The McKenzie Highlands School maestro said the show must go on – despite the coronavirus.
Danny Cooper, a music teacher at Mckenzie Highlands School, is doing his part to keep the music alive for those hit particularly hard by the COVID 19 crisis.
The McKenzie Towne long term care centre has been hit hard by the coronavirus. There have been 18 COVID-19 related deaths and dozens of staff and residents have tested positive for the virus.
Since Cooper’s ability to teach music has become limited, he decided to put on a one-man show in Promenade Park, which sits between the two care centre buildings.
“One thing I do with my students is try and get them more involved with the community, so in the past we’ve gone to parks to put on little outside performances. Obviously, I can’t take them with me to the senior centre, but I can go there myself,” he said.
Having visited the care centre three times now, Cooper has found that it garners a positive response from both the occupants, as well as people passing through the park.
“Dog walkers will come by, I’ve had a few students come and watch, and of course, some of the seniors will come outside and listen,” he said.
“It’s just a small thing I can do to make sure the seniors know someone is thinking of them.”
Cooper’s music a connection to his grandfather
Cooper started playing music when he was 13, learning on a trumpet that had belonged to his grandfather.
“I never met my grandfather, but my dad had his old trumpet and told me that if I learned how to play, I could have the trumpet,” said Cooper.
“It’s kind of a neat way for me to feel connected to my grandfather.”
Cooper said he feels it’s important for people to find creative ways to help out their communities, despite the challenges that social distancing presents.
“It’s an interesting time right now. I think Calgary has responded really well to the COVID-19 situation, and I find that a lot of people do want to help, but they don’t really know how,” he said.
“If all you can do is stay home to protect yourself and others, then that’s still doing your part.”
Cooper draws inspiration from front line workers, and hopes that others will see what he’s doing, and try to find their own ways to give back.
“I’m no hero. I’m not a nurse or a doctor or a firefighter. They’re the ones really making a difference. But this is something that I can do,” said Cooper.
“I just hope other people will be inspired to find ways to help out, even if those ways feel small.”
‘It almost brought me to tears.’
Susan Tisshaw, who works at a doctors office nearby, left work to grab some lunch when she heard God Save the Queen echoing through the neighbourhood.
“It almost brought me to tears,” Tisshaw said.
“My mom is from England, so hearing that song reminded me of her. I just can’t help but think about all these poor people. There’s a lot of sadness right now.”
Cooper received several similar comments from other pedestrains, as well as cheers and applause from occupants inside the retirement homes.
He said the pandemic not only motivated him to give back to the community, but also to give thanks for his home and his family’s good health.
“We can still drink the water, we can still breathe the air. We’re doing OK,” he said.