GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Academy Madrigals will be on tour in the community spreading Christmas cheer for several organizations and nursing homes in Gallia County in what has become a bit of a tradition for the group.
Performances will be between Dec. 14 and 19 as the group visits several places including Guiding Hand School, Holzer Senior Care, Assisted Living, Holzer Center for Cancer Care and Abbyshire.
“The idea behind it is just to give back to the people that have given to us,” said Nattalie Phillips, vocal music director at Gallia Academy High School.
Phillips explained that the primary purpose of these trips is for students to gain a new perspective.
“We are very tunnel vision here at the school. We do the same thing every morning. We get up, come to school, complete a routine, go home and do it all again,” said Phillips. “We don’t see a lot or experience a lot unless you happen to be from a walk of life that’s not so easy.”
By going to nursing homes, students are exposed to people living very different lives from themselves, both young and senior. Phillips recalled a story of a Christmas tour several years ago which focused on an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s Disease and her daughter who was a nurse at the home where the senior woman resided. The resident had not spoken in two years.
“She (the nurse) said I would give anything to hear my mom speak again. So, we got to singing carols and got to Silent Night and the lady that hadn’t spoken in two years started singing along,” said Phillips. “That’s proof that music taps into a part of the brain that nothing else does. You may not remember and you may not be aware of your current situation, but music is something that is muscle memory.”
Phillips still remembers the emotional response of all in the room, hearing the woman sing along after remaining silent for two years.
Another perspective Phillips hopes students see is the joy of a resident when they get a visitor. One year, the group sang for an older gentleman and the Madrigals were his only visitors that entire year.
“When we go and sing, it’s more than just Christmas carols,” said Phillips. “One man begged, begged us to stay because he hadn’t had a visitor all year. That’s the reality of the Christmas season.”
Phillips’ hope of brightening the holidays for local nursing home residents coincides directly with her intent to broaden her students perspectives.
Phillips welcomes invitations to come and sing anywhere. To inquire about having the Madrigals come and perform, she can be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling her directly at 740-446-6494.
“Anyone that would be interested in scheduling us for a gig, we would love to come out and perform and give back,” said Phillips.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342.