Music is a remarkable force in our lives, bringing people together from all different cultures, backgrounds, and ages. For seniors, especially, music is more than just sound. It is a transformative power that can evoke forgotten memories and ignite a spark of joy in their hearts, creating a connection to the rich tapestry of their life experiences.
For the past two years, dedicated BeHASSTic volunteers have been performing at local senior centers, organizing a total of 7 performances at 4 different senior centers around Connecticut and in Chicago. This consistent presence has allowed BeHASSTic to establish a strong connection with the senior community, fostering a sense of anticipation and joy for each upcoming performance.
One of the most important benefits student performance at senior centers brings is the social interaction it provides. Performances allow seniors to broaden their social networks when they come together and allow them to create connections with others who they would not otherwise have interacted with. Senior residents are also able to engage and converse with young performers, building a stronger bond across different generations. For example, after one of BeHASSTic’s performances, a senior resident was so enthralled that she spent a heartfelt 20 minutes conversing with one of our young performers. Overflowing with joy, she eagerly shared how our music had resurfaced a wave of nostalgic memories from her own days as a professional organist, creating a truly cherished connection between generations through the power of music. These interactions can combat loneliness, something that over half of older adults feel.
Another benefit of student performances for senior residents is the sense of enjoyment and nostalgia it brings. Live music can raise people’s spirits and bring a pleasant and engaging feeling to the center. Furthermore, hearing students perform pieces that held meaning for them in their youth can bring back strong emotions and fond memories from when they were younger, allowing seniors to relieve some of that positivity in the present day. It may even spark renewed interest in pursuing an art-related hobby.
Student performances also can bring a series of health benefits to senior residents. Neurologic music therapist Kimberly Sena Moore said, “Your brain lights up like a Christmas tree when you listen to music…and you can use it as an intentional way for general wellness.” Music keeps the brain engaged: The vibrations music creates are transmitted through electrical signals that go through the auditory nerve to the brain stem; the brain must do a lot of computing to understand these electrical signals which is good for the brain in three key areas: creativity (challenges the brain to understand new sounds), memory recall (old memories can flood back quickly), and influences mood (music can generate the best feelings). These benefits are even greater for older adults who are dealing with age-related health issues such as high blood pressure, sleep quality, and memory loss.
The students putting on these performances benefit too. Young performers can show off their talents and develop their self-confidence and stage presence. For instance, a nervous BeHASSTic performer, initially trembling during his first performance, received a heartfelt compliment from a senior resident, and with each subsequent performance, his confidence soared. These interactions not only foster personal growth but also offer students a chance to give back to the community and forge genuine connections with older adults.
Student music performances at senior centers have the remarkable ability to foster social connections, bring happiness and enjoyment, and even promote health benefits among seniors. However, the impact of these performances extends beyond the elderly residents, as they also provide a deeply meaningful experience for the student performers themselves. With the profound impact it generates, BeHASSTic is thrilled to bring the community together around music and create a lasting sense of joy, connection, and shared purpose.