Feeling better as you age could be as simple as singing in a choir. A 2001 study set out to measure the impact of community-based cultural programs, such as community choir, on the well-being of older adults. The results were nothing less than striking.
Conducted by the late Gene Cohen, the Center on Aging Health and Humanities, George Washington University, and Jeanne Kelly, director of the Levine School of Music, the study concluded that those who participated in such groups had fewer falls, less depression, felt less lonely than non-participants and were generally more active overall than those who did not participate.
“It’s really good for you,” summarized Sandy Siegel Miller, president and co-founder of Encore Illinois – a network of community choruses designed specifically for older adults throughout Chicago and its suburbs. Miller and her husband, Jonathan, started six Chicago-area chorales in early 2016, one of which rehearses and performs at The Community House in Hinsdale.
Rehearsals for all six Encore Chorales are held during the day, eliminating the need for uneasy senior drivers to travel after dark. There are no auditions, and no musical background is needed.
“Some of our members have sung their entire lives. Others tell us they haven’t sung since 7th grade,” Miller said. The focus isn’t on the performance, she said, but on each singer’s experience.
The largely secular repertoire of the chorales
Hinsdale rehearsals are held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. every Thursday morning beginning Sept. 15. New members are welcome to attend a rehearsal for free before deciding whether to register, and those who can’t attend the first rehearsal will be welcomed through the end of September. Rehearsals will culminate Dec. 27 with a free evening concert.
Miller said adults 55 and older are welcome. Last year’s choruses included members in their late 90s, proving that you’re never too old to participate, even if you’ve never been part of a choir before.