Students and seniors find harmony together through music

Concerts include interaction with elderly audience


SOOTHING SOUNDS—A Harmonic Remedy saxophone players perform at a previous holiday function for senior citizens:. From left: Samantha Shapiro, James Ioannou, Nhat (Tintin) Nguyen and Kellen Fujishin. Courtesy of Quynh-Anh Nguyen

SOOTHING SOUNDS—A Harmonic Remedy saxophone players perform at a previous holiday function for senior citizens:. From left: Samantha Shapiro, James Ioannou, Nhat (Tintin) Nguyen and Kellen Fujishin. Courtesy of Quynh-Anh Nguyen

Music is known to stimulate the brain, promote health, and serve as a tonic in troubled times. For senior citizens who might be struggling in the twilight of their lives, music can be a godsend.

Recognizing the power of music, a group of high school students created A Harmonic Remedy, a nonprofit group that hosts concerts at senior homes. The performers don’t just play their instruments, they also take time to talk with their audience and encourage them to share stories about their lives.

“Even though performances are usually formal, we have a lot of interaction with people, and we really value their opinion,” said Quynh-Anh Nguyen, a freshman at Calabasas High School who recently became president of the group.

“When I first started it was more because I wanted to share my music, but I never realized how happy it makes people,” Quynh-Anh said.

A Harmonic Remedy was founded by Nguyen’s older brother Tintin and his friends Suraj Srivats and Eli Shi in 2014 as they graduated from middle to high school.

It was originally formed to raise money for the American Music Therapy Association and has evolved to bring joy to seniors through music and conversation.

After each show, the musicians interview people in the audience to learn their stories and then post excerpts of the exchanges on a blog that also contains advice from seniors to younger generations.

In addition to stimulating an emotional and physical response, music unites people and promotes well-being among the elderly and the mentally ill, said Tintin, whose passion for uniting people through music began several years ago when he and his cousins sang Vietnamese folk songs for his grandmother, who was grieving the death of a sister.

“I personally saw the benefit of music in bringing people together,” Tintin told The Acorn.

Suraj has performed Indian classical music in his community, and Eli has a background in dance. The three students were in the same middle school band.

Today, the nonprofit group comprises two dozen student musicians.

“The decision of these students giving to the community, and especially by way of intergenerational activity, is extremely impressive,” said Calabasas City Councilmember David Shapiro.

Shapiro’s daughter, Samantha, a saxophone player and college freshman, was involved in the group in high school.

Quynh-Anh said her brother and his two friends worked diligently to form a tax-exempt organization because they didn’t want A Harmonic Remedy to just be a club.

“What we really wanted is to interact with the people that we were helping, bring joy to their day and learn about their life experience,” said Quynh-Anh.

Over the past three years, A Harmonic Remedy has hosted free concerts at a dozen senior homes.

For more information, visit www.aharmonicremedy.org.