Old Time Rock ‘n Roll

The Rolling Stones have been together for decades proving that rocking out has no age limit. Thanks to a unique music program designed for those aged 60+, a group of Masonic independent living residents had the opportunity to hit the stage showing what they learned during 12 weeks of free music and singing lessons.

“I always say ‘you’re never too old to rock n’ roll’, and learning to play an instrument keeps the aging mind active,” said Mark Maxwell, owner of Maxwell’s House of Music.

Maxwell’s Rock of Ages program offers the opportunity to learn the keyboards, drums or guitar, or take singing lessons. “The goal of the program is to encourage seniors to fulfill their rock star dream and reap the benefits of challenging their brain,” said Mark.

After eight weeks of lessons, participants are grouped together to practice songs from favorites including The Beatles, Ray Charles and John Denver. On June 10, the 14 residents who completed the program played a live concert from Maxwell’s stage in Jeffersonville.

Participant Karen Smith has resided at Miralea Active Lifestyle Community for two years and was the first to raise her hand when Mark asked for participants in the program. Her response was, “I want the drums.”

“We all took the obligatory piano lessons growing up, but otherwise I did not have any experience playing an instrument,” said Karen. Her son played bass guitar through high school. She laughed saying she was glad he didn’t play the drums because his band would have had to practice at her house.

However, something about the drums always interested her. Her son eventually purchased a set and when she would visit her grandkids, she enjoyed picking up the sticks and playing around. Her lessons at Maxwell’s have taught her one thing – playing the drums is hard.

“You’re sitting on a stool that swivels and wobbles, and one hand is going up and the other is banging down all while you are using the foot pedal,” Karen said. To practice at home in a community shared with other close neighbors, she improvised by drumming on her sofa cushions.

She also noted how great it was for Maxwell’s to offer this type of program. “Now, when music comes on, I notice that I’m tapping my foot and my hands to the beat.”

This is Maxwell’s third group of seniors participating in the program. The oldest Masonic Homes Kentucky resident in the group learning to play the guitar at 94 years of age.

“I believe there is something magical in the later years of life and I’ve seen what learning an instrument can do for a person over 60,” shared Mark.  I also think we often overlook this demographic when creating new programs.”

According to Darcus Fein, Village Active Lifestyle Community resident, singing is in her family’s blood; sharing her niece is Patty Loveless.

Years ago, Darcus’s ability to carry a tune was affected by thyroid disease treatment. Maxwell’s program has reenergized her affinity for singing. “I crank up my country music and sing and dance with my dogs, Miss Beasley and Emma,” said Darcus.

Maxwell’s program was the perfect opportunity for Darcus to work with a professional. Impressed with how much time her instructor, Dan, spent with each of the singers, she said, “If anyone decides later in life they want to learn to play an instrument or work with a singing professional, this is the perfect program. They really take their time working with you and helping you improve.”

As for the future of Rock of Ages, Mark knows the program can be successful and his focus is how to make it even better the next time. For Masonic Homes Kentucky residents, the program was a reminder that age is just a number and anything is possible.

Check out more of the story and the Masonic Homes Kentucky residents’ Rock of Ages performance below.


May 30, 2024