The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, being thankful for food, warm clothing and a place to live—things some people take for granted. It is also a time to give back to others.
Established in 2011 by Long Island native Nikki Egna, Piano for Patients was started so that students could exercise their musical passions while giving back to the community. Brandon Buesching is the founder of the Massapequa chapter, as well as the Massapequa location leader.
“Piano for Patients is a mutual relationship,” said Buesching of the organization. “I had been performing at nursing homes since 2009, so when I heard about Piano for Patients, I immediately jumped on board. I sincerely believed that I could contribute my efforts to the cause and further the organization’s mission.”
The charitable organization allows members to perform for the community in various settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals and schools.
“The mission of the organization is to lift up people’s spirits and provide musical enjoyment for those who may need it,” said Buesching, whose role is to locate performance venues, recruit new members, secure donations and organize the events.
Piano for Patients recruits new members through word-of-mouth. Several of Buesching’s friends are pianists, all of which have joined his chapter.
“Members might have a friend who is also interested in joining and it continues to snowball,” he said. “Everyone is welcome to join the organization—regardless of skill level—and whether they are a pianist or not.”
Buesching’s chapter currently has six members—five pianists and a clarinet player.
“Our piece selection varies considerably, as each member can perform whatever he or she likes, whether it be classical, jazz, pop, show tunes, jingles, holiday music and everything in between,” said Buesching who always throws a few Beatles songs into his repertoire.
The Massapequa chapter currently has two “main sites” that they use for performances: the Broadlawn Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Amityville and the Nassau BOCES Carman Road School in Massapequa Park.
“Thanks to a piano donation, plans are currently underway to add a third performance location to the Massapequa chapter,” said Buesching.
Piano for Patients performs wherever there is a need for musical entertainment. While the holidays are a special time of year to come together and enjoy music, the organization performs year round.
“We normally have around 10 to 12 performances per year, and in December, we perform two holiday-themed shows, which is always something that I look forward to,” said Buesching. “It’s the perfect way to bring in the holiday season.”
Piano for Patients is promoted through numerous advertising outlets. According to Buesching, the organization has been highlighted in his piano teacher’s monthly newsletter, which is distributed to each of her students. It has also received attention at the high school level through recruitment efforts.
“Piano for Patients has also received significant media exposure. It has been covered on News 12, FiOs 1 News, and in a score of local newspapers,” said Buesching.
While the students love to perform, it is the patients who enjoy these special musical treats the most.
“The patients react positively each time we perform and at every performance, we manage to get a few of them to dance in their wheelchairs, sing along and even shout out requests,” said Buesching. “For instance, at one performance there was a Sound of Music enthusiast present who requested a song from the musical. One of our members performed ‘Edelweiss’ and I followed up with ‘My Favorite Things.’”
As for Buesching, he would like to assist Piano for Patients in becoming a nationwide organization. He currently attends the University at Buffalo and is looking into the possibility of starting a chapter there.
“The interaction that we experience with the patients is remarkable,” said Buesching. “I really enjoy what I do. It’s invigorating, comforting and truly special.”
The Piano for Patients holiday performance is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 20 at 11 a.m. at Broadlawn Nursing Home. For more information, visit www.pianoforpatients.org.