When Thanksgiving time arrived and conditions were still not safe enough for music students to give in-person performances, members of the Music Club refused to let COVID complications prevent them from pursuing the club’s established purpose: to perform, lead, and serve.
Among the service activities the Music Club and the Tri-M Music Honor Society typically participate in is their annual Thanksgiving dinner performance at the American Legion Post 31, a branch of the non-profit veterans’ organization in South Miami. Although the likelihood that this tradition could be upholded this year was slim, Assistant Music Director Samantha Tamayo still wanted the students to continue serving the community despite the changes. She pitched the idea of sending letters of gratitude, gift baskets, and pre-recorded performances to the veterans, and she says the club members were immediately on board.
Particularly involved in organizing the new Thanksgiving plans was junior Caroline Isom, a member of both the Music Club and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Isom and her family have had a long connection with the American Legion, with relatives who served in the Navy. Isom and about twenty other students participated in putting together the event, preparing the gifts and even recording a video of five pieces by the Jazz Combo in replacement of the usual in-person performance.
“We had to coordinate with parents and the President of the Post to work out the details, and the Jazz Combo spent some time choosing pieces to record,” said Isom. “It definitely wasn’t as complex of an operation as performing for [the veterans] in-person, but it took some coordination and communication.”
Tamayo also says that the relationship between the Legion and the Music Department has only grown over the two years the students have been performing there. “I was actually inspired by [Activities Director Danielle] Bowen’s initiative to send letters to veterans for Veterans Day through the school’s partnership with Operation Gratitude,” she said. “I feel overjoyed when students take initiative and pride in continuing Music Club traditions. It brings communities together to reconnect, especially during these difficult times.”
On Nov. 20, Isom and Tamayo presented the gifts to the President and the Commander of Post 31. The veterans were delighted to continue the holiday tradition, and members of both the Legion and the Music Club look forward to returning next year. While the experience may certainly have been different, it is one to represent that even during times of hardship and distance, there are always new opportunities to show gratitude and serve the community.