Impressive Music Programs at Paul’s Run Engage Seniors

May 16, 2024

Music significantly enriches the daily lives of seniors residing in all levels of care at Paul’s Run, located in Northeast Philadelphia, PA. Unlike most retirement communities that provide music entertainment weekly or monthly, Paul’s Run has fully capitalized on the power of music to transform individual lives and communities. It’s not just about the music; it’s about the sense of community it fosters, where every resident’s voice is heard and valued.

Committed to Excellence

Paul’s Run is committed to excellence and follows best practices in senior care by employing two board-certified music therapists, both holding master’s degrees in the profession with a combined 21 years of experience. A quick glance at the monthly calendar reveals a full spectrum of musical offerings carefully curated by the music therapists, their interns, and other members of the Community Life team. In short, they provide an array of exciting programs that appeal to residents whether the residents are performing as musicians, interested participants, or enthusiastic audience members.

Molly Bybee, music therapist and current Director of Community Life at Paul’s Run, established many music for wellness programs, most notably “Music and Memories,” which creates a safe space for residents to gather and discuss life’s ups and downs. This unique program allows residents to explore their thoughts and feelings through lyric analysis and creative group songwriting, fostering a deep sense of nostalgia and emotional connection. She also leads a monthly “Broadway-themed” sing-along and trivia challenge and directs weekly choir rehearsals open to everyone in the community. Members who regularly attend choir rehearsals choose a repertoire of songs and work toward a performance held three times a year.

When Molly assumed the role of Director of Community Life, she brought another music therapist on board, Ryann Lynch, to maintain and expand the music for wellness programs. Ryann directs two community bell choirs that rehearse weekly. The bells are easy to play and pleasing to the ears. Fun fact: thanks to a more inclusive method developed by Ryann and Molly, no one is required to read sheet music during bell choir. Like the vocal choir, the bell choir works toward three performances yearly, often performing to a packed house. Ryann also coordinates a creative music ensemble where participants are welcome to explore music improvisation. The residents primarily run the ensemble, with Ryann providing direction occasionally. She provides extra support by helping one of the residents, a drummer, transport his drum kit from his apartment to the program.

Dedication to Wellness Extends Beyond the Weekdays

Our dedication to wellness extends beyond the weekdays. In addition to our weekly bell choir and creative music ensemble, we offer monthly drum circles led by professional percussionist Joe Tayoun. These drum circles, which have been proven to have numerous social and physical health benefits, are a testament to our belief in the power of music to enhance overall well-being. Just twenty minutes of engagement can reduce feelings of loneliness, increase a sense of belonging, and improve coordination, mobility, and cardiovascular health.

Three images: man sitting with percussion kit; residents and music therapist playing instruments; man leads choir
Joe Tayoun, Creative Music Ensemble, and Dylan Conducting Bell Choir

It takes more than just Ryann and Molly to keep this robust array of musical programming running smoothly. Ryann is the primary supervisor for graduate and undergraduate music therapy students from Drexel and Temple Universities. To complete their degrees and be eligible for the National Music Therapy Board certification exam, students must complete 1200 hours of internship. She said, “The [internship] program at Paul’s Run benefits all parties. Having music therapy interns from Drexel and Temple helps us to give more individualized attention to residents’ preferences and needs. At the same time, the intern learns a lot about how this senior community operates, how their skills can fit into it, and they also learn from the interactions and relationships that develop with seniors.” The students’ participation broadens the scope of musical experiences offered to residents and nurtures intergenerational friendships. The interns are a valuable asset, especially when residents express the idea of combining technology and music to create an exciting and interactive program.

A Success Story

One of our recent success stories is Dylan McDonnell, an intern from Temple University. Over the past eight months, he has worked closely with individuals and groups at Paul’s Run, culminating in a dynamic concert. This concert was a collaborative effort, combining Dylan’s technological skills with a resident’s musical performance abilities. The resident’s lifelong love of drumming was beautifully showcased, demonstrating the transformative power of our music programs.

Dylan created a PowerPoint presentation that enabled the audience to see a slide show depicting the history of American music from the 1940s through the 2000s through performers’ images and recorded music. The resident drummer’s skills were impressively showcased as the stylistic accompaniment.

That day, the audience didn’t just enjoy musical highlights ranging from performances by The Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley, followed by The BEATLES, The Beach Boys, Natalie Cole, and others. They were entertained and excited. Some residents couldn’t resist the music and got up to dance, while others clapped, sang, or played along with their own percussion instruments, adding to the fun and joy of the event.

Excellent musical talent and opportunities for wellness through music engagement and appreciation are available at Paul’s Run!

For more information about the lifestyle at Paul’s Run, Click Here.