Encore Creativity for Older Adults is the collective name of 11 choral groups in the Washington area. Members don’t have to audition to join and no experience is required.
“Everybody move down. Move down.”
Jeanne Kelly founded and directs the program.
“Our singers, some of them have sung their entire life. Some haven’t sung for 40 years because they’ve been busy with the career, they’ve been busy raising families. And some have never sung.”
Kelly also heads a summer program at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. This summer, more than 60 singers accepted the challenge to learn 5 compositions in just 4 days.
Jeanne Heather has attended the summer institute since it began 5 years ago.
“They teach us here, not only about the music but how to sing and how to sing better. And they don’t really get mad if you miss a note or you come in the wrong place.”
A lot of time is spent rehearsing for the final concert.
“Up, middle, low.”
But there are other activities as well.
Margo Newhouse joined Encore a year ago after rehabilitation from a fall. She says the summer program has been therapeutic.
“Definitely I was very tired each day, at the end of day. And it was a healthy tiredness which, I’m sure has helped me in my activity level.”
Kelly says the 2001 research that launched Encore proved it would be beneficial.
“What we found after the first year was that singers who have the chance to study under a professional artist, had much higher morale, suffered much less depression. They took fewer medications. They had fewer falls.”
Back then, there were 150 singers. Today there are more than 550.
“Three, Two, One. Cheers”
The average age is 73. But some are in their 90s.
Jeanne Kelly says you are never too old to sing.