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State Honoree

Steven Eichthaler


Steven Eichthaler, 18, of Decatur, Texas, a senior at Decatur High School, began organizing student musical performances for senior citizens six years ago, and has since staged 85 mini-concerts involving more than 60 young musicians at nursing homes and community events. It all started when his school band visited a local nursing home to play Christmas music. "After the show, I discovered there were several residents who could not attend, so I asked if I could stay and play for them in their rooms," remembered Steven, a beginning clarinet student at the time. "So many of the seniors asked us to come in and sit with them. We could have stayed all night."

Steven was asked to come back and play again, so he asked several of his fellow band members to join him, and put together a little program. Word spread, and Steven was soon getting requests from other nursing homes. He began scheduling small ensemble performances on a regular basis, calling the project "MUSE." He coordinates the musicians, hosts practice sessions, and selects and arranges the music, which ranges from classical to jazz to church music. Sometimes he invites choir students and other vocalists to join in. In addition to playing at nursing homes and care centers, MUSE members participate in fund-raisers to provide holiday gifts, blankets and other items for shut-in seniors. "I have found that music can overcome many differences, and can connect one generation to another through beauty and appreciation," he said.