Feeling the rhythm and following the beat, The Sentimental Journey, a four-person band created by residents at The Village at Penn State, shares their passion for music as they bring fun entertainment to their community. With performances in high-demand, residents and staff at The Village look forward to the band’s musical events throughout the year. And their performance of well-known songs from residents’ pasts, create joyful reminiscence across the community.
The Sentimental Journey Begins…
Len Ferrera, the band’s saxophone and clarinet star, is partly responsible for bringing this wonderful group of musician residents together. A resident of The Village for just over one year, Len and his wife moved to the community to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren who live in the State College area. “When we first came to The Village we discovered that there are lots of committees and groups for residents with different interests. I knew some residents who were musicians and learned that they had a Music Committee which creates different musical programs around the community,” Len explains.
For Len, music has been a part of his life since childhood. Beginning his musical journey with the clarinet and saxophone in the fourth grade, Len’s talent for music quickly caught on. “I always enjoyed playing and I performed in different bands when I was younger, but as I grew to be an adult and got married, I stopped. There was a period of about 25 years when I didn’t touch an instrument at all,” recalls Len.
When Len retired and moved to The Village with his wife, his availability and opportunities to pursue his passions certainly opened up. Living a worry-free lifestyle with a wide variety of community life programs to choose from, Len’s inclination for music began to spark. “When I discovered the musical committee, I met Ann Gross, who plays the piano,” Len explains. Joining with Ann and sharing their joy for music together, Len had the idea to start a band of their own.
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The band comes together
Len and Ann later recruited Pat Snyder as their base player. With Len on the saxophone and clarinet, Ann on the piano, and Pat on the base, the band knew they could use one more addition to complete their group. That’s when Len thought of his friend, John Black. “John never played an instrument before, but I knew he liked to dance and had rhythm. I said to him, ‘Why don’t you be our drummer?’”
And so he did. When John attended his first practice, his wife advised that he should bring an instrument. With no instrument on-hand, John brought a cardboard box and set of wooden spoons. “That’s what he played for his first practice. It was pretty funny,” Len laughs.
Now playing on a real set of drums, John and The Sentimental Journey get together once a week to practice their music. “We play mostly classical jazz, which is our favorite,” says Len. Performing well-known songs that residents grew up with, fans of The Sentimental Journey love to reminisce. “Many of the songs we play are some of residents’ favorites from when they were in high school or college so it’s a lot of fun,” Len reflects.
With six performances under their belt and more scheduled for the future, The Sentimental Journey and The Village keep their community safe by limiting concerts to 25 residents with proper social distancing and face masks amidst COVID-19. With a waiting list for nearly every concert, residents certainly look forward to attending.
We really enjoy being able to entertain people and seeing the residents’ response and how they’re enjoying themselves. It’s very rewarding.Len Ferrara, resident and Sentimental Journey band member of The Village at Penn State
While residents at The Village have so many wonderful community life programs and events to choose from, including university-based lectures, outdoor recreational activities in the beautiful Palmer Park, and engaging exercise classes, musical performances continue to be a favorite for many, especially those starring The Sentimental Journey. As the band continues to bring joy and entertainment to The Village, The Sentimental Journey can’t wait for their next performance.