Nursing prof finds time to play music for troops

Top Stories

Nursing prof finds time to play music for troops

Burning away the pain



A talented flautist and piccolo player, Ann Rogers spends her workweek as an associate professor of nursing at Penn. At home, she’s the busy mother of a high schooler. Those responsibilities leave little time for the demanding rehearsal schedule of an orchestra or quintet.

That’s why Rogers decided to get involved in the Veteran’s Administration-National Medical Chorale and Symphony Orchestra, a program where medical professionals, veterans and support personnel gather several times a year to perform musical selections for troops both at home and abroad.

“Right now, this is what my schedule can handle,” says Rogers. “It’s a nice way to connect work and things that you do for fun.”

Rogers joined the group for its most recent concert of popular, classical and patriotic music, called “For the Love of America,” performed at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va, in February. The program featured traditional marches including “Stars and Stripes Forever,” the 1812 Overture and selections from the opera Carmen, as well as readings by members of Congress, the media and the Department of Defense. The hour-and-a-half-long program aired on Armed Forces Radio and Television Service and the Pentagon Channel (viewable on Windows-based systems at

Rogers began playing the flute in sixth grade and kept it up through college, finding band practice a welcome break from her heavy load of science courses. But she put her instrument aside after college—for 28 years, in fact—only to pick it up again when her daughter asked Rogers to accompany her during practice. Since then, Rogers has attended summer workshops in Maine, learning about chamber music.

To prepare for the February concert, Rogers and the other musicians were sent the sheet music and expected to practice on their own before gathering at the Pentagon for just three practice sessions. This didn’t prove to be a problem, since many of the selections were standards that were familiar to the musicians, Rogers says. What was new for her was the experience of playing with the 200 fellow musicians in the symphony, and performing with a chorus. Rogers also performed several marches and a simple Bach fugue with a woodwind quintet the Friday before the performance.

Rogers says she’s looking forward to performing with the orchestra again, perhaps on its overseas tour in the fall, which coincides with a planned sabbatical from Penn.

Rogers, who practices her instrument a couple of times a week when time allows, says that music is a wonderful relaxation tool and this performance was a great way to connect with colleagues in the medical profession from around the country—even if they didn’t spend a lot of time talking about work.

“At this stage of my life, I’m not worried about sitting in the first chair or second chair,” she says. “I can go and have fun.”

Originally published on March 16, 2006