Piano Teacher, Students Serenade Downtown Ocean City

first_imgBy MADDY VITALEA horse and carriage clip-clopped along Asbury Avenue while carrying visitors. Shoppers strolled in and out of stores in search of holiday gifts.And Shawn Quigley, a piano teacher in Ocean View, sat down on Saturday at his fully restored 1920 Conway piano to play some Victorian-era festive music for a socially distanced crowd.Several of Quigley’s music students stopped by to perform Christmas favorites to the delight of passersby at the corner of Eighth Street and Asbury Avenue in downtown Ocean City.While this Christmas season in Ocean City is no more typical than on any other Main Street in America amid the COVID-19 pandemic, piano playing and friendly conversations between strangers seemed to make everything a bit more normal, Quigley said.Aleida Bernat, 14, of Ocean View, takes a candy cane after she performs.Quigley said that over the years he has played outside of storefronts on Asbury Avenue, but hasn’t in a few years.This year, he felt he had to.“The kids need something happy. We all do. Playing the Victorian music, playing carols while horse and carriages go down the street, it creates a beautiful atmosphere,” he noted. “People aren’t really surprised to see this in Ocean City. They know Ocean City does these kinds of special things.”The piano playing went from noon to 3 p.m. And from the start, Quigley’s students arrived one by one to perform their special holiday songs.Sarah Bernat, of Ocean View, brought her daughter, Aleida, to play “Carol of the Bells.”When Aleida was through, she hopped up to the applause of the crowd. Quigley opened the piano bench, which was filled with goodies, including handfuls of candy canes.Aleida picked up a candy cane and said, “Today is pretty cool. Since we missed our summer concert because of COVID, it’s great that we at least get to do something.”Passengers riding in a horse-drawn carriage get a look at the Eighth Street mini-concert while passing by on Asbury Avenue.Some of Quigley’s students were pretty serious about their special musical contributions to the audience.Sisters Eme Laut, 12, and 9-year-old Eden each got their turn to perform.Eme played “Oh Christmas Tree” and Eden did her best rendition of “Deck the Halls” as their parents, David and Courtney Laut, videoed the performances.Anna Wisnefski, 12, of Ocean City, and her little brother, Anderson, 8, also performed for an audience with their teacher watching alongside them.Anderson Wisnefski, 8, plays a favorite holiday tune, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” with his teacher Shawn Quigley by his side.Anna played “Silent Night,” while Anderson stuck to the old favorite, “Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer.”Eight-year-old Brooke Fearnhead’s siblings watched, along with her parents, Jamie and Anthony Fearnhead, and her grandparents, as she also played “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”“She’s been playing for two years,” Jamie Fearnhead, a sergeant in the Ocean City Police Department, noted of her daughter. “Her grandparents got her interested in music.”Brooke’s grandparents, Nancy and Tony Fearnhead, watched her performance and clapped. Tony summed up their sentiment, “It’s just beautiful to see.”Gabe Moratelli, 8, of Ocean View, plays a favorite song, “Jingle Bells.”Anna Wisnefski, 12, of Ocean City, performs “Silent Night.” Pianist Shawn Quigley performs in December with student, Brooke Fearnhead, during a free holiday performance in downtown Ocean City.last_img read more