While most teens spent their summer going to the beach, 17 year-old John. F. Kennedy High School senior Shari Paltrowitz instead spent her summer assembling young musicians interested in serving a good cause.
Playback is a musical ensemble group recently started by Paltrowitz that plays shows for senior citizens. Paltrowitz herself is an instrumentalist who has been into making music for about 10 years.
“I’ve played piano since I was in second grade,” she said. “I played clarinet for a few years, but now my main instrument is the bassoon. I’ve been playing it for a few years now.”
Paltrowitz is a part of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Long Island, All-County as part of Kennedy’s music program and has even toured throughout Europe playing concerts.
Paltrowitz said that she and her friends love to get together and play music. This lead to an interesting idea on her part- that perhaps she and her friends could use their musical talents to do some good in their community.
“My grandparents really enjoy when I play for them, so I thought it would be nice to play for other people’s grandparents as well,” Paltrowitz said. “So I thought, it would be a good idea to perform for seniors who really use the enjoyment. It would be really worthwhile for us.”
Currently, Playback clocks in at about 40 members, consisting of players of string, wood wind, and brass instruments, as well as several singers. And while some of them are Paltrowitz’s fellow Kennedy students, others she recruited elsewhere, such as the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and music summer camp.
“Over the summer, right after school ended, I messaged people separately, through Facebook and texts,” she said. “When I got enough people together, we all got together so we could figure out our next step.”
The next step was playing live; Playback held their first performance recently at The Bristal Assisted Living Facility of Massapequa, playing a mix of classical music and older popular tunes geared towards their audience.
Judging by the enthusiastic response of the appreciative seniors, Playback’s debut was clearly a huge success.
“The best thing about it was that the seniors were tapping their feet during some of our pieces,” she said. “And when we were done, some of them struggled a little bit, but they made it from the back of the room and came over to thank us. They really enjoyed it.”
The sky’s the limit for where Playback goes from here, but one thing is for certain- it’s something that Paltrowitz wants to stick with and cultivate for a long time to come.
“It would be great to have performances every two to three weeks,” she said. “I will definitely be doing this throughout the entire year. And even if I go off to college, I will still be scheduling them over breaks, or I might pass it down to someone who’s younger than I am who can continue it. It won’t die.”
Playback’s next performance will be on Oct. 21 at 2:15 p.m. at The Atria Tanglewood in Lynbrook.
Have you seen Playback perform? Tell us in the comments below.