By Anne Smith
When was the last time you learned something new – when you opened yourself up to the excitement of being a beginner? One of the perks of adulthood is that we get to do the things at which we excel. As Director of Community Partnerships at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), no one pushes me to conjugate Latin verbs or play basketball anymore. Jump shots are not a part of my job description and so they have fallen away. Studies show, though, that learning a new skill, especially through music, is beneficial for us as we age. Active participation in the arts improves cognitive function, builds community, and facilitates self-expression.
A year ago, I sat down with my SSC colleagues to discuss how we might increase participation in the arts by those aged 18+. The result of that very fruitful brainstorming meeting was a yearlong strategy to welcome grownups into the SSC community through performances, classes and lessons: our Adult Learning initiative.
In addition to private lessons and classes at our two campuses, we committed to providing opportunities for participation in community-based programming through partnerships with local Councils on Aging, senior centers, residential communities and assisted living facilities. At the end of our first year, SSC adult music programs are thriving all over the South Shore. A ukulele band is going strong at the Hingham Council on Aging. In Norwell, seniors gather for a drum circle once a month. Kripalu’s adaptive dance program Shake Your Soul® meets once a week in Kingston. All programs are carefully designed to challenge adult minds, stimulate creativity, and build vibrant social connections. Through our Adult Learning initiative, we’ve extended access to the arts to over 500 new participants this year.
Since the fall, Barbara Farnsworth, Director of the Hingham Council on Aging, has booked six sessions of ukulele classes. “I have a colleague who learned to play the ukulele and found it to be great fun and had made many friend,” she told me. “I was looking for something new and different to offer at the Senior Center, and thought that the ukulele fit that description. To be quite honest, I was very surprised to see the level of interest both at the beginning and as we continued to offer subsequent sessions. SSC’s John McCarthy has been wonderful to work with, and those who have taken the classes now have a new talent.”
To celebrate adult learning through the arts, SSC invites everyone to Community MusicFest 2017, on Saturday, June 24 from 4-6 pm in our Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive. A line-up of lively performances includes solo acts by SSC adult students as well as SSC Community Voices Chorus and an adult percussion ensemble. Guest performers include Plymouth-based acapella group, Friends in Song. Cohasset-based Rusty Skipper Concert Band headlines. Formed in 1995, The Rusty Skippers play an entertaining pops-style program of marches, jazz, Broadway, and light classical music.
Come enjoy a picnic on the lawn while you listen! Admission is free. Island Dawgs, owned by SSC parents Laurie and Chris Igo, will provide steamed hotdogs with all the fixings, snacks including chips, pretzels, etc., soft drinks and water and Slushies! For more information, contact Beth MacLeod Largent at email@example.com or 781-749-7565 x20.
And of course, if you’ve always wanted to try the cello or take up singing, we would love to have you join our community of active, joyful learners. It’s never too late to try something new! Contact Student/Faculty Liaison Jessica Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 781-749-7565 x37 to schedule a trial lesson. Or visit http://www.sscmusic.org to see what’s here for you.