Students bring birthday greetings to Palace at Coral Gables residents

Students bring birthday greetings to Palace at Coral Gables residents
Palace at Coral Gables resident Doris Kushman tunes into watch her birthday “shout out” from Heart Stings.

Birthdays have become even more special for residents at The Palace at Coral Gables thanks to Westminster Christian School’s Heart Strings delivering a sweet note — literally!

The group, comprised of very talented string musicians, plays Happy Birthday to each resident on their big day, with the video airing on The Palace’s in-house television. A personalized birthday greeting from the group’s leader, Alan Stech, is included. Students then launch into the famous birthday melody which is considered the most recognized song in the English language.

“Before COVID-19, we traveled to perform for older adults and those in nursing homes, but the pandemic ended these opportunities,” Stech explained. “But a positive outcome from the pandemic is we find we’re making more of an impacting people virtually. The video is more personal and we appear more frequently. It’s a good feeling letting people know we’re praying for them on their special day.”

Alan prerecords the birthday greeting with the celebrant’s name and The Palace Coral Gables’ social director Pamela Parker has provided a list of upcoming birthdays.

“The video greeting is merged with the students’ performance,” Stech said. “They are playing separately, but at the same speed so it appears they are playing together.”

The first virtual video “shout out” was delivered on Sunday, Oct. 18, to Doris Kushman, who celebrated her 97th birthday.

The birthday greetings are not only a hit with the celebrant but the entire community as well. Everyone enjoys watching the gifted performers show off their skills.

The students range from eighth-grade to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors and have played together since school resumed.

Stech said he came up with the idea when he watched a video of a professional orchestra playing together during the pandemic and thought he could adapt this to his group.

The Palace Coral Gables is an independent and assisted living community for active retirement living with luxurious amenities and services. To learn more about The Palace Coral Gables, please call 305-445-7444 or to view a list of The Palace Group’s senior living communities, visit

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