Harmonizing Generations: When All Ages Explore the Magic of Music Together
Imagine sitting at a family or friend gathering, with many generations in attendance – from seven to eighty-seven. Imagine while you are sitting around a large table the host asks the simple question:
“What music have you been drawn to lately” What would YOUR answer be?
Curiosity plays an important role in maintaining cognitive function, mental health, and physical health in older adults – and there is nothing more fun than being curious about people’s music preferences. The answers may (always) surprise you!
This can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of intergenerational music and provide tips on how to engage all ages and abilities into its fun.
The Benefits of Intergenerational Music
- Social Connection
Intergenerational music brings people from different age groups together, creating a sense of community and social connection. It provides an opportunity for people to interact with others who they might not normally have the chance to meet. This can be particularly beneficial for older adults who may be at risk of social isolation.
- Cognitive Stimulation
Music-making activities provide cognitive stimulation and can improve memory, attention, and executive function. This is particularly important for children and older adults, as it can help with learning and prevent cognitive decline.
- Physical Activity
Music often involves physical movement, which is beneficial for people of all ages. It can improve motor skills and coordination, and provide a low-impact workout. Intergenerational music-making can be a fun way to feel inspired, stay active and connected.
- Emotional Well-Being
Music has the power to evoke emotions and can be a powerful tool for emotional expression. Intergenerational music-making can provide a sense of joy and happiness, while reducing feelings of loneliness. It can also provide an opportunity for people to express themselves in new and creative ways.
Tips for Making Music Together!
- Learn about all the diverse music preferences of others (from the Littles to the Bigs): Engage in conversations by asking open-ended questions like, “What type of music have you been drawn to lately?” or “What artist or band do you feel has something important to say?” or “What music makes you feel good every time you hear it?” Be genuinely curious and attentive to their responses, and encourage everyone, from young to older, to share their thoughts, memories, or emotions associated with specific songs or genres.
- Put together an intergenerational playlist for a gathering: When selecting music for your gathering collect songs in advance and create the ultimate mixtape. By getting everyone involved there will be music from different decades and genres prompting lots of conversation starters.
- Place random instruments around the room: Provide a variety of instruments to choose from, including percussion instruments, keyboards, and string instruments. This will allow people of all ages and abilities to gravitate towards something, pick it up, and hopefully play. Consider providing instruments that require minimal instruction, such as shakers, wood blocks, and tambourines. Don’t forget about new curiosities by sharing world instruments that people can learn about (having their name and origin on cards near by).
- Encourage new collaborations: Instead of a board game encourage people from different age groups to work together and collaborate on music-making activities. This could include singing together, playing instruments together, or writing a song together. Consider pairing participants of different ages together to promote teamwork making the dream work. And if creating music feels a little overwhelming I can assure you lip-syncing will always a good time.
One great way to bring intergenerational music into your gatherings is through a playlist that features songs from different decades and genres. Our featured Spotify playlist is a great example of this. It includes classic hits from the 60s and 70s, as well as modern pop and indie songs. By listening to these songs together, people of all ages can share in the joy and memories associated with them. For older adults, it can be a trip down memory lane, while for children and young adults, it can be a chance to discover new music and learn about the musical tastes of different generations. So, next time you’re planning a gathering, consider creating a playlist that will appeal to everyone’s musical preferences and bring people of all ages together through the power of music.
When New Tech Makes You Feel Old
In the interest of creating an equitable playing field so everyone can enjoy music equally, I encourage every reader to be mindful of differences in preferences, cultures, and levels of accessibility. Just because we have access does not mean everyone does. It is easy to forget that many people have little or no Wi-Fi service, for example. And although the pandemic seems to have accelerated governments addressing the “digital divide,” the new policies, regulation, and infrastructure will take time.
If you are feeling too old for all this new technology, or you are having a hard time keeping up with it all, I get it. If you struggle to access your music or to upload songs onto a personal listening device, or even if you don’t own one yet, there is a great solution— ask for help. I assure you, you are not alone. I meet many people who for some reason or another are not equipped to put together a playlist. Find a person in your life who would benefit as much from learning about your music and stories as you stand to gain from their help in learning about music technologies. Together, we all win.
Intergenerational music is a powerful tool for creating social connections and improving cognitive and emotional well-being. By following these tips, you can make music fun for people of all ages and abilities. Whether you’re playing music with your friends, family, or community members, intergenerational music-making can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved. So gather your instruments and let’s make some music together!