Music Activities for the Elderly

the clarinetist image by Pix by Marti from

Music can inspire or lift the spirits of most people with its power to spark any possible emotion. The elderly, in particular, can benefit from the soothing or upbeat aspects of music. Activities coordinators can make a positive difference by introducing direct participation in musical activities or having seniors listen to or watch a musical artist.

Sing-Along, One and All

You can use an overhead projector to list the lyrics while either a musician or band plays or you play music from a recording. Create a lively atmosphere and make sure that you ask participants to give a list of songs that they would most enjoying singing with a group. Some fun classic options may be "High Hopes," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," or something more melancholy like "As Time Goes By," if the seniors want to wax nostalgic. Singing together can be a good bonding experience, letting everyone feel emotion—happy and sad—in a safe and supportive environment.

Karaoke Night

Karaoke is more individualized than a sing-along. Bring in a karaoke machine and provide the lyrics. Create a club atmosphere with slightly dimmed light or candlelight. Get recordings of their favorite songs, if possible. Ask the seniors to dress up and prepare for their stage time. Karaoke gives the elderly a chance to shine for a few moments with their peers.

Anytime Carolers

There are musicians who specialize in performing for charities and the elderly. They tailor their performance to interact with seniors and play songs especially to suit their tastes. These artists don't just perform during the holidays. They can put together special programs based on the audience's age and interests.

What Song Was That Again?

This activity requires a stereo. Play snippets of songs and ask the participants to guess the name of the song, as well as the artist and when the song premiered and was popular. The players can work together to make the activity more fun and collaborative.

Drumming Circle

A drumming circle isn't just for outdoor music festivals for the young. The elderly may enjoy this soothing activity where they gather in a circle and play drums of their choice. You may talk to your local percussion center to see if they may be able to loan out different types of drums at different times. Don't forget to include maracas, egg shakers and tambourines for occasional variety in the drum sessions. Let the elderly participants guide the direction, pace, tempo and rhythm that the drumming takes.