Music: Breaking Down Barriers and Uniting People of All Ages

It's #IntergenerationalWeek - an online campaign connecting those passionate about intergenerational activity and inspiration. In its second year, the campaign is all about celebrating those ideas, moments, and opportunities local to us where different age groups can come together to work or play together and where intergenerational friendships can be made. This awareness week also gives the opportunity to plan for the future and develop new ideas and themes including the development of both indoor and outdoor spaces and places that will allow these amazing interactions to happen.

We are living in extraordinarily challenging times, where it is more important than ever to value interactions between the different generations to build respect and understanding. The creation of an inclusive outdoor music park, playground, or community music space will engage people of all ages, cultures, and abilities. Music-making brings people together in a way that few other activities can - fostering both individual growth and community development. Without a doubt, music is best experienced with other people, and when you want people to bond, music is a natural resource for making that happen.

The benefits of community engagement with music are multifaceted and wide-ranging. For children, playing outdoor musical instruments with their elders can speed up the development of social skills, emotional processing, communication, self-esteem, and intelligence - due to a combination of the cognitive responses to music-making and the effects of spending time learning from/with people outside of their age group. All of these things - of course - are hugely important in the formative years of childhood and set children up far better to enter into adolescence and adulthood as balanced, happy, socially intelligent, and well-rounded people. Seniors will enjoy the positive, informal interactions that help avoid social isolation while also offering them cognitive and physical stimulation that engages the body, mind, and spirit. Having a diminishing peer group can make people feel more isolated and so making new friends, from all age groups and backgrounds, will help make them feel connected to the wider world. They'll relish the opportunity to have fun together, learn something new, and support one another – all in the fresh air!

Opportunities for generations to connect will become even more important as we emerge from the current pandemic, so #Intergenerational week aims to inspire people and organizations to explore some of the compelling reasons why it is important to actively encourage intergenerational relationships - for old and young alike - and start to think about how they can create ways that will enable these magical interactions to occur. An outdoor music park or garden in a community space or senior living/retirement facility that invites visitors, friends, families, carers, local schools, kindergartens, or the wider community to come and get involved, perform and make music together will breakdown barriers and create some very special bonds as well as some fantastic music!

For further reading, our whitepaper 'Play, Percussion and 'Post-Age' Pedagogy: The Positive Effects of Intergenerational Music-Making' looks into the vital role that music-making can play in facilitating authentic cross-generational connections.

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