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Benefits of Music for Seniors
It is generally accepted that musical activities can have beneficial results for the elderly. These benefits come in different forms for different people depending on their circumstances.
“Music therapy” is a well-established method of helping people with physical and cognitive disabilities caused by conditions such as dementia. “MT” as it is often referred to involves passive activities such as listening to music under controlled conditions. But it can also include singing, drumming or tapping and playing other simple instruments such as harmonics.
Research has shown that the relaxing effects of music lead to better social interactions and often improve communication skills, which they experience as a result of a stroke or as a result of an injury or other illness. .
For what we might call “ordinary” seniors, music is often used in retirement communities and senior centers in the form of special musical entertainment, singing, and even dance classes.
Participants are encouraged to join in singing, clapping and dancing to old standards. This type of music experience provides pleasant and enjoyable social interactions, valuable physical activity and positive emotional arousal.
Can older people benefit from playing an instrument?
Listening to music can be emotional, but it is passive. Can older people benefit from being actively involved in making music – for example, singing or playing an instrument?
Of course, it depends a lot on the elderly and on the equipment. Many older people have physical limitations that make grasping a violin or guitar finger almost impossible. But those same people can benefit from joining the drum circle.
Participants in such activities quickly engage in making fun music, even dancing, singing and singing.
As Shannon Rattigan of drumcircles.net says
If the coordinated drum circle is properly displayed in 10 minutes, you can all play the drums together … you can improvise, play around and just have a good time. Like we used to do when we were kids.
Can this be done with other devices?
Again, it depends a lot on the elderly and on the equipment.
Many older people play musical instruments when they are young and stop playing when family and work are involved. I often read on music teaching forums comments from older people (mostly seeming men) who picked up the guitar after sitting in a closet for 40 years.
Yes, 40 years! That is not an exaggeration. I am an example. I played guitar and trumpet in my teens and twenties and did not catch it again until I was 60 years old.
The motivation for me was the opportunity to teach some of my grandchildren what I knew. And that led to many opportunities to perform with them in family reunions. And, of course, that brings the joy that comes with watching children become great musicians. Skilled in their own rights.
The key is to be able to remove old talents if the circumstances are right. Reviving old talents and playing in a small informal band with friends or family is a possibility.
Retirement communities seem to be the perfect place for a group of people to get together and make music together in a more structured way – say a chorus or a small band.
Skilled community leaders in older communities can form larger bands using simple or simple instruments such as trumpets, harmonica, and percussion instruments (tambourine drums, cocktails, etc.).
Play classical instruments
Is it certain that people in their 70s or 80s would continue to play classical instruments such as keyboards, guitars or trumpets? Or could he learn a whole new instrument, such as a keyboard or banjo, harmonica, or even a saxophone or guitar?
Again, it depends on the circumstances in which a person finds himself, especially her physical limitations. Many older people have lost flexibility in their arms. They may have back or hip pain that makes it difficult to sit in the position required by some equipment. And often older people find it difficult to see or hear.
If nothing comes to catch people, why not go for it!
But there are always questions of motivation.
Learning to play instruments like the piano – even in the most basic way – has real benefits. It gives pleasure, emotional stimulation and a sense of accomplishment. And that may be enough motivation for you to embrace (and stick to) projects like self-teaching musical instruments.
But playing for your pleasure is often not enough to motivate you to keep going. Playing an instrument or even singing in a small group almost inevitably involves opportunities to perform for others – usually friends, family, or community members.
On the other hand, it is often just an expectation to perform for others that keeps the musician moving forward. Taking music lessons when you are young almost always includes “chanting” every now and then to show what you have learned. Without the practice of silk, it begins to seem pointless.
There is no reason to think it should be different for the elderly. My dad played his violin in church for at least 50 years and it was a “performance” that got him interested in playing. As his college started to get worse and the invitations dried up, he became interested in playing.
It is this kind of performance that provides the motivation to become a better person and to learn new material or for older people to hold on to skills they have previously developed in life.
So I would answer “yes” to the question “Can an old person like me learn a new tool?” It will give you pleasure as well as emotional and spiritual stimulation. And it will give you something meaningful to do with your time.
But do not leave it to yourself. Play for friends and family. Join a group or create a group. Enjoy being a musician and share the joy with others.
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