Joyce Dodds hits the right notes during Adult Seniors Band practice at the Trail Alliance Church. The program welcomes anyone who wants to take part. Contact Terry Moon or the TRail Alliance Church for more information.

Seniors band program strikes right note between music and mind

A dozen senior students gather at Trail Alliance Church Wednesday afternoons to learn, play, and laugh.



The key for staying sharp is to learn new things throughout life.

So when a group of senior ladies asked Terry Moon if they could learn to play the clarinet or trumpet, the bass fiddler and head of a youth music program, chimed in, “of course you can, let me see what I can do.”

That was back in April. Now, a dozen students with grey-tinged hair, gather in the Trail Alliance Church Wednesday afternoon, and learn how to read music and how to play a brass or woodwind.

“We are starting out literally at the beginning,” said Moon, the church’s program administrator for the Adult Seniors Band as well as the Trail and District After School Band.

“Knowing nothing about music, we started them right from the basics, with what music is, what is a note, and how to count.”

Moon says the program has been a unique learning experience that presented him a few unforeseen challenges.

“What we discovered in trying to help older adults, is their physical needs are playing a huge role when choosing the right instrument,” he explained.

“For example, some can’t hold their arms up in such a way to hold a flute. Or their knuckles have arthritis, or injuries throughout life, have come to play significantly in how to choose an instrument – that’s where we got caught.”

Everyone has a particular instrument in mind, says Moon. But his role is to introduce senior students to the gamut, from clarinet to french horn or trombone, and have them give it a try. If the instrument is too cumbersome to hold or blow into, then it’s on to the next.

“Some people don’t have the physical dexterity or their lips don’t fit certain mouthpieces,” added Moon.

Besides age-related physical changes, the method of teaching senior versus youth also requires certain adaptation.

“A young person’s mind is still tied to learning from school, and on a huge fast track,” said Moon. “As an adult, it takes a bit more time to understand some of the basic principles, and older weaker eyes may not see a note on the page like a younger person would. So it’s getting used to that.”

But more than anything, there’s one aspect about teaching seniors that has everyone smiling.

“Mind exercise and the physical is a really great part and I am enjoying that,” said Moon. “But most certainly, the best part with the seniors bunch is they can laugh at each other. As a kid, you hate to be laughed at – well, this is the reverse,” he chuckled. “These are the different things that made it’s so much fun, and these people are a whole lot of fun.”

When Moon was tasked with assembling a senior band program, the first to-do was finding a music teacher – preferably one with a lot of experience and maybe even a few gray hairs.

That’s when Clark White agreed to step in, lending hand and ear. White’s been teaching music since 1961, is a retired J.L. Crowe Secondary music teacher, and a well known musician in several local bands.

He says the most meaningful lesson the seniors are learning is that every aspect of being human is involved in the production of music.

“More than anything they are finding out music requires participation of the entire being, the breathing, ears, eyes, lips, emotions, the brain and mathematics, White added. “And I’ve had them say they didn’t realize they would have to push so hard to become a good (for example) clarinet player.”

That’s where Moon jumps back into the picture, by encouraging the seniors to keep going.

“Clark has a mantra, he will not allow the c-word, which is can’t,” Moon said. “And my mantra is, ‘wait until the end of the year,’ and look at how far you’ve come.”

Those interested in becoming part of the Adult Seniors Band is encouraged to contact Moon at 231.7177 or the Trail Alliance church at 368.9516.

Just Posted

Columbia Basin Trust offering business accelerator program

Trust seeking motivated companies for customized support and mentorship program

Trail military exercises provide crucial training

Exercise Sapper Crucible: ‘The nuts and bolts of what a soldier is’

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

Thrums, Riondel, and Slocan, revisited

Place Names: Scottish author delighted by Thrums name origin

Last stand for Silver City summer

Fall officially arrives in Trail at 6:54 p.m. on Saturday

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Most Read