music promotes well-being and bridges intergenerational gaps
A grant project implemented by ISU faculty demonstrates the positive influence of music on bridging intergenerational gaps and promoting well-being. According to research conducted in line with the project by Dr. Whitney Nesser, Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Scott Buchanan, Director of Choral Activities at the School of Music at Indiana State University, providing music in an intergenerational campus-community setting is beneficial not only for students but also for those who are residents in a senior living facility.
The project, The Gift of Music: An Intergenerational Campus-Community Partnership, is a collaboration between ISU’s College of Health and Human Services, the School of Music, and Westminster Village—a retirement community in Terre Haute, Indiana. The semester-long project provided context for music majors at the School of Music to better connect with their older generation audiences and an opportunity for the community to relate with the student performers. The project aimed to enhance the students’ “First Friday” performances (an activity implemented by the School of Music to expose students to live audiences) through additional learning and reflection.
The project, funded by a $2,400 grant award from the Indiana Campus Compact and a $600 cash match from the ISU Center for Community Engagement, was implemented in spring 2022 and provided a keyboard as a sustainability piece that will remain at the retirement community for future performances.
In discussing the importance of the partnership between ISU and the retirement community, the Director of Community Life for Westminster Village, Lauren Kelsheimer, noted that “the collaboration between ISU and Westminster Village positively impacted both seniors and students by creating meaningful and educational experiences for all.”
For most student performers, the success of their performances centered on how the audience could relate to and enjoy the performances as much as they enjoyed performing them. Students have been able to connect and get to know the residents. They also received positive feedback from them.
According to Dr. Whitney Nesser, an Associate Professor of Applied Health Sciences at Indiana State University and a community musician, there is a need for society to build a better community that understands each other because we are interdependent. Dr. Nesser, who is the lead project investigator, explains that music is the thread that binds society in so many ways including going beyond people, cultures, and many aspects of life, and across the lifespan. She explains that there is a need to “find a bridge between who we are all going to be someday and who we had been.” Dr. Nesser adds that the project provides the platform for this binding as both student performers and the community appreciate the role each play in their success and growth. This is more important as there becomes more need for bringing communities together in communal and supportive activities.
Dr. Nesser expresses her love for music and says her experience with music and playing in a summer band inspired her to want to give back to society the same way, hence the merging of her loves for music, her public health background, and giving back to society, especially the elderly.