New Horizons International Music Association: Staying Cognitively and Socially Active

By Grace DeRose-Wilson, Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan

According to the National Institute on Aging, research has shown that maintaining regular social interaction is important for health and well-being, particularly among older adults. As people age, it can be challenging to find engaging experiences that promote strong social bonds. Learning a new skill, like how to play a musical instrument, is a great way to form social connections as well as stay physically and cognitively active. 

Adults who have not played an instrument before, or have not played in a long time, can have trouble figuring out how to get started. How do you decide what instrument to play? Where do you find a quality instrument? Where do you find learning resources or a community to play and learn with? For youth, there are many resources and beginner-friendly opportunities, but for adults, those opportunities are significantly harder to find.

The New Horizons International Music Association (NHIMA) is a non-profit organization that helps create “entry points to music making for adults” through their New Horizons Music programs. These programs are geared towards adults with no previous musical experience and adults who played in school but have not played in a very long time. NHIMA’s philosophy states that “every person has musical potential that can be developed to a level that will be personally rewarding.” The NHIMA also clarifies a few ways that participating in music benefits adults, and how a New Horizons band or orchestra differs from a traditional community band or orchestra:

  • Participating in a music group provides a challenging intellectual activity that combines group instruction and socialization.
  • Fills the need to be a contributing member of a group.
  • Creates goals and engaging events that give meaning and purpose to life.
  • Adults are not required to have previous music experience or to audition to participate.
  • New Horizons groups spend more time performing for retirement and nursing homes, where additional events are greatly needed.

Are you looking for a new hobby, to learn a new skill, or more ways to engage socially, physically, and mentally? Would you like to get involved with a supportive community, where you can learn, teach, experiment, and work collaboratively to enjoy and create music? If this sounds like something you would enjoy, check out NHIMA for more information on joining or finding a group in your area.

Grace DeRose-Wilson is a Screening Integration Coordinator for MiCAFE at Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since November 2018. As a Screening Integration Coordinator, Grace helps Michigan seniors navigate the benefits application process, and helps raise awareness of benefits through community outreach events.