For learners, a new movement

As Jeffery Simpson sits in the back row of his music class, he pays close attention to the instructor and the sheet music in front of him, working toward his end-of-semester goal.

“I want to learn to play well enough to play in church,” said Simpson, 85.

Until enrolling in the New Horizons Music program, Simpson had been teaching himself to play saxophone from a training book.

Designed to give those over 50 a chance to learn a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument, NHM believes it is never too late to learn music.

David Sogin, an associate professor of music education at UK, and Christine Carucci, a music education graduate student, started the program in Lexington with the support of Arleen Johnson and Diana Lockridge, administrators at UK’s Council on Aging.

NHM began at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, where Carucci received her undergraduate degree. The program is now international, with more than 100 groups teaching music to people over 50. Last fall was the first time the program took place in Kentucky.

The music program is the first time many of the students have had the chance to learn music. But even for those who have previous experience, picking it back up after years without playing can be difficult.

“I was amazed that I had to relearn all of the fingerings of the notes,” said clarinet player Rose Marie Hackett, 58. “I remembered none of those from 40 years ago.”

Hackett was a part of the fall session, and said she plans to stick with the program and keep learning. After Saturday’s practice, her instructors complimented her on how fast she picks up new music.

Hackett and about five others returned to the program for a second semester on Saturday, but there were about a dozen new participants returning to music after years of absence.

The program is teaching 18 students this semester. They will perform a concert together on April 19, at the end of the 10-week session.

“The amount that people improve over the course of 10 weeks is really fascinating,” Carucci said.

Carucci said one of the greatest advantages to NHM is working together and having someone to learn with.

“A lot of people have said that a benefit to the program is having fun with a group as opposed to private lessons,” Carucci said.

Student Joy Molino, 70, said she is very excited about the program.

“It’s something I have dreamed of for years,” she said.

Sign-ups for NHM are at the beginning of every UK semester. NHM is still accepting participants, but prefers to have everyone signed up in the next few weeks, Carucci said.

The ensemble, which practices from 10 a.m. until noon, will meet for nine more Saturdays at Mayfair Village. Tuition for NHM is $75 a semester, which goes toward purchasing sheet music and the help of instructors.

Students must pay for their own instrument rental, and Don Wilson Music Co. provides a discount on rentals for NHM participants.

For more information about NHM, contact Christine Carucci at 533-6083 or christine.

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