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Choudrant youth offers songs of hope

Thursday, May 14, 2020
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Preston Parker, 11, sits behind the piano at his home in Choudrant.

Nursing homes around Louisiana have stopped allowing visitors due to COVID-19 regulations.

But the stay-at-home order issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards is not keeping live music from filling the residences.

Every week, live piano music plays in residents’ rooms, virtually, of course, thanks to 11-year-old Preston Parker of Choudrant, who has been providing online concerts to nursing home residents across north Louisiana.

Preston’s first virtual concert was on Good Friday and could be viewed via Facebook Live. After the concert, Chaplain Paul Ford of Delta Grande Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center reached out to Preston to play during devotional time.

“I play every week,” said Preston, “and this week, I have three concerts.”

Residents of Delta Grande, located in Monroe, can listen to the concerts via Zoom. Preston’s mom, Shelley Parker, said that for all the nursing homes, Preston plays sacred music, but he also plays some online concerts with classical music.

Prior to COVID-19, Preston had been playing regularly at local nursing homes, but now his music can be heard by residents as far as El Paso, Texas.

Since the start of his virtual concerts, Preston has become popular with Facebook viewers and nursing home residents. His first nursing home online concerts were with Paramount Healthcare Consultants, which have homes located in Louisiana and Texas. Recently, Heart of Hospice has reached out to Preston.

“My gran really liked music, and I want to make her and God proud,” Preston said. “I want to show God’s love.”

A student of Denise Cox, he just finished his sixth year of piano last week and looks forward to being able to play for a live audience again. “I miss being able to see the happy faces people get when I finish playing.”

Preston’s mother said the shows will go on despite the upcoming easing of Edwards’ stay-at-home order that will begin on Friday.

“We’ll keep doing this for a while,” Shelley Parker said. “We won’t stop doing this even though the order is lifted.”

And for nursing home residents in north Louisiana, that is likely news is music to their ears.