Jeannette Hunker ’23 received a Community Action Grant for the summer of 2020. Read her testimonial below about she brought music to her community. 

 

Headshot of Hunker

Jeannette Hunker ’23

This summer, my parents and I hosted two socially-distanced, outdoor concerts on our driveway for our neighbors and friends. Performing comes naturally for us; my mother is a violinist, and my dad is a bassoonist, pianist, guitarist, and music teacher. I have taken piano and voice lessons for several years and continue to do so at Scripps. For years, my family has hosted concerts in our home. However, once COVID hit, we had to rethink how to continue our passion in a safe way. Although my parents and I take credit for these concerts, it was initially the suggestion of my music-loving grandmother, who thought our neighbors would enjoy some live music and community in these difficult times.   

image of three Musicians standing together

Some musicians

It turns out my grandmother was right. After our first concert, performed on April 25th—my grandmother’s birthday—our neighbors showered us with compliments, thank-you notes, and gifts, as well as attention on social media. Two of our elementary-school neighbors wrote us a list of songs they wanted us to play on the next concert. We had a second concert in May, incorporating not just classical repertoire but other genres such as pop, musical theatre, folk, and jazz. We received tremendous support from audience members, who kept asking when our next concert would be.  

As we began preparing for more concerts, we considered the expenses. Our driveway was no concert hall on its own, and we knew it needed some decoration. The piano needed to be tuned. Also, we lacked proper audio and recording equipment. To accommodate the requests of our neighbors, we had a lot of music to order. Other costs, such as printing flyers and providing pre-packaged beverages for our guests, also had to be considered. I applied for the COVID Community Action Grant to fund one concert in July and one in August. 

Image of the concert

One of the performances

Thanks to our extended budget, we had money to buy fabric to make curtains and convert our garage into a stage. We could pay for a much-needed piano tuning. With a nice camera and the help of our neighbor, we recorded both concerts to share with our friends and family. Additionally, we expanded our audience with flyers we posted around the neighborhood and on social media. To enhance our guests’ experiences at the concerts, we provided pre-packaged snacks and bottled water.  

Throughout the process, we were careful to comply with health code regulations. We required everyone to bring their own seating and to wear a mask. We gave out prizes for the most creative face masks. Individuals and family units had to social distance. Although we advertised online, we purposefully limited it to limit attendance and allow guests to keep their distance.  

Image of two people playing guitar

One of the performances

This project was a significant learning experience for me. As a performer, I had been used to indoor concerts with audio-video experts taking care of the technical details. Now, my parents and I, none of us close to experts, had to figure out how to set up a functioning sound and lighting system in our garage. Fortunately, we had the help of our audio-expert neighbor. We had to be creative, using whatever lamps and extension cords we had around the house. Additionally, since my family bought more music, I learned several new songs. I bonded with neighbors I had rarely spoken to beforehand. Putting on these concerts taught me what is possible in an era that has severely hindered performing arts. In a time of distancing and restriction, it only takes some creativity to foster beauty and build community.