Student musicians and senior citizens connect through music at Senior Cafe


Pei Chao Zhuo

Virtuoso– Senior Pranav Tavildar plays Czardas on the viola. Student musicians performed for local senior citizens at the Senior Cafe on Friday, October 19.

Pei Chao Zhuo

Student musicians performed for local senior citizens at the annual Senior Citizen Music Cafe on October 19th in the school cafeteria. During the after-school event, student volunteers also served food donated by parents to the elderly attendees and conducted a sing-along.

The music department, the Farmington Senior Center, the department of social services, the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and the Friends of Music, a nonprofit that supports music education throughout the school district, worked in conjunction to organize the community gathering.  

Students selected and arranged the music they played at the event. Songs spanned multiple genres and included selections such as the Beatles’ Let It Be, the Aretha Franklin single A Natural Woman, and the first movement of German composer Georg Philipp Telemann’s Concerto for Two Violas.

“My main interest is in musical theatre, so I looked through my repertoire to see what songs might fit the time period that the seniors might be interested in, and chose that way,” senior Camille Hoheb, who performed Goodnight My Someone from the Broadway musical The Music Man, said.

Student servers recorded and delivered the senior citizens’ orders for sandwiches, chips, and drinks between performances. During the sing-along, students and attendees sang the Scottish folk song My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean and John Denver’s 1971 single Take Me Home, Country Roads.

Music department leader Leslie Imse and her students started the event in 2008 during the Great Recession out of concern for local seniors.

“At the time President Obama was asking everyone to work together for the betterment of their communities during such a difficult time. I remember he was especially worried about families who did not have enough to eat and the elderly who are on a fixed income,” Imse said.

During the event, the student musicians received plaudits from the elderly attendees, some of whom come to the Senior Cafe every year. Senior Brian Liao noted that he received many compliments from the audience after performing Bob Dylan’s 1962 single Blowin’ in the Wind.

“There’s just so much talent, you know, and, it’s just nice to be able to come and listen to it and see it,” Rita Bartlett, one of the senior attendees, said.

Student musicians recognize the value of performing to the audience of seniors.

“I learned that there’s a lot of different types of music that you can bring to people, and they will still enjoy it in the same way,” junior Darren kwee, who was part of a musical ensemble that performed a piece by Mozart, said.

The music department will host another Senior Cafe in the spring.