WATCH: Bethesda teacher’s project catches attention of Journey keyboardist

Jonathan Cain of the band Journey poses in the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony press room at the Barclays Center on Friday, April 7, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)(Andy Kropa/Invision/AP/Andy Kropa)

A Bethesda, Maryland, school music teacher decided to have a virtual singalong to connect with his students during the pandemic, and the result caught the attention of a well-known musician.

Sean Gaiser, the music teacher at Mater Dei School, recorded the guitar portion of “Don’t Stop Believin'” to be included in the video.

“My whole goal was to put a compilation video together featuring every single kid that sent in their vocal, and a video of them singing the song with me,” Gaiser said.

As the videos poured in, there was a surprise submission. After learning about the project, Jonathan Cain, the keyboardist for Journey, also submitted a video.

In the video, Cain told students at the school about how his father was the inspiration for the song and recalled the exact pep talk he got from his dad during difficult times. That conversation would later give way to one of the best known rock songs to date.

“You have something special, don’t stop believing,” Cain recalled his father telling him.

Cain said he wrote the song’s lyrics in a notebook, and five years later, he came across them again. With the help of then-lead singer Steve Perry, the inspirational message was turned into a song.

Cain then turned to a piano and played the song for the students, which the kids would later sing along to in the video Gaiser created.

He ended the song with these parting words: “Don’t stop, don’t ever stop believing.”

Gaiser, who also operates GIGS Studio in Kensington, said he was honored that Cain took interest in the project and his students.

“It’s like they all got a front-row seat to a Journey concert or something, and backstage passes, or at least the closest we can come at this point,” Gaiser said.

Gaiser said Caine probably didn’t realize the song had also served as a source of healing for the school community on two occasions.

Students honored former student Michael Boland Jr. at his funeral by singing the song in 2018. One of the students there to sing it, Gaiser said, was Willie Hughes, who died from brain cancer soon thereafter.

Gaiser said “Don’t Stop Believin'” was Boland and Hughes’ favorite song.

“That song was really pivotal to the community,” Gaiser said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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