Music With a Purpose

Melodies for Remedies performs for isolated seniors and patients


@melodiesforremedies Instagram

“[Music is] a place to vent my feelings and… a great way to soothe others,” Melodies for Remedies founder, Grace Sun (’23) explained. The club has performed online and in-person with volunteers like Joseph Aguilar (’22) throughout the pandemic.

Clare Malhotra, Editor-in-Chief

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” -Victor Hugo and the Melodies for Remedies website

In March of 2020, pizzerias closed and Bishop’s students flocked onto Zoom. We found ourselves in a state of limbo: unaware when case numbers would begin falling. But while many of us were able to leave our houses for socially-distanced gatherings or eventual hybrid school, some people—high risk individuals like seniors or the ill—remained isolated, often lonely. To help relieve some of these struggles, Grace Sun (‘23) created a club: Melodies for Remedies.

Grace formed the nonprofit with the aim of connecting hospitals and senior homes with music and performing arts. The organization holds online monthly concerts, during which an array of musicians, dancers, and singers will perform. Accompanying songs range from classical to popular to holiday-themed, and have been performed both in solos and in groups.

“Everyone was isolated, especially those living in senior homes, hospitals, and family care centers,” Grace explained. “I thought that amidst our isolation, I could take action to possibly continue to maintain relationships, albeit virtual, with those around us.”

Studies have shown that quarantine and the resulting feelings of loneliness increased the risk of dementia nearly 50% in seniors. “Their family members and friends could not visit them, and I felt pity when I saw their vulnerability, including [that of] my grandparents,” Grace said. She hoped to improve the mental health of these adults while staying physically safe through social distancing.

Melodies for Remedies has also served as a way for Bishop’s students to reconnect with music. Senior Paul Madany, Vice President of the club, said that he “hadn’t played piano for two years.” However, his love for piano was rekindled at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, when one of his friends inspired him to start playing again. “I learned piece after piece that I had always wanted to play, and Melodies for Remedies gave me a chance to share them.”

He explained that volunteering for the club has been a rewarding experience. “I had the opportunity to have a positive impact during COVID, while also having the incentive to sophisticate my piano playing for concerts,” he said.

Grace said that her love of music was also a part of her excitement about creating the club. “During the COVID-19 lockdown… all of my recitals and performances were canceled,” she said. “Without a stage, I felt lost as well as my peer musicians… [music is] a place to vent my feelings and… a great way to soothe others.” 

More recently, the club has started offering in-person and hybrid performances to make the concerts a little more engaging for the audience. “You connect more with the people watching and get to meet them sometimes,” Novalyne Petreikis (‘23), who plays the cello and participated avidly in the club throughout the pandemic, explained.

Grace Sun also said she enjoyed the in-person format. “Hearing the applause [and] seeing the joy on the seniors’ faces… [helped] us truly appreciate the chance we got to perform,” she said.

Seniors and other viewers have expressed their gratitude for Melodies for Remedies and the joy that the music and performances provide. Grace recalled that one resident of Chateau La Jolla, a senior home tuned in to online concerts, wrote to them, “I’m circulating the link, what lovely music!!! I even sent it to my family!!” 

“All the elderly are so sweet and they’re always super appreciative and in awe,” Novalyne said. 

Bhadra Rupesh (‘24), who is the club’s website manager and has experience with piano, violin, and Indian and western singing, also commented on the audience interaction. “The most heartwarming moments are when some of the people in the audience recognize a song and start singing along,” she said.

Melodies for Remedies boasts an active presence on Instagram while maintaining a YouTube channel, onto which they upload recordings of some of their performances. 

As Bishop’s returned to on-campus classes and activities, the club was able to perform in other ways around campus. For example, they partnered with the Global Education Initiative parent group’s international potluck dinner. “When we celebrate cultures, two fundamental aspects to all people are food and the arts,” Grace explained.By uniting others under these common aspects of every culture that we celebrate, we could increase appreciation for both international cultural awareness as well as recognizing our performing arts students.”

Melodies for Remedies has expanded to performing for hospitals and senior homes in Virginia and Hawaii. “Some of the extended friends and family of one of the senior home directors asked to view our concerts,” Grace explained when asked why she chose those states in particular. “I certainly did not want to limit the healing power of music to only San Diego and California residents.” 

The club has continued to thrive during lulls in the pandemic and hope to continue with outreach. “We currently have student [volunteers] from over 6 states in the US,” Grace said. “We hope that we can increase the number of performers living in other countries.” 

She also explained that they’d like to partner with similar organizations and increase fundraising efforts. “All in all, we hope that this cause reaches as many people as possible.”