Soothing souls: Pianist writes song for health care workers

Sanford volunteer musician Jay Tripp composes song to uplift staff

Jay Tripp has been playing music for a long time.

The co-owner and sales manager of Schoppert’s Piano Gallery in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, says he began not only playing, but also composing, at the age of 9.

“I started composing because I hated piano lessons,” Tripp said. “My teachers said if I got my lesson perfect, I could write my own song. It kept my interest in music.”

It’s a good thing he kept that interest. Now it’s benefiting Sanford Health front lines workers.

Therapy through notes

Tripp played music in The Empire Mall food court for Westmoor Music for eight years. He then moved to Minneapolis, giving retirees lessons, before moving back to Sioux Falls in 2009.

“My stepmom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and family is so, so important. We found out kind of late, and she went into hospice,” Tripp said.

“That’s when I really got into the effects music can have as far as a healing standpoint.”

Since moving back, Tripp has volunteered to play piano in the Sanford USD Medical Center lobby every third Thursday of the month.

“When I started volunteering, I did it for the patients. Over the last 11 years, I’ve noticed the staff loves it just as much. What I’m doing there for an hour and a half makes a difference in a day.”

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tripp hasn’t been able to play. Still, he wanted to provide Sanford Health staff with a reprieve, however long or short it may be.

“As far as healing, I’d like to think I give them an opportunity to forget what’s going on in the world right now. Give them a sense of meditation and self-reflection,” Tripp said.

‘Making a difference’

Sanford volunteer coordinator Rebecca Conner had noticed the positive impact Jay Tripp’s playing has on her staff. She asked Tripp if he could write and record a song for them.

Initially, Conner asked if Tripp would write it over a weekend, but he didn’t want to wait.

“Why make everyone wait until Monday or Tuesday? I sat down, and the notes came to me. I just get in the right frame of mind, play three or four notes, and take it from there,” he said.

“What the piano allows them to do is create their own lyrics to the song. To me, it’s healing and it seems to bring a lot of joy to people. If I can use my talents to bring a smile to someone’s face, its worth it.”

Tripp says through his years playing at Sanford, and especially during the coronavirus pandemic, he’s realized just how important it is to help others.

“Any way where you can get out and do something for someone. I used to think you had to have money to be a philanthropist, but I’ve found that if you can give time, that’s even more important,” he said.

Helping those who help others

This heavy and uncertain time has strained many people. But Jay Tripp asks people to not only think about ways they can help each other, but especially those on the front lines.

“I just think we need to let them know we stand behind them. We need to remember that what they’re doing is more important than we’ll ever know. The people in the medical community are putting their lives at risk,” he said.

“Just know what you’re doing is good, and it’s appreciated. The thing about the Sioux Falls community is that we come together in times like this. Stand strong together and be there for each other every day.”

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Posted In Coronavirus, Sioux Falls, Wellness

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