Hannah Marshall, Sophie Hannawalt, Sloane Bialas and Hope Hughes have been performing at local assisted living centers since 2018.

Hannah Marshall, Sophie Hannawalt, Sloane Bialas and Hope Hughes have been performing at local assisted living centers since 2018.

Photo provided by Sandi Marshall

Seaholm High School juniors play music at local assisted living centers

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 24, 2023


BIRMINGHAM — Since they were in seventh grade, four students have been visiting local assisted living centers in Birmingham and Troy to play music as a string quartet.

Hannah Marshall, Sophie Hanawalt, Sloane Bialas and Hope Hughes are now juniors at  Seaholm High School and continue their efforts toward brightening residents’ days at assisted living centers.

Marshall said one of the reasons they started playing at assisted living centers is because she remembers visiting her grandparents as residents in similar living situations, and she wanted to bring a positive light to these communities.

“We wanted to use our instruments to give back to the community,” Marshall said.

Throughout the years, Marshall’s mother, Sandi Marshall, has helped the students build connections with assisted living centers to set up locations to play.

While they go to some centers more than others, they cycle through about four to six places to play.

Hughes said the amount they play usually depends on their schedules. They tend to play more in the winter around the holidays, but they try to play somewhere at least once a month.

They play a range of different music during their visits. As a group, they play violin and cello. But, Bialas also sometimes sings and plays guitar for the audience.

“We try to cater to what we think they would like to hear,” Bialas said. “I play a lot of ‘50s tunes.”

They typically end shows with themes from “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, which they said is their favorite piece to play because it is very energetic.

“It is just really sweet to hear about their experiences and then also get to share something that will just brighten their day,” Hanawalt said.

The group has been performing together since 2018.

“The fact that we have stuck with this for so long and have been doing it with this group for so long, I just feel like that’s an accomplishment,” Marshall said.

Since they have gotten into high school, the group has found time to rehearse on their own time, even when they are not in the same orchestra classes.

“We kind of had to commit to learning different things than what we’re learning in class, and I’m happy that we’ve gotten to stick together even though we’ve kind of gotten into different orchestras once we have gotten to high school,” Hanawalt said.

Each member of the group has also been nominated and received recognition through the Birmingham Youth Assistance’s Youth in Service Awards. They were nominated by their orchestra teacher two years in a row.

The group plans to continue playing throughout the area next year as seniors in high school. They said they especially plan to perform more this summer.