The New Horizons Band (NHB) is living proof that, when it comes to learning to play a musical instrument, it truly is “never too late.” Most NHB members, usually over the age of 50, started taking music lessons only after passing their half-century birthday. Yet the New Horizons Music concept, the result of a groundbreaking music course at the University of Rochester’s (NY) Eastman School of Music, has become a popular performing ensemble in communities across the U.S., enticing amateur musicians average in age from their early fifties to mid-eighties. This fall, the program will launch in Santa Fe, NM at The Candyman Strings & Things at 851 St. Michael’s Drive.
To kick off the NHB program, on September 24th, an “Information Meeting, Instrument Petting Zoo and Sign-up Event” will be hosted by The Candyman. On this day, seniors and adults will have the opportunity to try out various wind, brass and percussion instruments under the guidance of The Candyman music teachers, learn more about the program, ask questions and register. Attendees will also be treated to lunch and a performance from the Rio Rancho New Horizons Band let by conductor, Ron Lipka, a retired band director. The Rio Rancho New Horizons Band members and organizers will also be on-hand to network and answer questions.
Starting September 29th, The Candyman New Horizons Band will begin conducting formal music lessons for the NHB members. The lessons will be held at The Candyman Strings & Things on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 12:30. Cost for the semester program is $180.00 (not including instrument rental or purchase). Cindy Cook, Co-Owner and Director of Education at The Candyman, will serve as the NHB’s Director, and Pablo Champion, Eastman School of Music graduate and The Candyman’s Education Department Manager, will serve as the band’s Conductor.
Recent studies have determined that adults over 50 are the fastest growing segment of the population. According to Cindy, NHB programs embrace this burgeoning group of Americans, offering an activity that seniors can easily adapt to fit their needs. “The NHB program restores intellectual stimulation and opportunity that members had previously relied upon the workplace to provide,” said Pablo. In fact, some holy unions have even been formed. Charley and Rita Rose, both 80 years old, met while performing with the Rochester ensemble, and married last year.
About New Horizons Music Association
New Horizons Bands have formed across the Country and have confirmed the original convictions of creator Roy Ernst, Eastman music education professor, that music is an ideal activity for seniors. “Older adults have the time and motivation necessary to develop musical skills rapidly. In addition, performing music—especially in large groups—can improve health and quality of life,” said Ernst.
The pilot Eastman program in Rochester began in 1991. Sixty candidates responded to a local newspaper ad—twice the number expected. In the ensuing years, similar bands have popped up across the nation. To date, there are 350 New Horizons music members scattered throughout Milwaukee, WI; Indianapolis, ID; Iowa City, IA; Carefree, AZ; Madison, WI; and Winnetka, in addition to Rochester, NY and now Santa Fe, NM. The program has even captured the hearts of senior musicians across the Pacific, with the formation of a NHB in Australia.
“Each of these chronologically gifted musicians have either met or exceeded their original expectations,” says Ernst. “A person in his or her seventies may not be able to develop the same level of technical skill that would have been possible in his or her late teens. On the other hand, senior adults have a lot of life experience to bring to their interpretation of music.”
Ernst and Eastman were instrumental in spreading the NHB program nationally, while grants from NAMM: International Music Products Association and the National Association of Band Instrument Manufacturers (NABIM) support NHBs nationwide. For more information on The Candyman’s New Horizons Band, contact Cindy at The Candyman Strings & Things at 505-983-5906 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.