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The Art Of NurSing Brings Joy & Music To Local Nursing Homes

When Ella Palmieri was a sophomore in college, she worked at a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was heartbroken and discouraged when most residents couldn’t see their families or have visitors.

After wanting to help more residents and conceptualizing how difficult the staffing shortage was at the nursing homes, Palmieri was determined to make a difference.

“I listened to a podcast once that said, ‘If something is placed on your heart, follow it because it’s there for a reason,'” Palmieri said. “For some reason, the music and the arts were placed on my heart.”

Palmieri headed to her professor and nursing instructor, Maggie Layman, to strike up ideas on how students could offer hope for older residents. After watching the emotional Northwell Health Nurse Choir golden buzzer performance, the two were ready to bring a choir to life at Penn State.

Last spring, Palmieri created a student-composed choir, The Art of NurSing. Members are nursing students, individuals interested in the healthcare field, or students who “just love to sing.”

These students travel to local nursing homes and assisted living communities, including Juniper Village and Wynwood House, to sing to the residents.

Courtesy of Ella Palmieri

“In my life, I found that music had a really healing effect on me and allowed me to release stress. Our goal is to use music as a way to bring joy and healing to the elderly and sick,” Palmieri said.

Layman reassured Palmieri that investing time into an organization like this was worth it, “even if it did fail.”

“There couldn’t be any negative outcomes [if it failed] because the goal was to make a positive impact,” Palmieri said. “I would always think back to the nursing home that I worked at… That was a motivating factor for me.”

Although Palmieri is attending school for nursing, she believes music is “a way to express emotions, connect with people, and create meaningful relationships.”

Courtesy of Ella Palmieri

The group primarily sings “oldies” tunes starting in the 1950s, given its demographic.

From Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” to Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” to The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things,” residents can sing along to familiar pieces.

“We like to give them a mix of slow music to upbeat and fun for variety,” Palmieri said.

The choir is still growing and welcomes new members each week. Rehearsals are held from 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays in room 128 in the Theatre Building.

“Anyone is welcome… If they’re passionate about it, anyone can come,” Palmieri said.

Courtesy of Ella Palmieri

The Art of NurSing is open for students to sing, and there are opportunities for student-director leadership. Palmieri is always looking for students to teach the songs, conduct, play the piano, find sheet music, and more.

The choir’s next nursing home performance will be on Thursday, April 13.

“In my head, nursing isn’t just about the physical aspects of caring for a human being. It’s about caring for the mental and emotional aspects. Music is one way to do that,” Palmieri said.

If you’re interested in joining The Art of NurSing, you can contact Palmieri through the organization’s Instagram or by emailing [email protected].

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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