Suzuki Seniors Program: Musical Beginnings at Otterbein Granville

Posted on: June 12, 2023

By Otterbein Granville resident Kathie H.

Kathie H. Resident Blogger

Children seem naturally attracted to music. The tonal changes and rhythms have soothed and energized babies and young children since the beginning of time. While we elders may suppress our inner child, that affinity to song and instrument is always ready to be awakened. 

Understanding the Suzuki Music Method

Remember when you first learned the folk song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?” It’s been around since 1761 in one form or another. Even Mozart wrote variations on it. 

The tune is perfect for learning to play any instrument as it uses notes in an orderly descent down the musical scale that establishes finger placement in a logical way. It is a staple in the repertoire of Suzuki students. 

Denison University Suzuki Program Logo

The late Shinichi Suzuki, a Japanese violinist, developed his unique approach to learning music, and it was introduced to the United States in the 1960s. 

Because ear training is the basis for learning, rather than note reading, children can start at a very early age. Suzuki-trained string players are often recognized by the rich tone they produce. 

Related: Otterbein Granville Presents Sunday Chamber Music Series >>

Launching the Suzuki Seniors Music Program at Otterbein Granville

Always ready to learn something new, residents at Otterbein Granville are thrilled to have our own first class of Suzuki Seniors. After an introduction to the program, several would-be players are tuning up their cellos and violins, readying their breath and fingers for flute and piano instruction.

The program is the brainchild of Granville Marketing Director Derik Kroeze and the Entertainment Committee with the faculty of the Suzuki program at Denison University. 

Four instructors will meet in small class groups or individually with Otterbein Granville residents as they begin their first term in mid-April. This session will extend to August when it is hoped the current students will continue and additional residents will want to join. 

There is currently only one other Suzuki music program for older adults in the United States, and it is in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Related: There’s Music in the Air at Otterbein Granville! >>

Introductory Meeting 1Introductory Meeting 2

Reaping the Benefits of the Suzuki Music Program for Older Adults

In 1988, Kay Collier Slone wrote a book called, “They’re Rarely Too Young…and Never Too Old ‘To Twinkle:’ Teaching Insights Into the World of Beginning Suzuki Violin.”

In 2009, Jentry Barrett, an administrative assistant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Education and Human Science, wondered if she could start a Suzuki violin program with older adults and put Slone’s theory to the test! 

She did, and it was a huge success. Over two years, 50 seniors completed the course, and many continued to play years beyond their initial experience. 

While seniors can experience physical challenges, like arthritis and having difficulty seeing the violin with bifocals, Barrett reported that the movement and hand exercises required for violin playing eased the pain of arthritis. 

Their hand strength and flexibility increased. The bifocal problem was solved by using their reading glasses and adjusting chin rests to the center of the violin. Where there is a will, there is a way!

Related: Immerse Yourself in Music at Otterbein Granville >>

Inspiring Artistry and Creativity in a Unique Community 

Otterbein Granville

Otterbein Granville is a unique community that sometimes feels to me like an artists’ colony on a nature preserve. The grounds inspire the residents in any season. 

Well-designed paths, pleasant and carefully-chosen landscape plants, and cataloged trees in the arboretum stimulate creative juices. Casual conversations with residents quickly turn to what brings joy to living, and it is often an artistic gift, sometimes only recently discovered when retirement opens up time for something new. 

Related: Denison Artist-In-Residence Leads Plein Air Painting at Otterbein Granville >>

This community has writers of all genres, sketchers, painters, potters, quilters, doll-makers, knitters, musicians, singers, chefs, landscape designers, photographers, and so on. 

Curiosity and willingness to try something new are important components of healthy and vibrant aging. Whatever you find that brings a smile and invigorates you, keep it up. If you are ready to try something new, think Suzuki. And always remember to twinkle!

Path and Tree Sign

Interested in Discovering Life at Otterbein Granville?

Our village-style life plan community offers private senior living residences, including apartments, cottages, and villas. We pride ourselves on being a resident-driven community where residents create and facilitate their own activity programming and special events. 

Our 30+ resident-run committees promote an inclusive culture where differences are celebrated, and individual interests and personalities are valued. Click the button below to learn more.

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