While thousands of songwriters flock to Nashville each year hoping to write a chart-topping smash, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum teaches students of all ages the craft of songwriting, right from the comfort of their own hometowns.
“Music is powerful.”
“It can physically move us, stir our emotions, change our mood, and even help us concentrate,” says Lisa Purcell, Vice President of Development at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
From Jackson to Johnson City and beyond, the Museum makes distance education programs available through its BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation Learning Lab, located inside the Taylor Swift Education Center.
The center also offers hands-on experiences connected to the museum’s content with three classrooms, a videoconference lab & an interactive gallery.
The Museum has seen the benefits of these programs reach beyond schoolwork, improving participants’ mental health and well-being through self-expression.
Now Museum educators are adapting these programs to reach a new audience: senior citizens.
Making the connection
Through videoconference technology, senior centers and church halls are being transformed into fun and free-spirited classrooms.
The program offers social and educational opportunities while eliminating mobility issues and travel expenses.
Seniors can learn the basics of lyric composition in Songwriting 101, where they’re paired with a professional songwriter for a co-writing session.
The course introduces the Museum’s award-winning Words & Music curriculum, developed for youth audiences and successfully adapted for seniors.
During the hour-long course, the group develops an original song lyric that tells a story about its unique experiences.
The session concludes with the performance of the group’s song by the professional songwriter, which is recorded.
“Hearing the lyric set to music and revisiting the experience by listening to the recording can be strong sources of pride,” Purcell says.
“The neat thing is the well of experiences they draw from. That’s the joy of life and of art.”
“You see it all in songwriting. The writing process can be mentally, emotionally and socially stimulating,” she adds.
“For seniors, any perceived technology barrier melts away instantly because music, and the collaboration required to craft a good song, unites people in a meaningful way.”
In 2014, guests of all ages experienced over 160,000 interactions with educational products developed in the Taylor Swift Education Center — from school tours, of which 90 percent of students are Tennesseans, to public programs and interactive activities that serve broader audiences.
“Beyond the new knowledge and skills that participants gain, and the new song they create together, we see definite positive mental and physical health benefits as a result of our songwriting programs,” Purcell says.
Read more about inspiring seniors here.
Photos courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Photo of Taylor Swift by Royce DeGrie.