Older Adults Actively Engaged in the Making of Music

While passively listening to music has numerous merits, many older adults are creating their own music. A University of Massachusetts paper entitled ‘Benefits of Music Participation for Senior Citizens: A Review of the Literature’ states that ‘active music participation holds numerous benefits for senior citizens, including, but not limited to’:

  1. an overall sense of physical and mental well being, including the lessening of stress, pain and medication usage,
  2. the slowing of age related cognitive decline,
  3. feelings of pleasure and enjoyment,
  4. pride and a sense of accomplishment in learning new skills,
  5. creation and maintenance of social connections,
  6. a means of creative self expression, and
  7. the construction of identity at a time in life when sense of identity may be in flux.

Just two days after his 80th birthday Leonard Cohen will be releasing a new album. The album ‘Popular Problems’ is his second since his return to the spotlight in 2008. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “he stunned his fans by staging three-and-a-half-hour concerts that quickly brought him from tiny theaters in Canada to sold out arenas across the globe’.

Tony Bennett is another performer who proves that age is no barrier to having a successful musical career. At age 88, Bennett is turning younger audiences on to classic songs by Cole Porter and Gershwin. The New York Times reported that Tony Bennett “has not just bridged the generation gap, he has demolished it”. Bennett and Lady Gaga have teamed up to produce a new album called ‘Cheek to Cheek’ to be released in September.

An article in the Phoenix Star entitled Age is not a Cage reports on a new concert series called ’90 and Growing Strong’ featuring 99-year-old pianist and composer Irving Fields and fellow musicians Fyvush Finkel and clarinetist Sol Yaged, both 91. The trio performed for a packed house earlier this month.

Proving that you are never too old to rock, the American Young@ Heart choir has been recruiting older adults (the average age is in the 80’s) to perform contemporary music in schools, community centres, prisons and concert halls since 1982. The award winning Young@Heart: Rock and Roll Will Never Die documentary chronicles the choir’s humour, enthusiasm and courage tackling punk classics such as ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ by the Clash or ‘I Wanna be Sedated’ by the Ramones.

Don’t have any past experience playing music? It’s never to late to learn. Check out Millicent Randle’s dream come true as she plays the drums for the first time at 100 years old.



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