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Students were not able to sing carols in person this year at the hospital. So they brought holiday music via video.

“It’s a tradition for us as well as for the Medical Center. We wanted to bring that same holiday cheer this year.”

by December 11, 2020

Members of Radial Grooves provided videos of five carols to be enjoyed by hospital patients — and others.

Radial Grooves is a student a capella singing group that has a yearly tradition of visiting patient care units at the Medical Center and caroling at holiday time.

“In the past, we would pick an evening and visit [units such as the] ER waiting room, Palliative Care, and Oncology,” said Sharon Kam, a third-year medical student who has sung with the group for all three of her years at Vanderbilt.

“We chose the most popular ones that we’ve sung over the years.”

“It’s a tradition for us as well as for the Medical Center,” Kam said. “It’s a lot of fun for both us and the patients. We wanted to bring that same holiday cheer this year.”

Of course, because of the pandemic, singing in person in the hospital can’t occur right now.

But the group, made up mostly of medical students but also including students from other professional and graduate programs at Vanderbilt, has found another way to bring its talent and cheer to patients, families and employees.

Radial Grooves leaders — Kam, along with Dakota Vaughan, a third-year medical student, and Gillian Beltz-Mohrmann, a PhD student in physics and astronomy — organized the production of videos of members singing five carols.

“We chose the most popular ones that we’ve sung over the years,” Kam said.

The well-rounded repertoire includes renditions of “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel,” and “Deck the Hall.”

Using the same musical accompaniment, members of the group individually recorded videos that were later synchronized and merged. The harmonizing result is a choral performance on each song over video. To tie everything together visually, each member wears a distinctive “Radial Grooves” beanie purchased with funds donated by an anonymous donor to the group.

The Carols are now on GetWellNetwork, available on video screens in Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital, located in the Songs of Healing favorite space from the main menu. The videos may be available later in other VUMC areas and the Shade Tree Clinic.

A video is not the same as in-person caroling, of course, but the silver lining is that the videos will be available to many more people than the students could reach in person.

“It excites us that we’re able to extend our reach this year,” Kam said. “We love bringing holiday cheer to everyone.”

Here are videos of each of the individual songs, followed by a “greatest hits” collection of all five holiday favorites.

COVID-19, music, coronavirus, holiday, Sharon Kam, Dakota Vaughan, Gillian Beltz-Mohrmann, Vanderbilt School of Medicine