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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

Look For The Helpers: Retired CU Music Professor Brings Show To Seniors

Courtesy Bob Spillman

In times of distress, a quote from Mr. Rogers often comes up: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

In a recurring segment, KUNC is collecting stories of local "helpers," people who are going above and beyond to aid others during this time of crisis.

Bob Spillman has been playing piano since he was 4 years old.

"My mother played a little bit and I would sit next to her on the bench," said Spillman, 84, who began playing professionally at the age of 17. Later, he went on to teach music, including at the University of Colorado - Boulder, where he was chair of the piano faculty and music director of the opera program.

Now retired, he resides at The Carillon at Boulder Creek senior living community. He also still performs, including occasional concerts in the center's atrium. So when the center was locked down due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, he decided that the show must go on.

Spillman performs two half-hour outdoor concerts back to back — one for the residents whose balconies are on the front part of the building, and then another for those on the back.

"This is what I can do to help people out," Spillman said. "I can't be on the front line or give millions of dollars to this, that or the other thing. But people like to hear me play and I can do that."

Composing music helps keep his mind from dwelling too much on the state of the world. Currently he's setting a series of Emily Dickinson poems to music.

"It is time consuming," he said. "If I ever find myself just sitting around I say, 'well, I can get back to composing!'"

If you know of a local "helper" making a difference right now, contact KUNC reporter Stacy Nick at stacy.nick@kunc.org.

Stacy was KUNC's arts and culture reporter from 2015 to 2021.
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