Glass City band keeps swinging to help special needs kids
Glass City and swing band may conjure up earlier eras for Jeannette residents and music lovers.
Twin sisters Jill and Joy Procida are determined to keep the name and the sound alive.
Born and raised in Jeannette, they gave a nod to the industry the city was long known for with the name of the band they founded, Glass City Swing Band. And their choice of music — which provided a soundtrack for many people growing up in the 1930s and 1940s and still gets people on the dance floor at weddings — comes from growing up in a household with an accomplished musician, Anthony Procida, as their father.
“We heard that music all the time. We really loved swing band, that era,” says Joy Procida.
“It’s the pop music of that time period,” says Jill Procida.
The sisters, 51, are both musicians. Each holds a bachelor of arts degree in music performance from Seton Hill University. Joy Procida is proficient in trumpet and Jill is proficient in saxophone.
Joy Procida serves as musical director of the 18-member band — 16 instrumentalists and a male and female vocalist — which formed in 2009 and became a nonprofit in 2015.
Her sister serves as office manager, writes grants and handles social media and mailings for the band.
On Nov. 14, the band will hold a fundraiser, the Second Annual Fall Into Jazz: Frank Sinatra concert, for a new program they hope to launch in 2018.
With the help of band member Valerie Uschock, a certified musical therapist, the Procidas created Swingin’ with Creative Arts Therapies, or S.C.A.T.
The Procidas both have been diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and use scooters for mobility. Continuing to play music helps to prevent further deterioration of their muscles, they say.
“We are getting weaker,” Jill says.
“We keep pressing on. We keep playing,” Joy says.
Through S.C.A.T., they hope to introduce school-age children with special needs, and eventually adults, to the band’s music through workshops in music, art and dance/movement. The program will encourage a collaborative performance with the band at the program’s end.
“Hopefully it’s going to give the children a sense of self-worth and meaning,” says Joy Procida.
The women want to see this love of swing music not only preserved, but passed on to new generations of music lovers.
The Nov. 14 concert will feature two special guests, Greensburg’s John Noble and Saint Vincent College grad Mickey Orange, who will assume the roles of older and younger Frank Sinatra.
Those attending can expect to hear many of the crooner’s classics, like “New York, New York,” “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “I’ve Got the World on a String.” The concert will be recorded, with CDs available for $9.
A Holiday Swing Dance is planned for Dec. 10 at the Jeannette American Legion, open to the public with a suggested donation of $10.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaryPickels.