Hello, everybody! My name is Rachel DeMicco and I have one of the best jobs in the world. Every week, I get to sing, dance and play with young children and their families through an early education program called Music Together® . Through these special classes, I also have the opportunity to connect with all different kinds of people, including the wonderful residents at Pleasant Trees Personal Care Home.
If you stop by Pleasant Trees on a Wednesday morning, you may be surprised by what you see and hear. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers drumming and swinging scarves along with their grown ups and some new adults in their lives, their “Grandfriends”. At Music Together Generations™ classes, people of all ages come together to share the fun and benefits of hands-on music making. Regardless of age or ability, everyone is invited to participate in rich music activities that include singing, dancing, clapping, tapping, and jamming with instruments.
Music is an essential part of being human. Hands-on music learning in early childhood supports all kinds of learning and builds a lifelong love of music. While Music Together’s core program serves families with children ages 0-5, it’s a natural extension of that core mission to include intergenerational experiences where families attend class with elders at a senior day or residential facility. The elders, affectionately referred to as “Grandfriends”, participate in class at their own level creating a kind of extended musical “family”.
There are so many shared benefits for elders and young children who make music together. Singing engages the whole brain. Studies show that an elder’s active engagement with music provides a host of benefits for the older brain, increasing oxygen and blood flow, stimulating focused attention, activating memory, even temporarily mitigating the symptoms of dementia. Music also lights up the young child’s brain, stimulating and strengthening important neural connections for music as well as for other areas of learning. Music has physical benefits too. For both young and old, singing engages the body, exercising the lungs, stimulating major and minor muscle groups (tap those toes!), and promoting coordination. For children, music learning is multisensory: important knowledge happens through experiencing movement, both through their own bodies and by watching others move.
Music Together directors like myself are so proud to be bringing people together across generations in our communities. We are bringing back something essential that’s been lost: “intergenerational music-making.” When people of all ages make music in a community with their voice and body, they often experience “belonging,” being part of something deeply important and purposeful. Singing creates memories, old and new. Music can spark the recall of past experiences for elders, even those with dementia. Making music in an intergenerational setting can also help elders create new memories, through pleasurable shared experiences. For parents and children, relationships with “Grandfriends” can really blossom over time. This is particularly meaningful for those who do not live near their family of origin and may not have regular contact with their elders.
I am very excited to partner with the wonderful people at Pleasant Trees Personal Care Home to bring these classes to our community! We are planning a weekly Generations class starting this January and would love for your family to join us. And invite others to come along, maybe some friends from a playgroup or your child’s preschool class. Caregivers are welcomed as well; a sitter or other family member may attend class with your child.
For more information on upcoming Rachel’s Music Together classes, visit www.mtwithrachel.com or call or text (570) 778-6128. Rachel DeMicco, Center Director & Registered Teacher. Rachel’s Music Together is licensed by Music Together, LLC.
Music Together is an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children birth through age seven. The Music Together curriculum was coauthored in 1987 by Kenneth K. Guilmartin (Founder/Director) and Rowan University Professor of Music Education Dr. Lili M. Levinowitz (Director of Research) and offers programs for families; schools; at-risk populations; and children with special needs, in over 2000 communities in more than 40 countries.