Senior Citizens Picking Up, Dusting Off Musical Instruments

    Although hard evidence is difficult to find, older Americans in recent years have increasingly embraced playing musical instruments or participating in other ways in the arts, according to Eugenia Costa-Giomi, a professor of music education at Ohio State University.

    As an adult, you have the time, the money, the ability to be disciplined and the desire to play music,” she said. “There is definitely an increase in music lessons among the older population. We live longer now, lead better lives and are more capable in our older years.”

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    1. Here in Australia there is a band comprising retired persons that enjoy playing their brass instrument. The band is know as Ýe Olde Brass, RSL Memorial Brass Band”
      We are based in Redcliffe, Queensland and perform concerts at retirement villages and nursing homes.We are 28members strong and last year we performed 104 concerts.
      Ross Gilbert
      Musical Director

    2. This is what I have been doing for 13 years. I have been teaching seniors, doing charity work by doing string orchestra , buy lots of J.W. Pepper music . I find that students and members can listen to and view the music as I teach them during rehearsals. They have a lot to offer. I also have classes in the senior center with interests of the retired people who have had experience or have had children’s instruments sitting around and want to learn. As our motor skills are not what they use to be, my orchestra director who has seniors as a full orchestra, does not understand the abilities and what happens in the brain . I have had awful experiences with bad comments and reticule from them during rehearsals and after concerts to them, that I feel like they are rude and are saying things that they can not help that happens to them. It is the same old thing over and over with all conductors of groups of seniors . Having an article out there to explain the mental capabilities of what happens in the nervous system of this age group would help. The conductors think it is all about them and they wear the ability of how the performance go on their sleeve. They do not know or have a clue how to teach seniors or what they need to perform better or to learn. They throw out a piece of music to us and expect to learn it. It is not that we can not site read it and play , but our recall off fingerings bowings and changes take more time then they even know. Here is a comment we get a lot. “ that went better then I thought it would”. Meaning that he thinks we are not good and expect low expectations. Another one is that “ I can not understand why you go slow when it goes to playing a performance”. Or “ it was fine when we practiced and why does it go awful when you play for people”. Never a good things to say and for that we never get a kinds word. It is always negative. For me, as a director of seniors and working in a senior center, I am equipped to understand the brain , and am a senior myself . I understand and work with them to know when they dust off their instruments and come back, there is going to be hurting muscles , bad eyes, slow reflexes and words that they like to play music that they know. Not classical all the time. They like show tunes, musicals, theater music and fiddle as well as classical. We need more music that are medleys of composers when it comes to classical . Not long pieces. It is getting out there and I am happy for them. When I pull out Beethovens Inc. they love the fact it is simple and they know the popular melody in the piece and so the the senior audiences. It is fun for them. That being said. I hope that more people who get out there to start senior groups of music, understand how their bodies work and what they like to do. When we play music that are show tunes we play them better and the audiences always stands up and claps. This is what the heart is saying. I am classically trained too and know that people love classical but not heavy lots and played up to tempo as we are expected. Thanks for listening and I hope this gets to you. Susan roberts. Thanks.

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