Holiday Retirement residents play music from the heart
Music fans know of music’s power to bring people together. It excites the spirit and soothes the soul, and is often no further away than the turn of a dial. For many residents at Holiday Retirement, though, it’s more than just passive entertainment, it’s serious fun.
“Everybody loves performing,” said Dave Beitler, event coordinator at Gresham Manor. “They’re all about the songs and the music.”
Creating music touches each community in real and significant ways, and adds something rich to the lives of everyone who takes part. It’s fun and social, but it also provides residents with important opportunities to work on their memory, recall skills and dexterity, as well as connect with their greater communities. Discover how music is touching lives at four Holiday Retirement communities.
The Gresham Manor Kazoo Band
At Gresham Manor, a senior living community in Gresham, Oregon, Beitler’s kazoo band has been going strong for almost five years. The group has a playlist of 120 songs, mostly from residents, including selections from the big band era, Gay Nineties, 1800s and songs from the band members’ childhoods. The residents also perform “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” before the opening pitch of the community’s bean bag baseball games.
The beat comes from the band’s three percussionists. Beitler said he bought a child’s drum set, and they took it apart and divvied up the pieces.
“One guy had [drumming] experience and then the other two people could spell the word ‘drum’ and that was about it,” he said. “But they keep up. There’s no piano, so any melody they achieve is all them.”
Beitler said he encourages residents to sing along without reading the words, using their memories whenever possible. He also uses old songs to help them with their recall.
“I’ll bring up a question to seniors about a big band song or whatever, and ask them how old they were when they first heard it,” said Beitler. “They’ll have to really think about that. We’ve got all ages. There’s one guy in his 90s and another in his 60s, so there’s quite a range.”
The Ukulele Players of Kalama Heights
For the ukulele band at Kalama Heights, a senior living community in Kihei, Hawaii, every practice is a performance. On Fridays, right after breakfast, 20–24 residents file in to watch the 12-person band that visits from town. Six to eight residents usually join in playing, while other residents sing or find other ways to participate.
“One gal who’s 87 actually gets up and does the hula with them,” said Susan Ingram, Kalama Heights event coordinator. “They love music - anything from swing to classical to the Great American Songbook, that kind of stuff.”
Like Beitler and his kazoo band, Ingram sees music as more than just entertainment, but as a vital mental exercise, as well as a connection to the past.
“It’s important to them because it brings back so many memories,” she said.
The Greenwood Terrace Choir
At Greenwood Terrace, a senior living community in Lenexa, Kansas, the choir is made up of 15–20 residents, along with two piano players from outside the community.
“It just makes them so happy,” said Jill Simpson, Greenwood Terrace’s enrichment coordinator. “They love to hear the singing, and they’re excited to perform. Some used to be performers and it’s an opportunity to get back into it.”
Simpson’s choir performs for holiday celebrations, like Mother’s Day and Easter, and loves to honor their veterans.
“For the Fourth of July, I got all the veterans to stand up, and they sang a song and it was just so beautiful. Everyone was crying,” she said. “It gives them a way to express themselves in a positive way. It’s good for vocal cords, and it’s good for their mentality.”
The Lake Ridge Village Kitchen Band
“We like to play funny little songs the audience can sing along to,” said Pat Campbell, event coordinator at Lake Ridge Village. “It’s a way to give back to the community. Not just ours but the community at large.”
The kitchen band at Lake Ridge Village, a senior living community in Eustis, Florida, gives regular community performances. They even have three different programs for community members to choose from: Christmas, Patriotic and Spring. The Spring program includes songs like “A Tisket A Tasket” and “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.”
“They play anything they want to play,” said Campbell, noting members use whisks as drumsticks and even an old washboard. “There’s a kid’s xylophone, a pan someone beats on, a bowl someone bangs, a triangle. It’s an eclectic mix of instruments.”
Enrichment coordinators across the more than 300 other senior living communities know that music is an important part of the Holiday Retirement experience.
“Music embodies the Layers of the Holiday Lifestyle,” said Campbell. “It’s intellectual because they remember the songs; it’s physical because they play their instruments; it’s emotional because they help one another. It’s all the layers combined into one...music lightens their day and brightens them up.”
Want some additional information about the benefits of living in a retirement community? Discover more about Holiday Retirement’s senior living communities.