"The Rhythms of Life:" Integrating Percussion with Movement

Iona Senior Services welcomed AFTA teaching artists-in-training Chris Brown and Manny Arciniega to lead a program called, "The Rhythms of Life," which features musical technology and themes new to AFTA programming.

Chris and Manny began the program by playing for Iona's older adults as they walked into the room to join; Chris strummed a melody on the bass while Manny accompanied on percussion. To formally begin the program, Chris and Manny played Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why." The room swayed side to side and seniors clapped their hands to the beat of Chris' slow-jazz bass performance.

The program focused on rhythm and layering 'loops' to create textured music. To illustrate this, Manny assigned participants different movements and instruments to play at certain parts of a song. First, the participants practiced making a rhythm using motions with their hands and arms, such as moving them up and side, patting their stomachs, and even flapping like a bird, as suggested by a participant.

Later, Manny passed percussion instruments, including the maracas and the tambourine, throughout the room to be played in harmony with one another. The participants were split into sections, where one group would play their instrument first while another group would play right after them. Manny's instruction led to the room playing in a loop, making a continuous rhythm that repeated itself. Chris demonstrated a similar 'loop' by recording a bass line for the audience and playing over the recording to add new elements to it. The final product resulted in a beautifully synchronized percussive accompaniment to Chris' bass line to Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely."

Chris and Manny concluded their day at Iona Senior Services by playing "Happy Birthday" to celebrate a participant's special day. The room sang along together, applauding Chris and Manny's musical performance and program as it came to an end.

We're excited to offer this stimulating new music program to our partners this fall.


A Guest from the East

AFTA Teaching Artist (TA) Anthony Hyatt invited guests from India to experience two AFTA workshops. One of the guests, Neelima Pandit, is a traditional Kathak dancer.

In an interactive workshop with Quicksilver at Iona Senior Services, Neelima demonstrated Bharatnatyam dance.  The Quicksilver dancers borrowed from her movements and gestures in their own improvised dance. Later that week Neelima danced for participants at the Asian and Pacific Islander Senior Center in Washington, D.C.  She danced the story of Ganesh and performed the kuma, a dance in circles.

The Silver Singers, a dance and music performance group founded by Hyatt at the center, embraced Neelima and were eager to join her in dance.  With no shared language, the dancers passed movement back and forth in a beautiful conversation accompanied by Anthony’s live music.  Afterward Neelima shared that she was impressed by the AFTA teaching artists she observed, noting that few artists are so aware of and responsive to their audience members.

Watch Neelima share joyful movement with Chinese seniors at the center.

Neelima's guru in India, Mrs. Sharadini Gole, is still performing and teaching dance at 85 years old.


2017 Fall Events

Board members and volunteers with Arts for the Aging hosted artful parties and salons in their homes with new and longtime friends of AFTA, and special guests too, this past fall. We shared the spirit of our mission through conversation, video, and short demos in music-making, storytelling, and visual art and movement -- sparking the joy and imagination that uplifts our souls and our health, and raising support to help make Arts for the Aging

Donor giving for these events was generously matched by Don and Nancy Bliss, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and Don Wright and Lezley McIlveen.

Dinner Salon and Art Talk, featuring His Excellency Martin Dahinden, Ambassador of Switzerland, Phillips Collection Director and CEO Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, AFTA teaching artists Nancy Havlik and Donna McKee, and hosted by AFTA trustee Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Ret.) and Mrs. Nancy Bliss. Photos by Stephanie Williams Images here.

Ambassador Martin Dahinden and Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Ret.)

AFTA Hours Storytelling Salon, with teaching artists Annetta Dexter Sawyer, Anthony Hyatt, Candace Wolf and artist and DJ Adrian Loving. Hosted at the Capitol Hill home of Anabeth Guthrie and Tim Chapin. Special thanks to the Host Committee: AFTA trustee Kevin Bryan, Laura and Mark DeVito, Peter Ford, Anabeth Guthrie, Carolyn Laurenzano, Rosie MacInnes, Andre Javier-Barry. Photos by Roman Boroday here.

Host committee members Andre Javier-Barry and Laura DeVito

Blues, Bourbon and Barbeque, hosted at the lake-house home of AFTA Trustee Don Wright and Lezley McIlveen, with teaching artists Wall Matthews and Miles Spicer. Photos here.

Guests get ready for some percussive music-making with Teaching Artist Wall Matthews

Annual Report in Brief

Arts for the Aging brings therapeutic, multidisciplinary, groups arts workshops to vulnerable older adults especially, in primarily underserved community and residential care settings in Greater Washington. We recently published this briefing with highlights of our annual program.