Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Inspirational Evening

This past Saturday night I went to an amazing amazing rock concert. It wasn't Coldplay. It wasn't....that's the only name of a band I know. Oh well. It was a group called Young@Heart. The members of this group range from 72- 95. This is not some senior citizen singing group that sings songs from their youth. This is a group of the youngest, most energetic and full of life people I have ever seen perform. Their repertoire includes heavy rock, pop, blues, folk, and punk. For two straight hours, whether in wheel chairs, walkers or canes,  they sang over 25 songs. There were no crib sheets, no missed words, just dancin, and singin old/young men and women, who literally travel all over the world singing and dancing, and have appeared on David Letterman, Jay Leno, and even Jon Stewart has reported on them. 

I first became acquainted with their work when the documentary about this group came out in 2008. This is a movie not to be missed. It is called "Young@Heart. (available at libraries and on netflix) I left the movie theater inspired by these chorus members from Northampton, MA. The commitment that have to this chorus, and to each other is without parallel. They are presented with music that is from a different generation, but they are completely open to the messages and the style. Due to the age of the members, some of the people die during the filming of this movie. Through the sadness at the loss of their friends and chorus members, they shore up and go on to show respect for the lives of those passing on. It is a lesson for every generation.

I was so moved by this film that I started showing it to my college students in my Human Development classes over the last 4 years as we studied later adulthood and death and dying in this lifespan course.  I have now seen this movie 10 times. Each time is as powerful as the first. What is so gratifying is watching my 18-22 year old students sit, mesmerized by the music, the people, and the message. This "reality show" actually means and teaches something. At the end of class on Thursday, a group of students excitedly came up after class. It seems they were so "turned on" by this film that they had found their website wanting to learn more about the group. This was completely self-motivated. What they wanted to tell me is they had found out that the group was performing on this past Saturday night, and they were going, did I want to go??? I couldn't have been more excited than if I had been told the Beatles were coming to town. But what was even more exciting was the joy on my student's faces. The fact that they were so inspired by this group of old people was a surprise and more gratifying as a professor than I can say.

The message of these older singers is that nothing can't be overcome and accomplished if you have passion, drive,  support and motivation to be the best you can be. This is a message for all people, especially your teens. Watch this movie with your kids,  and watch their faces light up.

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