It’s a spring afternoon at the Waltham Council on Aging building. You push open the door and walk into the lobby, where the sound of voices floats around the corner. You hear some piano chords, some oohing and aahing. Turning right, you spot a group of older adults stretching up to the high ceiling, their faces in concentration. Watch City Singers is in session.
In 2017, Powers Music School staff were fortunate enough to participate in the National Guild for Community Arts Education’s program Catalyzing Creative Aging, where we learned strategies and tactical plans for creating and running effective arts programs for older adults.
Armed with this knowledge, Powers began Watch City Singers, a choral group for participants at Waltham Council on Aging that aims to not only teach vocal technique and choral skills, but to give singers a greater sense of self-esteem, purpose, and dignity. Just one of many creative aging programs across the nation, Watch City assumes that these older adults are capable of a high standard of learning and music-making than is typically found in senior centers and nursing homes.
Here’s how Waltham COA Director Marybeth Duffy explains it:
Watch City Singers is what we call a “sequential skill-building class” – participants build on the skills they’re learning week by week, working towards a final culminating event. Each week features warm-ups, mindfulness, social engagement activities, progressive skill-building in voice and music concepts, and repertoire selected by the participants themselves. At the final session, participants give a public performance to showcase the skills they’ve learned for friends and family.
Marybeth shares her observations:
The true impact of guiding older adults to keep learning and growing is profound – Watch City Singers improves quality of life, giving participants new friendships, a reason to stay socially connected, and a sense that they’re still a valued member of society. And let’s not forget the positive physical effects of combatting social isolation, depression, and disease.
In short, Watch City brings back these participants’ zest for life.
Watch City Singers Director Mary Cunningham shares her thoughts about the program and its impact:
To keep the beautiful music of the Watch City Singers flowing, we rely on the additional support of grants, government funds, and private donors. We were thrilled to have support from the Waltham Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, for the 2022-2023 year. Thank you to the supporters who have already helped these older adults let their voices be heard!
Ready to get some seniors singing?
Reach out to Executive Director Gavin Farrell at email@example.com with your questions and ideas for support.