Harmony Bridge Program connecting students to seniors, with music
Music has a way of bringing people together – a program called ‘Harmony Bridges’ is enabling young students to sharing music in their communities.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The ensemble is made up of students from 5 different middle schools in the Rapid City Area. They get together about every 2-3 months to practice and perform throughout the community.
3 years ago, The Dallas Brass Musical Quintet did an outreach program locally for students and the director, Michael Levine, told organizers about the program called Harmony Bridge – which is designed to connect school band students with people in senior communities around the country. Some local music advocates loved the idea and brought it to the area.
The primary goal of Harmony Bridge is for band students to go into their communities to share music – a simple idea with huge benefits.
Dr. Haley Armstrong, the Director of Bands SDSM&T & Director of Music for Harmony Bridge, says she enjoys witnessing the growth of the students.
“From the moment they meet they are so nervous; it’s not just the musical side, but they don’t know each other because they are from different schools, and then they start to play together and they realize there is this common language, And then they are really nervous again to talk to some of our senior citizens and then as soon as they have their first conversation, they realize these people have fascinating lives, so I love watching this program because they go from nervous to confident two times every weekend so it’s kind of neat.”
Harmony Bridge focuses on three main areas of development: Community Outreach, Personal Growth and Musical Development. Students play music from special books, music that will appeal to the aging generation. They not only perform but take time to interact and visit with the residents, learning to appreciate and respect the senior population.
Don Stover, with the Rushmore Noon Optimist Club, says, “Well to me, what it really does is it gives the seniors an opportunity to connect again with the youth to think about themselves as youth and when they were in band and performed and it just brings back memories that they have been holding for many, many years. Most of them can’t get out of these homes to go to see any of the arts programs.”
Jamie Kassis, West Middle School student, says she enjoys performing and visiting with the older generation, “I like talking with them because it’s nice to hear how they grew up and if they played any instruments when they were young and like what they did for a living.”
Organizers say they would like to grow the program so that each school has their own Harmony Bridge Program. For more information on Harmony Bridge email Don Stover at email@example.com.