Updated: May 6, 2021
Front Yard Tunes Comes to Life
The whole world changed on March 13, 2021, when COVID-19 became a worldwide crisis. The following weeks quickly swallowed so many people up into pits of anxiety, fear, and loneliness. This tragic feeling of being so helpless and alone were those known by too many. Instead of letting these feelings encompass them as well, a West Homewood family decided to do something for the good and well-being of them and their neighbors. Justin and Eliza Warden created and began hosting concerts in their yard, known to friends and neighbors as “Front Yard Tunes.”
“Front Yard Tunes,” or “FYT” for short, was their active way to fight the feelings of being isolated by safely bringing so many people of the community together! A Nashville native, Justin got the idea when he was on the internet early during the pandemic and saw a video of people in Italy playing instruments together from their balconies. Lucky for everyone who has been able to attend “FYT” so far, his wife Eliza is a professional musician from Romania. Eliza had countless experiences playing in the streets and in parks while in countries throughout Europe like Spain and in England and absolutely loved the idea! After a few weeks of her singing duets with Justin and playing hymns and her favorite songs solo on her violin, she began asking neighbors to join her—many of whom hadn’t had a chance to perform since their high school marching band days. She’s since been accompanied by cellists, drummers, pianists and guitarists. Many of her music students have had recitals of sorts during the concerts.
Breaking Down Barriers
In the spirit of bringing everyone together and reflecting the rich diversity of West Homewood, they have also expanded to even allow the children of their neighbors to perform cheer routines, choreographed dances and had individuals read poetry. Justin also leads the group in “Dance Alongs” where all in attendance are encouraged to follow his step as he leads line dancing, swing dancing, and other sorts of dances as Eliza plays! To wrap things up, they have a tradition of ending each concert with “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Eliza said, “Even though I wasn’t born in the United States, I am an American citizen now, and I love this country and what it stands for…”
With so much free time, neighbors were thrilled when Justin started inviting them. He said, “it felt like in this time, so many barriers and boundaries were down, so it was nice to be able to just see people and say ‘I am having a concert in my yard. I don’t know you, but I’ve seen you around and you should come.’” Such blunt and open invitations, they quickly realized, were such an easy and effective way to have more people come to the shows!
The Wardens found a silver lining to the pandemic—time spent in community with others they might not have been able to spend time with otherwise. They have recognized the increase in deep meaningful relationships with people who were just a passing face or somebody to wave hello to before. Eliza said, “We have shared a lot with neighbors, and I feel like we are really a community in the true sense of the word- united.” The couple understands and states that we were created to live in community, and they are doing just that. Justin said, “If the pandemic hadn’t happened people would have just stayed in their lanes and continued to not intersect, so I took it as an opportunity to jump over these barriers and get to know people since people are living differently during this time.”
Another drive to connect with those around them is their two young sons. During the pandemic, the children have stayed home in efforts to stay safe, so West Homewood and the neighbors in it are the extent of community for these little neighbors for the time being. Through the concerts, they have seen the kids have new opportunities to play with neighborhood kids who they now know as friends. They are able to run and play, dance and sing, and laugh and explore with these friends as their parents bond as well. Eliza said, “If we were not to connect, they would lose unique and wonderful experiences that will one day become memories.” During the concerts, the children decorate the street with sidewalk chalk together, leaving behind a visual footprint of the happy times had by all!
Justin and Eliza encourage West Homewood neighbors to bring their families to experience community, joy and fun! To find the schedule for upcoming concerts, just go to Eliza’s Youtube Channel @ElizaPiroscaWardenOfficial and look for the next “Upcoming Live Stream” tab! The Warden’s hope to see you there and to have even more neighbors become friends!
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