Musical Activities for Seniors & Elderly

Written by danielle hill
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Musical Activities for Seniors & Elderly
Use music to create uplifting activities for seniors. (smiling grandmother image by robert mobley from

Music can enliven seniors' days, reawakening nostalgic memories, inspiring movement and creating community. When planning activities for the elderly, select music that is age-appropriate and uplifting. Over the course of a year, you can create continuity among your musical activities by adopting musical themes, practicing singalongs or selecting seasonal pieces.

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To create successful singalongs for seniors, you'll need to select familiar songs that your crowd recognises. Depending on the size of the group, you can either print out sheets with the lyrics or display them on an overhead projector so that everyone can follow along as they sing. If you have audiovisual capabilities, consider using a karaoke program or setting up a PowerPoint presentation to project the text with highlighting or a "bouncing ball" element to follow along with the song. Keep in mind that, depending on the group's ability, seniors will generally take somewhat longer than a younger group to master any given song. You may need to repeat the same song several times.

Name That Song

For a high-functioning group of seniors, replace the bane of blaring television trivia shows with an engaging real-life game of "Name That Song." Play short clips of various well-known songs and have the seniors guess which song you're playing. Once someone has identified the song correctly, play it through so all can enjoy the full piece. Tailor your play list to the age of the group, selecting the most famous melodies of their young adult years. As you get to know your group, you can also create play lists that reflect their interests, mixing up genres such as classical, classic rock and roll, soul, jazz or opera.

Music Appreciation Class

Curious seniors may enjoy learning something new about famous musical works. Plan a music appreciation class based around a few composers, musical styles or musical periods. Before each class, introduce the theme with pictures related to the piece. Give a short talk based on the surrounding musical context, whether a biography of the musician or a commentary on the musical style and the history of its era. Help your seniors to develop their ears, playing short clips of various songs from the same composer or era.

Relaxation Music

For seniors of all abilities, music is a wonderful means of providing relaxation and peace. Set up a structured time for your group of seniors to come together and sit quietly, listening to a piece with especially relaxing qualities. Arrange for a quiet room where you can do the activity, far from the clatter of kitchens, dining halls, social lounges or other noisy areas. If possible, hold the activity in a room with plenty of comfortable sofas and easy chairs.

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