According to the 2010 US census, the number of people 65 and older jumped 15.1 percent between 2000 and 2010. They now make up 13 percent (over 40 million) of the total population, compared with 12.4 percent in 2000 and 4.1 percent in 1900. The quality of life for many seniors is enriched by participating in music activities, and the physical, psychological and social benefits have been documented in various studies. There’s no need to look any further than the seventy member Golden Tones chorus in Wayland, Massachusetts to see this first hand.
The Golden Tones chorus performs nearly 50 concerts a year in senior citizen residences, schools, faith communities and public events reaching more than 2,000 people. Now in their 29th year, their members come from 17 nearby towns to rehearse each week and to engage in community service projects. In 2013, they collaborated with the Wayland Middle School Select Chorus and more recently with the Natick High School Advanced Choir to present intergenerational joint concerts. “Some members have choral experience, and others are at a point in their lives where they want to try something new,” explained their conductor, Deborah Marion, in a recent interview. “In fact, we’re now singing a song from the musical ‘Mame.’ The lyrics are ‘Open a new window, open a new door. Travel a new highway that’s never been tried before.’ Everyone loves that song because it has such a positive message.”
The group was profiled by Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a 2009 story on CNN extolling the health benefits of singing into one’s 70s, 80s, and 90s.