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Intergenerational Choir: Let All Voices Sing

Intergenerational Choir: Let All Voices Sing

January 8, 2016

The preschoolers buzzed around “Home 305” in eager anticipation of the seniors who would soon join them in the first meeting of the Manny Cantor Center’s Intergenerational Choir, a joint program between the Educational Alliance Preschool at the Manny Cantor Center and Educational Alliance’s Weinberg Center for Balanced Living.

The preschoolers pushed big folding chairs into a semicircle and then climbed onto the chairs, letting their little legs dangle down.

Carolyn, the teacher in Home 305, asked the children, “Who should sit on the chairs? Who should sit on the carpet?”

After a brief discussion, the children concluded that the seniors would be more comfortable sitting on the chairs. The first lesson in intergenerational sharing was learned and the seniors hadn’t even shown up yet.

But, the children did not have to wait long. Carolyn announced, “Turn around to welcome our friends.”

“Happy New Year!” the kids shouted. One boy ran to hug a senior who was also a senior buddy to his class

Manny Cantor Center’s Intergenerational Choir began with smiles all around. Seven seniors sat on the chairs and the children found a spot in front of a senior. By the end of the session, 15 seniors had joined the choir.

Sheila Logrono, a member of the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living, took her guitar and sat cross-legged on the carpet in front of the group. She passed sheets with lyrics to the seniors.

She said, “You can call me Lola, which means Grandma in Tagalog.” She began the session leading the children and seniors in the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land is Your Land.” She used the song as an opportunity to teach the children about redwood forests. “There are so many beautiful things in America, we are lucky to live here.”

Pretty soon, the seniors and children had added hand motions to the singing. Carolyn encouraged those who didn’t know the words to hum.

Sheila asked the children what songs they knew, and pretty soon all were singing rounds of “Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Row, Row Your Boat,” and the “More We Get Together.”

As the singing went on, the kids became more comfortable, leaning their backs onto the legs of the seniors. The seniors reached down to pat the children’s heads and cheeks.

After the first session, Sheila said, “I love teaching them songs that I grew up with, like Pete Seeger songs. I love kids and I want to be with them when they walk and sing. I want to teach them round songs, nursery rhymes, hymns, American folk songs, and 10 Little Fingers, a song in Tagolog.”

Sheila is a member of the senior center and takes the painting class. She jumped at the opportunity to lead the choir.

If you want to know what joy looks and sounds like, stop by Room 305 on Friday mornings. Better yet, if you’re a senior, come join in the fun.


Story by Amy Greenhouse 

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