Bridging the Generation Gap Through Music

The “generation gap”–yes it exists.  Younger people are constantly screaming “You just don’t understand!” at older people.  Older people are constantly saying “When I was your age…” And the rift between the age groups grows ever deeper and wider.  If only, for just a moment each person would take a moment to acknowledge the things they have in common with those older and younger than themselves, perhaps the experience 140 people shared on Sunday, April 25, 2010 would happen more often.

It started as a germ of an idea–the Academy of Lifelong Learning Concert Band was looking for a variety of ways to celebrate their 30th anniversary.  A meeting was put together and it was decided that a shared concert with the UD Symphonic Band would fit the bill.  Each band would play a couple of selections and then the groups would combine and would play two other selections as one ensemble.  It all seemed simple enough, and frankly it really was easy to coordinate and execute.  But how would the members of each group react/respond to each other?  The average age of the ALL Band was 72 and the Symphonic Band was 20.

Sunday arrived and slowly people trickled into the performance hall for our only rehearsal.  The room was thick with apprehension and quiet nervousness.  The first order of business before a single note could be played was to get them sitting together as one ensemble.  The Symphonic Band took their usual seats but left one or two open seats between each other.  The ALL Band filled in the empty seats.  The result: a totally mixed group with a common thread in each section–their instrument.  Suddenly the feeling in the room started to change.  There was a soft chatter at first as introductions were made, and within minutes the soft chatter turned into a full blown conversations.  Smiles and laughter also started to float across the hall.  And when the first note of “America, the Beautiful” was played it was clear that not only would the concert be a success but the day would be a life-changing one for both groups.

While the original intent was to provide a unique performance opportunity for the 30th anniversary celebration of the ALL Band, the outcome went far beyond that.  There were smiles, laughter, and stories shared.  Stories that started out as “When I was in college in 1940…” and concluded with “We still do the same thing but now….”  The hope from both groups at the end of the day was the same–that they would do this again in the near future.  Two groups who weren’t so sure how this would work realized they had more in common then ever imagined.

Music.  It brings people together for all sorts of reasons.  On April 25, 2010 it brought two ensembles together that through the vehicle of music, bridged a gap of 50 years.  It reinforces my own belief, one that Mitch Albom stated so eloquently in his book “Five People You Meet In Heaven”–  The secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.