Evan Gorelick is a junior at Amity Regional High School. In addition to excelling academically and being involved in many extracurricular activities, Evan has long had a passion for playing electric guitar. He began playing at age 8 and has consistently devoted many hours every week between lessons and practicing over the years. Last summer these efforts were rewarded with a scholarship to attend The Berklee College of Music in Boston which was an incredible experience that deepened his love of playing as well as his appreciation for music even that much more. He came home energized to come up with unique ways to share his love of music with others.
This past year, Evan began to spread the joy of music by giving concerts one Sunday every month to the residents of The Willows Nursing Home in Woodbridge, where his grandfather is a permanent resident. His singular hope was to lift the spirits of the many residents who would regularly attend his concerts. Evan became a big hit! He spent countless hours preparing music for his one-hour monthly concerts – which often meant he was learning unfamiliar songs and music from decades well before he was born but that he knew the residents would recognize and enjoy. He encouraged the residents to make musical requests which he would then master and include in the next month’s concert.
Then came Covid 19 and The Willows was required to close its doors to all visitors in an effort to minimize the risk of infection among its residents and staff. Determined to continue to provide the residents with his music, particularly during a time when he felt the residents would be particularly isolated and vulnerable, Evan began making weekly music videos dedicated to The Willows residents, their families, and the nursing home staff, which he has been posting every week to his website www.giftingguitar.org. He calls them ‘Willows Quarantine Jams’ and to date there are six weeks of videos available to view.
With the help of the activities department at The Willows, Evan’s songs are shared with the residents using a special Willow’s iPad that enables the residents to continue to benefit from Evan’s gift of music. Evan starts and ends each video with a personal message of encouragement to the residents, as he understands very acutely the difficulty and challenges each resident is facing especially without their family or friends being there to support them.
Gifting Guitar is a charitable organization originally started by Evan with the aim of providing education in guitar proficiency, music theory, and musicianship to underprivileged children who may not otherwise have this opportunity. Given the practical constraints resulting from the current coronavirus pandemic, Evan has expanded the original goals of his organization to include other forms of giving the gift of music to others. He intends to continue to post his weekly ‘Quarantine Jams’ until he is able to return in person to The Willows once again!