During the ongoing pandemic, musical engagement can be uplifting, especially for older adults.
As the long winter continues, Encore Creativity for Older Adults, the nation’s largest choral organization for people 55 and over, remains committed to keeping the older population singing and learning.
The nonprofit will offer a new session of its popular Encore University, a 15-week virtual program of singing plus enrichment courses in vocal technique, music theory, music history and movement. The session will culminate with a virtual spring concert, an inspiring multimedia production. No prior music experience is necessary. Class sessions meet via Zoom and are scheduled between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday, Jan. 25 to Thursday, May 13.
Encore’s fall session drew more than 800 older adults from across the country and as far away as Canada and Austria. Brenda Meyer, who had been singing with Encore’s programs in Northern Virginia, is grateful for the new virtual curriculum. “What a wonderful thing Encore has done for so many of us who must be at home during the pandemic,” said Meyer.
New courses include Great Choral Masterworks, A History of Black Classical Composers, Yoga for Singers, and a nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll history class, California Dreamin’. Five different voice teachers will lead classes in vocal technique, and world-renowned percussionist Tom Teasley will hold Rhythm Happy Hours.
“Isolation looms large for older adults during this time,” said Jeanne Kelly, founder and artistic director of Encore Creativity for Older Adults. “Our goal is to keep them engaged with singing, classes and activities that bring joy.” According to a survey by AARP Research, active musical engagement, especially for those over 50, was connected to higher rates of happiness and cognitive function.
The winter-spring chorale repertoire includes “Caged Bird,” based on a Maya Angelou poem, “Make Them Hear You” from the musical Ragtime, and “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Rock ‘n’ roll selections include “More Than a Feeling,” “Good Lovin’” and “Dedicated to the One I Love.”
For Sentimental Journey Singers, Encore’s choir for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s and other memory impairments and their care partners, weekly rehearsals incorporate chair yoga dances, singing/memory games and exercises. Songs include “Mambo Italiano,” “It Had to Be You,” “High Hopes” and other favorites.
Along with Kelly and Teasley, Encore’s faculty comprises well-known conductors, musicians and teachers from the Washington, D.C. area, New York City and California.
Founded in 2007 and based in Annapolis, Md., Encore Creativity for Older Adults remains committed during this pandemic to its mission to provide an excellent and accessible arts education program for older adults regardless of ability or experience.
For more information and to register, go to encorecreativity.org.