastor (if that even counts), but that's about it.

June 16, 2017 at 05:23 PM · Each year I lead a group of young students from STEP, the Suzuki group that I teach with, in a holiday concert at a local Alzheimer's home. I like having that opportunity to introduce the kids to this idea of outreach, and I do love that the patients, many of whom have lost so much of their memory, often will song or clap along.

I do think I should look for more such opportunities!

June 16, 2017 at 08:03 PM · For the sick and elderly, yes!

June 16, 2017 at 09:12 PM · We're in the process of planning to play at a local Aged Care home later this year. I've read so many things on how music help the elderly and particularly those with dementia.

June 16, 2017 at 10:16 PM · For the past 3 years, I've been playing every Sunday at the assisted living facility across from my church. Normally we just do hymns, (I play and they sing along) but sometimes I will play something I'm working on. All of us look forward our time on Sunday mornings, If I miss Sunday, I hear about it the next week! Some of my older friends there are dealing with poor health and some have passed during the time I have been playing. The experience is one that I would recommend; It makes you grow as a person.

My Mom is in an assisted living facility about 3 hours away. I try to get down with my violin once a month or more. Mom really loves it when I play my violin there. She should, she sacrificed quite a lot to make sure I had lessons. It's probably the single best thing that was ever done for me.

June 17, 2017 at 12:04 AM · How nice, to do that every week!

June 17, 2017 at 04:49 AM · In the community orchestra I play in, we perform a selection from our winter concert at a local elementary school. This year one of the pieces we played for them was Peter and The Wolf by Prokofiev. Maestro knew a guy who had a domesticated pet wolf. He came with his wolf and the kids loved it. It is always fun performing for little kids.

June 17, 2017 at 08:37 AM · Laurie

I never really intended to play every week, It just kind of happened. As an adult with a professional job, I really tried to get a teacher, but I never could make it work out. I still wanted to play and this is a way to kill a couple of birds with one stone. I think I will try to keep this up for a while. Some days are great and everybody is clicked in at the assisted living facility, other days are not as great. That's OK with me, I feel the same way some days.

June 17, 2017 at 11:47 AM · Teenagers could probably build up the service-volunteer-leadership components of their pre-college CVs doing this.

June 18, 2017 at 03:00 AM · I'm not good enough to play for anybody, but, besides a few local saloons and my front porch, these are exactly the venues I look forward to playing: convalescent homes, rehab centers, senior centers, hospitals, jails.... I'll never be virtuosic, I'll probably never even be very orchestral, my classical (especially baroque) spirit will always also include old country and bluegrass and especially gospel music rooted in the rustic...I can't wait to bring smiles and joy where its needed most!

June 18, 2017 at 03:51 AM · My primary orchestra, The Reno Pops Orchestra, has a group play once a month at a dining room for homeless and needy. They're always appreciative, as are the staff, especially during the winter holidays when we play carols. Otherwise, Beatles music is always popular.

June 19, 2017 at 05:22 PM · I played duets with my mother on the piano, back when she was at the Alzheimer's unit at the Assisted Living home. All the other people there would follow us to the living room to listen. They loved it.

My church has an outing down to Boston to the homeless shelter. We pack up our instruments, take the church van down and perform light classical for the people there. They are so appreciative of hearing "real violins?" it makes my day!!

We also bring new socks for them. We all like new socks!!!

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