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Music Soothes The Soul by Fran Schwartz

Moral Compass: Artists Respond to Crises

Temple Judea Museum exhibition January – March 2021



We are all searching for ways to fill these long pandemic days, weeks and months.  Whether it is reading, exercising, watching TV, socializing outdoors, eating more than normal or visiting with family and friends by phone or on FaceTime.  The days seem long, but somehow the weeks and months are flying by with a long, dark winter of isolation facing us.

I am fortunate to have been given the gift of making music to add to the list of a daily routine.   Piano lessons began when I was only six years old, and I am fortunate that my octogenarian fingers are still working.  For the past fifty years my days were filled and my life enhanced by teaching piano, performing for adults and seniors and for over thirty years volunteering for my beloved Philadelphia Orchestra and being on the board of two chapters of the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association.

But the Covid pandemic has changed all that.  I am not adept with technology and so my teaching has been halted.  And, of course, I am not able to present my concerts with commentary for senior groups and health care facilities.  But I still can play the piano!

In June we moved from our home in Glenside where we had lived for forty-six years.  It was a two story, four-bedroom home with basement and attic and a large side garden and huge back grounds.  The sale of our house was in early March, and the inspection was on Friday, March 13th, the week-end everything shut down.  We are now living in Jenkintown at Rydal Waters and are thrilled to be living in a one story home in a community where we have social contact with our neighbors every day……socially distancing, of course.

And here is where the music comes to play – no pun intended.  We were able to bring our seven-foot concert grand piano, and I try to play every day.  The escape from daily boredom is a blessing.  But that is not enough.  Music should be shared.  And so on a beautiful September afternoon between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I presented a concert lecture for our new neighbors.   Close to twenty residents sat outside, spaced apart on our patio and back grass area, we opened the back door, and I played from the adjacent living room.   This was, I hope, a treat for them and was certainly a joy for me to be sharing my music again.

It must have been well received because I was then asked to perform for a team from the parent company of Rydal Park, Human Good, who were making a documentary featuring events that have been held during the Covid isolation.  My husband, Sid, and I were interviewed, mostly about how music has affected our lives, and I presented a shortened version of my previous concert for fourteen residents.  I am now, in November, preparing a Gershwin program that I hope to be able to perform in the Rydal Park auditorium in the near future.

I have always thought of my musical ability as a gift that was intended to be shared, and I am happy that I am able to do so in these difficult and complicated times.