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Script And Playlist For A Successful Aging Presentation For Older Adults

A successful aging program often emphasizes stress reduction, participating in activities that strengthen connection with others and staying physically active. In keeping with those goals, in the sample program below, the group practices deep breathing, sings familiar songs together and does upper body movements to music.

Background: They meet regularly for sessions on nutrition and maintaining an active lifestyle.

Goal for this session: Optimizing quality of life by keeping physically active, connecting with others and breathing deeply.

About this audience: Ages: 70-89. This is a 30-45 – minute session for 30-40 people. We have two musicians presenting: a violinist or violist and a cellist.

Part 1. Practice deep breathing:

Lead diaphragm breathing (wind and brass players can make suggestions on how to do this) Do you notice anything different? Answers might include I feel dizzy, I feel sleepy, I feel more awake, or sorry, I have to leave. The more varied the answers the better!

By practicing this type of breathing you become more in touch with your body and can take a nap, have some coffee or otherwise deal with what your body is telling you when you are ready to hear it.

Pick songs to sing from the listings in the playbook, below. Play along as they sing. Have them help you choose what to sing next. After singing a few songs, ask  if  they notice anything different or if anything changed. Answers might include: singing together makes me feel like we are more of a group, or I feel more alert, or when I practice breathing I get dizzy, but I don’t when I sing, or I can’t remember the last time I sang with other people. I think it was in summer camp.

All responses accepted!

Part 2. Do upper body movements to music:

Have their exercise instructor, if they have one, show your audience movements for them to follow as you play short pieces from your playbook that are in three.  Then try pieces in two or four. What do they notice? They may have already done exercises without music, so they will notice a change when you are accompanying their movements. You can ask them about what they observe.

An exercise instructor or yoga professional has a better idea of what movements are safe and helpful for maintaining strength and flexibility. But if one is not available the exercise leader could also be a volunteer from your audience. The group will enjoy having someone they know lead the movements!

Ask “How does your movement change when the rhythm is in three versus two or four?”

Part 3. Introduce your players and instruments and play something written for your instrument that you particularly like, that tells them something about you, or that you think they might find interesting. Selections might include a movement from a Bach Suite, Sonata or Partita, a tango, Recuerdos de la Alhambra arranged for viola, a scordatura fiddle piece, or something else that engages you and that they might like. Your piece should be relatively short, and upbeat.

Part 4. Give thanks. Play a thank you song such as Simple Gifts, Saturday Night Waltz, or Cavalleria Rusticana to leave them with something optimistic and hopeful.

The Playbook:

Bach Gavotte (has a melody over a drone, a sustained G)

Songs with piano reduction and words:

  • Let me call you sweetheart
  • Summertime Gershwin
  • Somewhere over the rainbow
  • Loch Lomond
  • Take me out to the ballgame
  • Blue skies
  • Shenandoah
  • Molly Malone
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Amazing Grace. This may not be appropriate if the audience is of a different religion or if the song reminds them of a funeral!
  • Pennsylvania Polka or some other sports song
  • Danny Boy
  • Scarborough Fair

Instrumental music:

  • Waldteufel Skaters Waltz
  • [Ashokan Farewell. Might be too closely associated with death or funerals]
  • Sicilienne Paradis
  • Signal Mountain Sunrise (originally for bagpipe)
  • Mouret Rondeau (Masterpiece theater theme)
  • Haydn St Anthony chorale
  • WA Mozart Papageno’s Song
  • Bizet Carmen
  • Bartok Rumanian Dances: Mountain Horn Song, Sash Dance.
  • Puccini O Mio Babbino Caro
  • Copeland Saturday Night Waltz
  • Mascagni Cavalleria Rusticana

Questions to explore:

Assuming the above presentation happened a few years ago, what would you change if you presented to a current group of 60 to 79 year olds?  Singing as a group: What was their favorite music to sing when they were in their early twenties or late teens? What music might the group all know? What is their favorite instrumental music?

What would you change if the group was a mix of African-Americans and Latinos as well as Caucasian? What are your assumptions? They are probably inaccurate! Who works with these populations that could give you suggestions?   How about if you ask the group what are their favorite songs to sing? How does this differ from your assumptions?

What would you change in the instrumental selections?

You could add a segment where you play a short piece that suggests a story, and ask what is happening in the story. What music would you choose?

Getting back to the hall

How can this experience change what orchestral works you present at the hall?

For more information on music and wellness visit http://wellness.pittsburghsymphony.org/

April 27, 2016

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