Older Americans Month 2013Older American Month is just around the corner (in May). The Administration on Aging has put together some great resources for those making plans to celebrate. Here’s another thought – unleash the power of age by joining seniors in song.

Intergenerational groups can be a powerful way to unleash this power in all generations involved. Let me be honest – a single time visit is nice, but it doesn’t allow for relationships to develop, for giving by all involved, or as powerful an experience for all.

In my community, I facilitate relationships between preschoolers and older adults through music groups. By gathering together for several weeks, power is unleashed by all ages. Relationships develop between members. The elders are able to observe skills develop in the children that they have nurtured and supported in the sessions. The children often go from being shy to shave hands to bravely saying goodbye to individual grands (and sometimes exchanging hugs).

Intergenerational and multigenerational choirs are becoming more common. Dr. Natalie Wlodarczyk, Ph.D., MT-BC at Drury University and Melita Belgrave, Ph.D., MT-BC at UMKC are two amazing music therapists facilitating these types of programs here in the midwest. (If you have a program, please shout it out in the comments below.)

If faciitating teens or college students with sages is your preferred way to unleash the power of age with song, here are some power songs that might just fit the bill. Singing, discussing the lyrics or writing new lyrics are just a few options. A few recommndations are here to get you started.

  •  Power to the People – John Lennon: With the repeated line, this would be easy to sing and add new lyrics from what the group thinks empowers people.
  • I Am Woman Hear Me Roar – Helen Reddy: With the greying of the population, piggy back lyrics such as “I am aging hear me… in numbers too big too ignore…” commenting on the good and the challenges of aging.
  • Positive Power – Jack Hartmann: This is an educational song that totally fits the idea of unleashing the power of any person.
  • If You Believe – from The Wiz: “…that time cannot change the path that you must go” would be a great topic to discuss with a group – pro and con.
  • True Colors – Cyndi Lauper: Do the members like to share their true selves with others? Why or why not? Has that view changed as you aged?
  • What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction: Can all types of people light up a room? Is everyone beautiful?
  • All of Me – by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons: Pulling out a classic can increase the comfort of seniors. This song can handle being sung in a variety of styles as the many recording over the years demonstrate.

I challenge you to unleash the power of age by engaging people in song. No matter the age groups you wish to facilitate, come explore our Intergenerational Session Cafe membership. In addition to dozens of session plans, you’ll receive tons of tips for creating your program. 

Are you interested in joining preschoolers with older adults? Purchase an affordable resource filled with ideas: “Sparking Lives with Themes and Music”.