CMS brings music to retirement home
Five years ago, after having a stroke and being pushed into joining the MSU Community Music School’s New Horizons Band by his family, Ford Topping never expected to be an alto saxophone player.
“I just love it — I really enjoy the people and performing for everyone,” Topping said after Tuesday afternoon’s performance at the Burcham Hills Retirement Community.
New Horizons Band is an opportunity for adults to play in a band whether or not they have experience with an instrument or not. The group will teach anyone interested how to play an instrument and read music in a fun learning environment. This semester there are 62 band members.
Tuesday’s performance was conducted by Jack Mike, a longtime trumpet player, musical performer and teacher along with Cindy Duda, an MSU music performance doctoral student.
Duda works with the band to utilize her passion for music education and become more involved with the community, she said.
“It was really my love of music and being a performer,” Duda said. “This is an opportunity to give back in music education in some way, and working with this group is the best thing in the entire world — it’s the most rewarding thing I do, honestly, and they are so fun and have so much energy.”
Annabel Larzelere went to watch her daughter-in-law play and said she participates in almost every musical event offered in her retirement community.
“The marches were my favorite,” Larzelere said.
Mike said the band always tries to choose music that appeals to the particular crowd. For Tuesday’s performance the band played songs from the musical “The Music Man” and old tunes from well-known composers.
“We try to play music that’s at least particularly familiar to them and appeals to them,” Mike said. “I think it’s important to see people their own age playing that music and think of it in that way and say, ‘Hey that’s something I can do,’ or ‘Hey there’s people my age up there maybe I can do that too.’”
After the hour-long performance, Mike said he was approached by a man who plans to attend the next rehearsal to start learning how to play music. The band will help anyone find an instrument, as many of the band members originally came to the band with no music experience.
Mike said the band performs wherever they are welcome, and Burcham Hills Retirement Community has held concerts for the past two years.
“Music is very therapeutic, especially live music,” Mike said. “It’s so much more enjoyable than recorded music — everyone can listen to music and especially if they’re in a place like this where they rarely have enough access to live music.”
Larzelere’s daughter-in-law, Mary Anne Larzelere, started playing the French horn in the band five years ago, and although she had been a musician for most of her life, she never had played a wind instrument before.
“As long as we are able to walk and talk and get here I will continue playing,” Larzelere said. “We love to play for anyone who loves to listen and as long as we bring a little joy in people’s lives it makes us more than happy to come out.”