Seri brings joy to Packwood Home
At 8, Seri Fisher is already learning about celebrity.
It's the status she has at the Packwood Home, where seniors have enjoyed listening to her sing and play the piano every Tuesday for the past two years.
She started after her grandparents, Bill and Beryl Fisher, passed away in Canada within four months of each other.
“We used to go and see my grandpa in an old folks home there,” said Seri, who lives across the street from the Sandys rest home.
“After he died, I started thinking maybe I could do the same things we did with him with the people at Packwood.”
There are smiles all around when she turns up.
“One lady always calls me honey,” she laughed.
Her parents, Eddie and Dengie Fisher, said the people at Packwood seemed happy just to see a young face.
“They really look forward to her coming,” Mr Fisher said. “I think they wouldn't mind if she juggled.”
Although a little nervous when she started, Seri soon got used to the performances.
“I started to hug them and make sure that they were fine,” she said. “Sometimes they sing along.”
Christmas carols such as Silent Night and Away in a Manger seem to be favourites, her father said.
Seri has grown particularly fond of one resident who “looks just like my grandmother”.
“I always give her a hug,” she said.
Her dedication was noted this month by the Centre on Philanthropy, which held a reception honouring 70 of the island's volunteers for their charitable works.
The certificate of appreciation has pride of place in the Fishers's living room.
“I was really shocked when I got there and found out I was the youngest volunteer there,” Seri said.
She makes time for Packwood despite a jam-packed schedule full of choir, music lessons, karate, homework and school plays.
The Somerset Primary School student started piano lessons at five years old.
“I was at a school assembly and the music teacher, Shannon Rose-Robinson, was offering music lessons to the Primary Fours,” Mr Fisher said.
“I said to the teacher, ‘How old was every great pianist you can think of when they started playing?' We both said 5 at the same time.”
Once Ms Rose-Robinson agreed she would teach Seri, her father started worrying.
“They usually don't like to take children younger than eight because they can't sit still,” he said. “After the teacher agreed, I started thinking, ‘Oh no, what have I done? What if Seri's a mess in the lesson?'.”
Seri was thrilled.
“There are other instruments with the same type of fingering,” she said, adding that she's now also learning to play the violin, recorder and guitar.
“I wanted to see if I could try to play a lot of instruments.
“I get stickers after my lesson. When I fill up the whole sticker chart, I get to choose from the prize box. You can get stamps and tattoos.”
Seri was playing simple songs with three fingers when she started at Packwood but has since progressed, and is proud to have completed her Royal Canadian Conservatory Grade One exam.
“I started learning how to play with two hands instead of one; I started learning more songs that were a bit harder.
“My teacher started to teach me things I didn't know were in piano. I thought it was just using your fingers to make tunes, but really you have to make it soft or loud.
“That can be hard. I am doing flats and scales now. I am learning a Beethoven song.”
Even some of the Packwood residents have remarked on her improvement, Mr Fisher said.
“I like to see people happy and smiling and listening to music that they like,” said Seri, who wants to become a singer or an actress.
“I feel happy when I see them smiling, because I know that I have done a good job, and I feel that I have done something that is nice, and that I can be proud of.”
One of the benefits of playing at Packwood is the extra practice. She'll play a little longer for the people at Packwood, than she will playing at home,” Mr Fisher said.
Seri sang with the choir at Christ Church, Warwick for the first time last week and will be playing “a couple of instruments” at a party this week.
Art is another one of her passions; she's creating a set of Christmas cards to give to her friends at Packwood. “I'm going to do four different designs and then photocopy them,” she said.
Her list to Santa will likely be a short one. At the moment, all she's hoping for is peace on Earth.
“I hear on the radio about so many people passing away,” she said. “I would just like to stop that.”