EMU Given Top Quality Piano

Geraldine Estep Sherwood with Paulo Steinberg of EMU's music department faculty. Geraldine Estep Sherwood with Paulo Steinberg of EMU’s music department faculty. Dr. Steinberg played and accompanied several selections on the new Steinway piano housed in Martin Chapel.
Photo by Jim Bishop

EMU is all keyed up – in an upbeat, celebrative way.

Martin Chapel at Eastern Mennonite Seminary is the new home of a Model B Steinway concert grand piano, thanks to a gracious donor.

Geraldine Estep Sherwood of Fairfax, Va., gave the funds to purchase the high-quality piano, which will benefit both the seminary and EMU’s music department, since Mrs. Sherwood has strong interest in both.

EMU hosted an appreciation dinner for Mrs. Sherwood on Monday, Apr. 17, with representatives from the seminary and undergraduate music department. Following the meal, the donor attended a dedication ceremony for the new piano and a practice session for one of the groups who will benefit directly from the instrument, the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir.

‘Top-of-the line piano’

"This is a top-of-the-line piano, so it’s an exciting development for us," said Joan Griffing, associate professor and music department chair. "We have one older Steinway that has been very heavily used, so we’re pleased to have a new piano of this caliber," Dr. Griffing said.

"For our piano majors to be able to play on an instrument of this quality is an incredible opportunity, something they would only experience at a conservatory. We are deeply grateful," Griffing added.

The Sherwood family has set up two scholarships – the Stern Endowment named for her grandparents and the Estep-Sherwood Endowment – to assist music majors at EMU.

One of those recipients, senior music education major Bethany M. Blouse of Dublin, Va., planned to publicly thank Mrs. Sherwood for the assistance she has received, but became ill and was unable to attend the dinner.

Gracious Support

Although Sherwood lives in northern Virginia, she remains a supportive member of the Otterbein United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg. Several students at Eastern Mennonite Seminary receive financial assistance from an endowment fund she established especially to help United Methodist students attend EMS.

Dan Seifert, director of youth ministries, and Michael Dettmer, coordinator for children’s ministries at Otterbein, expressed appreciation at the dinner for that support.

Dettmer, originally from Portsmouth, Va., came to EMS the fall of 2003 and had to borrow heavily to attend.

"It was a real adjustment at first," Dettmer told the group. "But Otterbein has been a real support, and EMS has provided a strong learning environment as preparation for future ministry. Her [Sherwood’s] benevolence has helped provide peace of mind and grace to concentrate on my studies," he said.

"I was pleased to give the piano out of my love of music and to support students in their preparation for careers in music or pastoral ministry," Sherwood said.