Engaging Residents with Music

Engaging Residents with Music

Countless studies show the benefits of engaging patients, residents, family members and staff when delivering quality care.  So it should be no surprise that our work heavily focuses on improving levels of engagement and sharing best practices with others.

During a 2015 organizational assessment, consultant Denise Boudreau-Scott reported, “The recreation team is ambitious and motivated, and has created a number of programs that residents enjoy. They are the perfect team to take resident engagement a notch higher.”

Recently I had the pleasure of catching up with this client, Atrium Senior Living of Princeton, who continues to implement new programs for increased engagement.

During my visit, Pam Singer, Activities Coordinator at Atrium Senior Living of Princeton, shared a number of their best practices (look out for a follow up blog!), many of them focusing on a love of music.

Atrium Senior Living of Princeton started a glee club four years ago which also participates in fundraising opportunities.  They have raised over a thousand dollars for local and national charities!


I was lucky enough to see the “Oldies but Goodies Glee Club” exercise their talents last June when they performed at the NJ Alliance for Culture Change 1st annual connect forum. I was particularly blown away by one resident, John— if he ever decides to try out for America’s Got Talent, I’ll definitely tune in!

One year later, I sat next to John as we participated in a Music Together Generations class.  Generations is an intergenerational class offered through a partnership between Atrium and Music Together. Parents enroll in the music classes with their children and it is hosted at a senior site.  Elders participate in the classes with visiting community members.  As I sat in the bistro alongside two elders, I myself sang, laughed, danced in my chair, and even wept happy tears watching these sweet little toddlers with their starry-eyed mom’s (and one dad!) interact with each other and with the elders.

30% of Atrium’s residents participated in this class alongside me, each and every one of them actively engaged.  Two-thirds of these residents also participate in glee club.

Music Together’s CEO and veteran instructor, Susan Darrow, explained to me that Generations incorporates both traditional Music Together songs, as well as songs that “grandfriends” know and love.  Each class begins with a warm welcome song, “Hello Everybody,” which captures attention and invites group participation. This is not a “music and memory” class, but I assure you that Atrium Senior Living of Princeton and Music Together Generations are making beautiful memories together.  They even managed to evoke some personal memories for me of my father!

This program offers many benefits to community members and residents; here are just a few I observed:

  • Parents and children bonding together while they sing, dance and practice their motor skills
  • Elders mentally and physically engaged in music and movement
  • Developing new relationships, whether it be among the parents, the children, or with their “grandfriends”
  • Elders enjoying their visitors, especially the little ones! I particularly loved the toddlers passing out noise makers to their “grandfriends!”
  • The sound of beautiful music

If you’re interested in adding Music Together Generations to your home, here is an interesting tip: Atrium Senior Living at Princeton schedules morning exercise before the class where residents warm up their muscles and open their diaphragms just before the children arrive.

So what’s next for Atrium Senior Living of Princeton? They are already brainstorming ways to expand their work with Music Together to incorporate staff and family members who have a passion for music.

Be sure to check out Music Together’s new “Generations” video that was filmed at Atrium Senior Living of Princeton.

Atrium Senior Living of Princeton first partnered with Music Together in January of 2016, and will be starting their summer session mid-July.  Classes take place on Thursday mornings.

This article was written by staff member, Allison Duda.


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