The Age of Creation: Southern Highlands Jazz Festival
Whether individuals are adjusting their lifelong vocation to the challenges of maturity or painting their histories in watercolor, figuring art into mature age appears to have more than a merely aesthetic purpose. Many individuals take advantage of their age of creativity and replace their canes with pencils, brushes, palettes and, of course, music.
If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die ….
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Twelfth Night, Act 1, Sc 1.
According to the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (3 rd Edition) 2002, in this first line of Shakespeare’s play, the speaker is asking for music because he is frustrated …; he wants an overabundance of love so that he may lose his appetite for it.
Poet William Carlos Williams spent most of his life as a paediatrician as well as a bard. But a stroke in his 60s left him unable to doctor children. Depressed after losing his medical career, Williams took years to regain his literary voice. Winning his first Pulitzer Prize for his last collection of works at the age of 79, he appears to have discovered what many seniors find as they reach maturity and begin to explore new forms of expression an "old age which adds as it takes away," as Williams wrote in The Catholic Bells.
And as the saying goes, researchers are finding that creative expression helps people to age health-fully. In this connection, Gerontologist Gene Cohen of George Washington University in Washington, D.C, points out the connection between creativity and ageing — a link he formally started to explore in 1980, after he went to an exposition that spanned 50 years of folk art. Most of the exhibitors were over the age of 65, and many had reached their artistic peaks after their 80th birthday.
To explore further whether creative activities influenced health and happiness across the life span, Cohen designed a series of community-based art programs that brought professional musicians and artists to work with people 65 to 100 years old. The results to be published in upcoming months show that the 150 seniors who undertook artistic endeavors were less depressed and less lonely than 150 locals who did not participate. What's more, the elder artists fell less often, visited their doctors fewer times, and downed fewer medications than their uninvolved counterparts.
The relation between artistry and ageing goes both ways. Not only can creative pursuits bolster ailing seniors, but for certain patients, cognitive decline can liberate artistic expression. Neurologist Bruce Miller of the University of California, San Francisco, studies people with a rare type of dementia that cripples the brain's language centres. "This degeneration is associated with a jump in visual creativity. Some individuals with this disorder begin to invent, paint and create things totally out of the blue. This striking, yet gradual, change occurs in some people with the so-called fronto-temporal dementia. Although they can't recall the word ‘boat’ when shown a picture of one, they can paint a schooner skimming on a foamy sea. As the dementia worsens, their creative streak grows more impressive. I have come across some of the most exciting artists I have seen while working with these patients. And their accomplishments have shown me that ageing is not a monolithic picture of decline", says Miller.
Epidemiologist John McKinlay of the New England Research Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts, says that more studies like Cohen's are needed to determine whether art programs, such as Memories in the Making, slow down the cognitive and physical decline that accompany ageing. If so, he suggests that these types of artistic therapies could be included in the arsenal that Medicare pays for.
David@SAGE says ...
While it is great to read about the positive impact that already enriching activities can have on the lives of older people, the article on The Art of Creation focuses on ways that seniors use art to “explore their creative side,” but only briefly mentions that creative therapies could be added as another facet of Medicare.
Encouraging self-expression injects vitality. Many recent studies link thoughtfulness, continued physical and cognitive activity, and now creative expression as having life span longevity.
So, if creative therapies like music were included in the Australian Medicare system what kind of response would citizens get?
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The 2005 Southern Highlands Classic Jazz and Ragtime Festival
Jazz is one type of lively music that has strong and complex rhythms. It was first played at the beginning of the 20 th century by black musicians in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jazz musicians often accent or add notes or beats in unusual or unexpected places. They make up tunes as they play. Jazz music has changed and, today, there are many different forms of Jazz.
I spent the last weekend (28-29 May 2005) at the Bowral Memorial Hall where three generations of Australia’s finest musicians played jazz numbers of a hundred years. Some of the three generations of musicians included Steve Waddell’s Creole Bells from Melbourne (Generation X), Michael McQuaid’s Late Hour Boys (Generation Y); and two special groups, comprised by Geoff Power and by Neil Macbeth paid tribute to two of the greatest jazz musicians, Bix Beiderbecke and Bunny Berrigan, respectively. Paul Furness (Baby Boomer Generation) — and a major figure on the Australian jazz scene for over forty years — played a selection of his own compositions.
Carole (Parker) from ACU McAuley at Banyo campus, Brisbane writes …
I am currently a “sessional” lecturer in music having recently resigned (at Stuartholme school) after 12 years as HOD music. I am planning to start my own music studio next semester (predominantly piano teaching) with a focus on the older learner. I would be grateful for any information (if you have any) on research showing the benefits of learning music for the older learner. I don't know if this particular aspect is of any interest to you but if you do have any advice or websites I could visit I'd appreciate it very much or if at a later date I could provide data for you. My home email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As this is the last lecture of the semester I won't be back until mid July. Regards Carole (Parker)
Carole, here are some references that you may find useful:
Brooks D, 1989. Music therapy enhances treatment with adolescents. Music Therapy Perspectives, 6, 37-39.
Bryant D R, 1987. A Cognitive Approach to Therapy through Music. Journal of Music Therapy, 24(1) 27-34.
Courtright P, Johnson S, Baumgartner M, Jordan M, & Webster J, 1990. Dinner music: does it affect the behavior of psychiatric inpatients? Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 28 (3), 37-40.
Pavlicevic M & Trevarthen C 1989. A musical assessment of psychiatric states in adults. Psychopathology, 22 (6), 325-334.
Pfeiffer H, Wundelich S, Bender, W, Elz U, & Horn B, 1987. Music improvisation with schizophrenic patients — a controlled study in the assessment of therapeutic effects. Rehabilitation, 26 (4), 184-192.
The Effect of Music Therapy and Psychoeducation Versus Psychoeducation for Mainstreaming Mental Health Patients into Society, The Florida State University School of Music, http://www.lib.fsu.edu/
Silverman Michael J, 2003. The influence of music on the symptoms of psychosis: A meta-analysis. Journal of Music Therapy, 11 (1), 27-40.
Reinhardt A & Ficker F 1983. Initial experiences with regulative music therapy in psychiatric patients. Psychiatry, Neurology and Medicine Psychology, 35 (10), 604-610.
Utilizing Music as a Coping Skill: Featuring the Music of Freudian Slip features, http://www.freudianslipstore.com/