The word is out to find retired musicians over 60 years old to play at an open jam session. The “Music Memory Café,” a project of the Genevieve N. Johnson (GNJ) Senior Daycare Center located on Blagden Avenue in northwest D.C., will host the jam session. The primary objective of the music session is to create an environment where older people can rediscover the healing power of music through their own talent for playing an instrument or singing. Two free jam sessions will be held on June 5 and June 12 from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. at GNJ.
“We want to bring out what our seniors have inside,” said Thelma Burless, executive director of GNJ. “The Café is one of many activities that can enhance the quality of life and function in someone experiencing early to moderate memory loss.”
Master Music Educator Brings Knowledge
D.C. music legend Davey Yarborough is on board as musical director for GNJ’s Music Memory Café. He will encourage the musicians who come to the jam sessions to ensure everyone has a good time getting into the groove.
Yarborough brings his experience as a retired music educator from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where he taught for 40 years. He is also co-founder with his wife, Esther Williams Yarborough, of the Washington Jazz Arts Institute, a youth jazz education performance program that is 25 years old. From his work in music, Yarborough can see a benefit from the Music Memory Café.
“Maybe there is some way in medicine to work the seniors who are early onset to shorten the period where they get total memory loss or delay the full onset of dementia,” said Yarborough.
Working with Burless and Yarborough to plan the jam session are David James Saunders with Zion Community Enterprises and Darryl E. Harris, vice president of Business Development at the Applied Integrated Marketing & Design Group. Together this group will track and evaluate the outcomes for older people who may benefit from the therapeutic value of music through GNJ’s Music Memory Café.
Different Approach to Music Memory
Most music memory cafés are designed to only listen to music. GNJ takes a different approach by setting up a place where musicians can perform with each other.
Burless and Yarborough recently talked about the Music Memory Café on an edition of “Informer LIVE” presented by the Washington Informer.
“They come here, their memories open up, and they reminisce,” Burless said. “We’re going to take this to another level which will still be a grand gesture in memory loss.”
The DC Commission on Arts and Humanities has awarded a grant to GNJ for their Music Memory Café. The desired result is for retired musicians to have a good time while benefiting from a stimulating experience from music. Retired musicians who desire to participate in the jazz jam must be residents of the District of Columbia. They can bring their instruments to the GNJ jam sessions and play with a house band on June 5 and 12. Advance registration is required to participate in the Genevieve N. Johnson Senior Daycare Center Music Memory Café jam session. For more information and to register, contact Angela Ballard at 202-723-8537 or visit the website at www.gnjseniordaycare.com.