This was a very interesting one day event held at The Sage, Gateshead on 16th March, 2015 attended by various Elder Council members.
"Music is a space in which we can all relate to each other” - an opening statement made by Katherine Zeserson, the outgoing Director of Learning and Participation at the Sage. This proved to be a true theme for the community music day and Katherine had us all, quite literarily, singing and relating to each other by the end of her session.
"Silver Community Music" had a continuing presence. There were enjoyable silver performances throughout the day, starting with the ukuleles and singing of "The Silver Stars", followed by the choir "The Silver Breves", then the rock group "Black 'n' Blue" and a finale from "The Silver Chorus".
Community music is a broad label for the bringing in and nurturing the development of music and musical activities in all and any community. Much can be packed into "the community music box" from concerts, choir visits, education opportunities and of particular importance is the encouragement of participation in all types of music making- by members of the community. We learnt that an international research centre for community music is set up at St. Johns University in York. The Sage embraces community music in a very big and positive way. It is one of the country’s pre-eminent community music centres. The Silver Programme ("Music Making and Learning for the Over 50") is an excellent example of this.
The afternoon sessions informed us of the very positive effect of music and music making for raising and maintaining the quality of life for older people. First, Dr. Andrea Creech, of UCL, Institute of Education, in her presentation “Everyone Deserves Music" gave a very down to earth academic view of the very positive effect that music participation can make for older people and cited the results of the "Music for Life Project" . This found in three detailed case studies that senior citizens who participated in music had higher levels of purpose, autonomy and control as well as social affirmation.
In the second session of the afternoon, the positive and enjoyment effects of music in lives of older people were very much brought home by the presentation of the "Silver Researchers". These programme participants have carried out 4 years of research into the Silver Programme at the Sage. The presentation covered the 10 years of the "Silver Programme"- Music Making and Learning for People Over 50". By the end of this presentation none could doubt the benefits and enjoyment given by the programme - factors well known to Elder Council members who already participate. All the performances throughout the day by various Silver Music Groups amplified the sense of purpose and enjoyment given by music and music making. So let’s all have more community music!
Alan Gower and Rima Karam