Maxx Music is launching a new music program especially for people over the age of 55 years. Sessions will be held in the music school and newly created Community Room both of which are conveniently located in the heart of Rouse Hill Town Centre.
Sally Baitch, Maxx Music’s Community Music Coordinator, has great plans for the program. Previously Head of Community and Adult Learning at Sage Gateshead in the north of England, she is no stranger to finding way to involve people in music, even when they don’t know they want to be involved. “Singing has always played a big part in my life and I have seen how singing and playing an instrument, particularly as part of a group, can really change people’s lives. I’ve met people in their sixties and seventies, who haven’t sung since they were told they couldn’t at school. They were brave enough to come to one of our singing groups or events and discovered that they could sing. Not only that, but it was fun and made them feel confident, happy and part of something amazing.” She continues, “When I moved to Rouse Hill almost 3 years ago, I was very impressed by the amount and variety of adult learning opportunities that were available. However, I noticed that there were very few musical groups for people to join, and those that did exist were took place at night which might stop some older people or those reliant on public transport from taking part. So I thought, why not try to create some fun, accessible, musical activities as part of my role with Maxx Music?”
Listening to and participating in music has been proved to be very beneficial to the health and wellbeing of everyone. However, there are particular benefits for seniors, who may be facing a variety of life changing situations and challenges such as retirement, poor health or bereavement. The Sidney de Haan Centre for Health and Wellbeing has undertaken research into the effects of being part of a community choir for older people. There were several very positive key findings, including the health of those who were in the singing groups being consistently better than that of the people who weren’t. This health improvement lasted for 3 months after they stopped singing. Participants in the singing groups also reported social, emotional and physical health benefits from taking part. People who had taken part in the singing groups were very positive about their experience, saying “I started my participation in this project just after I retired from work and feeling a little anxious about future life. This project has been instrumental in showing me there is life after work” and “After every session I was very alert and charged up with the ‘feel good’ factor.”
Initially, the program will consist of a Seniors Choir and a Senior Ukulele group, both of which will meet during the day and aim to be as much a social occasion as a music session. Both groups will be learning familiar music, with some surprises too. The groups will be suitable for singers and musicians of all abilities, with absolute beginners being particularly welcome. The tutors promise they will never make you sing or play on your own (unless you really want to!). There are ambitions to grow the program to include bands and other group opportunities as well as reduced price 1-1 lessons for seniors during the day.
The ukulele group will be led by Arthur Ongley, who founded Parramatta and Hills Ukulele Network (PHUN) with his wife in 2008. They discovered the ukulele whilst on holiday in Hawaii and it has played a huge part in their lives ever since. Arthur has partnered with Maxx Music a few times over the last year, most notably for Adult Learners Week, as a result of which he and his wife were invited onto Weekend Sunrise to let the presenters Have a Go. He describes the ukulele as “a very sociable instrument. It’s wonderful when people get together and all play ukulele.” For Maxx Music, their existing relationship with Arthur, and the suitability of the ukulele as an instrument for people who haven’t played anything before, made it a clear choice to be one of the program’s first groups. Ben Finn, owner of Maxx Music says “The ukulele is a great instrument to try. It is a happy instrument, affordable, small enough to take anywhere, and it is one of the easiest instruments to get started on. It’s also a great workout for your fingers, helping to keep them flexible and mobile.” Maxx Music even have some ukuleles available for you to use during your first class if you’d like to try before you buy!
The choir will be led by John-Paul Turner, an experienced singer and passionate vocal leader. As well as the choir, he will be helping aspiring singers to discover the singing voices they never knew they had at three stand alone “Find Your Voice” sessions which will be held in June and are suitable for anyone and everyone.
To find out more about the Seniors Program and other musical opportunities being offered by Maxx Music, visit the Community Music page on their website www. maxxmusic.com.au, or call Sally on (02) 8882 9491
Class times and prices:
Senior Ukulele Group
Starts Thursday 25 May 1-2pm $50 for 5 week term ($40 for NSW Senior Card holders) $12 per class ($10 for NSW Senior Card holders)
Starts Tuesday 30 May 1-2.30pm $50 for 5 week term ($40 for NSW Senior Card holders)* * To enable the choir to progress and develop we are asking for a minimum 5 week commitment.
Find Your Voice
Saturday 17 June 10.30-12.30pm Tuesday 20 June 7pm-9pm Saturday 24 June 10.30am-12.30pm $7 Classes will be held in Maxx Music Lesson Central, Rouse Hill Town Centre until the Community Room opens in mid-July