When we travel through life connected to others, things change. The quality of that change, the paths that change takes us on are dependent upon those with whom we connect.
Humans are by nature social beings. That doesn’t mean we all love to be in a swarm of people. It doesn’t mean we all have social skills at the same “normal” level (whatever that may mean to you).
We need social interaction to maintain our emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Your personal setting may be different from mine.
Connections of generations
Many years ago it was common to live near an extended family. Grandparents, infants and everyone in-between lived nearby if not together. For many today this is not true.
But, there is reason to hope. We connect with others in and around us in our neighborhood, our community. There is a growing movement of intergenerational programs.
Music to connect generations
Music is something we can do alone. Yet choirs, bands, small groups are the norm. These groups provide us an opportunity to connect with others. Participants may be similar or different from us.
Often these intergenerational groups involve music. Preschool and seniors have been one these paths. (In fact, you’ll find many ideas and resources among these posts.) Intergenerational choirs of teens or college students with older adults are another.
These groups provide for cross-age interactions. Research from these groups shows improve cross-age attitudes.
Roadblocks to intergenerational music
Proximity and schedules can be roadblocks to these connections.
Finding others outside our place of residence may limit our access. How do we get there? How long will it take? Is the place we are meeting friendly to someone my age or with my abilities?
In a society full of people being busy, scheduling is another issue. Doctors appointments, transportation schedules, school hours, … the list of potential issues grows.
Removing the roadblocks to connections
Online and virtual interactions may not replace face-to-face interactions. They can serve as supplement or support to
Online and virtual interactions may not replace face-to-face interactions. They can serve as supplement or support to connecting people.
Belgrave and Kewon conducted a pilot study (1). They created choral collaboration between older adults (ages 61-79) and youths (ages 9-14). All participants were in choral groups.
This was a “4-week distance-based intergenerational program that consisted of:
- (a) two group “virtual” exchanges,
- (b) two reflective journals related to the “virtual” exchanges,
- (c) an in-person half-day music-therapy intergenerational workshop, and
- (d) a joint performance.”
The findings suggest that music therapists can foster cross-age interactions. Using this format, relationships between generations can be formed.
What can I do with this information?
Much depends upon situation and resources. The study points to potentials but not specifics.
Based upon this information and personal experience, here are some considerations.
Family members can:
Make use of virtual technology when available between family visits.
Share favorite music with each other.
Take part in sharing songs when you are visiting in person.
Provide training and support to those wanting to learn to use computers. Being sure this is done in a safe, appropriate, HIPPA compliant way is important.
Offer opportunities to create music together across generations and abilities. A performance need not be the target.
Consider being a part of further studies that explore and deepen this information
Music therapists can:
Make facilities and groups aware of your availability to be a part of community music making.
Learn more about using technology as a part of this process.
Consider being a part of further studies that explore and deepen this information.
Remember, when we travel through life connected to others, things change. We can all be a part of connected living across abilities and ages. Maybe it is reaching to a neighbor. Maybe it is asking to be connected to others.
Be a part of making quality changes. Be a part of forging paths that connect people. Your quality of life may depend upon it!
Want to be connected to resources for intergenerational groups? Check out Session Cafe membership to access even more support and session starters.Yes, I want more intergenerational support!
- Belgrave MJ and Keown DJ (2018) Examining Cross-Age Experiences in a Distance-Based Intergenerational Music Project: Comfort and Expectations in Collaborating With Opposite Generation Through “Virtual” Exchanges. Front. Med. 5:214. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2018.00214