It was mid-morning. The door was open in his music room aka garage as he practised playing the saxophone. It was day-18 of the national lock-down period. A neighbour eventually got in touch with him and said why don’t you share your music with others?
And that’s what Engineer Gerry de Leon did last Easter Sunday. He took his equipment outside the front lawn and performed for his neighbours. Because his house as in a cul-de-sac, his audience had a very good view of his performance.
Gerry started playing the saxophone, more than seven years ago. He basically self-studied by reading books and watching YouTube videos. His first sax was a cheap, Chinese-made one he bought in Auckland. Through the years he has acquired more expensive and better saxophones.
He said it was discouraging at the beginning because he couldn’t even produce a note. “I was very poor in music. Wala akong alam sa music. But I really wanted to learn how to play the saxophone. So I studied the music sheets, musical theory, and practised every afternoon after coming home from work. Sa kwarto ako nagpapraktis kasi medyo maingay yung saxophone diba.”
Practising constantly boosted his confidence and then he got the wonderful opportunity to play in a rest home. His wife Melany works as a support worker going to different old folk’s homes. There was one client who was celebrating his birthday at the Summerset Retirement Village in Hamilton. Gerry’s wife encouraged him to play for the birthday celebrant. The rest home residents were appreciative of his performance and he was invited back to perform a few weeks later. That was the start of his advocacy to entertain and perform to old folks in rest homes.
He counts around 7-8 rest homes that he visits with his wife who acts as his manager/roadie whom they visit at least once a month. They even travel at least twice a year to a rest home in Auckland which is around 124 kilometres away, travel time of 1 ½ hours just to entertain the old folks residing in the rest home. They sit around the lounge and listen to him.
Unfortunately because of the Covid-19 virus they are not able to perform in the rest homes because the old folks are the most vulnerable to the virus. He thought of recording his performances and sending them DVD copies but because of this Covid-19 virus the residents are no longer allowed to stay in the lounge. They have to be isolated inside their rooms.
His neighbours enjoyed the Easter Sunday performance and have requested if Gerry can do it on a regular basis. He’s thinking of continuing it weather permitting. He really looks forward to doing it again. I mentioned to him perhaps we can look at the possibility of sending his video clips to the different hospitals who can then play it in their CCTV channels.
In fact the reason behind this feature story is that I wanted him to have a wider audience and interviewed him for my Ekwento Mo vlog. Engineer Gerry de Leon turned his passion for playing the saxophone into an advocacy of not only entertaining but also uplifting the lives of people, whether they’re old folks in a rest home, his neighbours around the block, and soon viewers from around the world.
SHARE THIS STORY to inspire people and SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Engr. Gerry de Leon for sharing the healing power of music with his neighbors during the lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus disease.
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