Christina's Music Therapy work was recently featured on Humanity Today
Our mission is to help senior citizens recover lost dreams of health and companionship by learning to play music with others.
A Personal Tribute REGARDING MUSIC GIVES LIFE
"My daughter Tara is a pianist and composer with autism. Social communication was always a challenge for her. Not able to connect with her peers, she spent much of her time in social isolation. However, she discovered that her gift of music allowed her to express her feelings and reflections of the world around her and share them with others. Tara and her sister Dana, a talented singer, bonded through music. Together they did many community and school performances.
However, as an adult, while playing at a senior residence home, a former piano teacher criticized Tara for not conforming to a standard style of playing. The music stopped. Tara would not play any longer. The loss of Tara’s music in our household was like losing a family member.
A string of circumstances brought Tara to join an AHRC recreational program called Super Saturday. There was Christina Britton Conroy, working as musical therapist, directing a delightful group of cognitively challenged participants. We do not know what Christina did to encourage Tara to play the keyboard again. But play the keyboard, Tara did. Christina put the glow back in Tara’s eyes and the magic of music back in her soul. Tara now takes great pride in being able to connect with the others in the group through her music. We see her confidence in herself growing every day. Christina performed a miracle for our family. She is a very special person. Thank you, Christina."
Sharon Fialco | www.starabella.com
Author of Starabella, based on music written and performed by Tara Fialco
Words of Support from Show Stoppers
"I was always shy and quiet, I never thought I could perform on stage. But thanks to Christina Conroy I did the impossible. With her encouragement and her faith in me, little by little I began to dance, sing, act and play an instrument. I will always be grateful to Christina for what she did for me."
Maudie Salowitz, Age 90 | Bronx, NYC
"I have been performing with the Show Stoppers for six years. One Thanksgiving day, we performed for homeless people at the Laugh Factory Comedy Club. My husband in the hospital I.C.U. While performing, I was also worrying about him. Traveling home that evening I felt relaxed and happy, knowing I had offered fun and entertainment to our audience. A few days later my husband died. The Show Stoppers' motto, 'Music Gives Life', helped me cope with my sorrow. Without the Show Stoppers I would have been home grieving with my loss, alone."
Veronica (Roni) Ivins, Age 88 | Manhattan
"I had been advised by my doctor to wrap up affairs, because I had about four to six months to live... Christina persuaded me to join her group of performers. She not only taught me to read music, but also to play the piano keyboard, and greatly improved my ability on the instruments I played. Most significant, Christina literally gave me life. Chemotherapy, which I was told would be of no avail, started to be effective. In fact my oncologist noticed this phenomenon and insisted that I continue with what he called, my 'Musical Therapy'."
Les Krellenstein, Age 75 | Manhattan
A note from Christina: After Les wrote this, he lived three more, richly musical years. When he finally succumbed to liver cancer, his musical instruments were donated to the Show Stoppers.
"I noticed (Christina's) charismatic personality, her multi-talents, her beauty as a high-level person. I asked her if she would teach me to play jazz piano...(I have played classical piano since my early childhood, but always yearned to play jazz). Christina's answer to me was: 'I know little about jazz piano, but I'll teach you what I know'. An astounding answer! I, of course, began jazz lessons with Christina. As I progressed, she suggested that I join her musical ensemble group...Now I had the ultimate experience."
Sonia Schwartz, Age 83 | Manhattan
"I never thought that there was life after retirement. After my daughter died, at the age of 44, I had nothing to do except watch TV and wait to die. Little did I know that a music program, directed by Christina Conroy, would change my life. Christina not only involves her seniors, but she engages them and challenges them like no other before her. She gets seniors on their feet dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, participating in cabaret acts or shows and pageants. We perform in city parks, for major corporations, and even on television. Who would have thought that I, in my 90s, would perform on MTV? Christina provides the motivation, the forum, the appropriate programs to get seniors living life as it should be lived - productively and in good health."
Rosario Avelino, Age 95 | Queens
A note from Christina: Rosario sang, danced, and played keyboard with the Show Stoppers for 26 years. She peacefully passed away shortly before her 98th birthday. In lieu of flowers, her family requested donations be sent to Music Gives Life.
"I happened to be watching NY1 TV News, NYers of the Week: The Show Stoppers. I was looking for a volunteer music group to join and contacted Christina Conroy. After attending 2 rehearsals, I was officially named a Show Stopper. I have never been happier. I have learned so much about music and performing, in such a professional way. Our talented director can be a tough cookie, but I would have it no other way. I was a music teacher with the NYC Board of Ed, but have since learned microphone technique, to play the electronic keyboard, but most important, I became an intricate part of an extraordinary ensemble. We entertain audiences in nursing homes, rehab and hospital facilities. How rewarding it is to see Alzheimer’s patients suddenly sit upright and start singing songs with us. I hope to be a Show Stopper for many years to come."
Judy (JC) Cohen, Age 76 | New York City
"When a friend told me about Christina’s singing group I jumped at the opportunity to explore this hidden part of my soul. I was particularly impressed by Christina’s command of all aspects of music and her innate ability to convey her musicianship in an understandable way. My vocal technique improved and my familiarity with the great American songbook grew enormously. I shall never forget the frisson of excitement just before performing in public, something that only a few years ago would have been impossible for this shy Latina. The performers that were part of her group are congenial and committed to singing and performing, not to mention amusing and supportive in every way. My experience with Christina’s group allowed me to change my self-definition from a spectator to a doer, and for that, I will always be grateful. Christina is awesome!"
Narda Magill, Age 66 | New York City
"After NYC Opera disbanded, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I had sung with their regular chorus for 21 years. Now, I wanted to work with seniors. When Christina asked me to do a show with her, I thought it might be fun. I have been performing with Show Stoppers for about a year and find it very rewarding -- I have seen so many senior eyes light up when we perform. Sometimes I have to choke back tears when I see someone beaming at me, as I grab their hand and say, “Hello.” I think our elderly audiences love these shows, because most of the performers are also elderly. This is what makes Show Stoppers so unique."
Bernadette Fiorella, Age 56 | New York City
Words of Tribute to Show Stoppers
"On behalf of the Deacons of First Presbyterian Church, I thank you and your wonderful performers in the Show Stoppers for an afternoon of music that lifted our spirits, brought laughter and hope, and brought together a unique and special group of individuals... The professionalism is beautiful to behold. The program selections were absolutely wonderful... Our friends are still talking about it, and will be until your next engagement! ... Thank you for giving us all this delight."
Meg Harper, First Presbyterian Church | NYC
"Thank you for your great performance at the JASA West Side Senior Center... Our members really loved the performance, and had wonderful comments to make for many days after your show. It was great to see the thrill you all get from performing and this thrill is evident in the way you all perform, with gusto!" Claire Jackson
JASA West Side Senior Center | NYC
"I am writing in reference to the Show Stoppers and their outstanding performance. I had the opportunity of working with this wonderful group of people. The Show Stoppers performed for our facility on New Year's Eve. They were fun, energetic and interacted very well with our residents. ... I highly recommend this group to any facility. You and your clients would enjoy every moment of the Showstoppers entertainment."
Nicole Barnaby, Hearthstone at the Esplanade | NYC