Presenting Programs During a Pandemic
By Brian Dallow
MFAS Executive Director
Along with the rest of the country, New Jersey was closed down for COVID-19 in mid-March of 2020. By the middle of March all programs were brought to a close. This presented us with a series of challenges. The residents of facilities where we performed on a regular basis were suddenly without our programs. Our musicians, dependent upon performing, were suddenly without income. The first challenge was to figure out ways in which our programs could still be delivered to our facilities without endangering either facility residents or our musicians. The second challenge was to apply for a PPP loan/grant in order to continue operations through the summer.
Interviewed by: Courtney Mayes
What is your musical background?
I started singing in middle school, and I trained in musical theatre techniques at Performers Theatre Workshop and Cap 21 during high school. Then I went to college at Berklee College of Music where I studied voice. After this I moved to NYC, and had various gigs as a background vocalist and worked with a hip-hop & Shakespeare project called Sonnet Man. I studied with voice coaches Jennifer Hamady and David Friedman who emphasized the mind-body connection in singing. I began teaching voice lessons, specializing in the psychology of the voice- how we can use it for self-discovery, healing, and self-expression. I’ve recently been accepted to NYU for their graduate program in music therapy.
When veterans participate in Voice of Valor, most enter the program thinking they do not have the musical experience necessary or that they won’t be able to express themselves, but once they sit down with the welcoming teachers and musicians, this changes. With the support of these professionals, the participants feel right at home and are able to open up musically, something most of them thought was not even possible.
Richard Toth, who currently lives in Community Hope at the Lyons V.A. Hospital, said, “This is my second time/song I’ve done with Voices of Valor. When I first heard about it, I was skeptical about the whole thing. I didn’t think it would work. Well, was I wrong! You see, everyone has music inside of them. It really seems the hardest when you haven’t done much music. The great teachers and musicians that help you bring forth that music are with Voices of Valor. If you’re not a musical person, and you think you can’t, then you should. Not only are Voices of Valor good musicians, but they are good people. Thank you.” Continue reading