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16 Salutes: Barbara Coup and her piano

A resident at River View Manor near Lewisburg has brought joy to others during the pandemic through her love of music.

UNION COUNTY, Pa. — Barbara Coup feels most comfortable when she is sitting behind a piano. The 94 year old from Montandon started playing when she was 8 years of age. She prefers hymns and plays them by memory.

"Most people who are church people have gone to church for years, and they know and love the old hymns," she said.

Last July, Barbara moved to River View Manor, a personal care facility near Lewisburg. 

"I said I won't go unless I can take the piano. So they found out that I could, and I said I'll go," Barbara said.  

"The first time I heard her playing the piano, I just knew that the residents would love it," said Tammy Speece, River View Manor's administrator.

As residents were confined to their rooms because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbara would play her piano.

Speece says residents would open their doors so they could hear the music.

"Even staff would walk down the hall, and they would stop, including myself. I would be like, 'Oh, I could really hear that song today,' and there she was playing it. It was for all of us."

When residents could leave their rooms again, Barbara decided to play the baby grand in the facility's common area.

"There must have been about five, six people, and they all had their heads back and their eyes closed, and I thought I put them all to sleep. But actually, they were just enjoying and listening," Barbara recalled.

As much as Barbara loves playing the piano, the residents love listening.

"I was brought up in the church and knew all the old hymns. I don't remember all the words now, but I can sing along with her, so it's a real joy to have her play," said resident John Savidge.

As soon as Barbara starts playing, the room fills up.

"A number of times lately, they've been saying, 'When are you going to play again? When are you going to play again?' So that makes me happy."

At the age of 94, Barbara Coup is doing what she loves and is bringing joy to others at the same time.