New Horizons for Adult Music Learners

Learning Strategies for Musical Success

One exciting program that serves the needs of adult music learners is the New Horizons Music Program. In the late 1980s, Roy Ernst, professor at Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, started to think about developing a music program for retired adults. Traditional community bands mostly catered for people who already could read and play music. In some community ensembles, many of the players had music degrees, and auditions were sometimes required. Roy wanted a beginning-level entry point for adults, just like elementary schools have. In 1991 Roy conducted the first New Horizons band in Rochester, New York, and the program has flourished ever since. Now approximately ten thousand adults are involved in two hundred bands, orchestras, and choirs, in eight countries, under the New Horizons banner.

Three types of beginner usually join New Horizons: those who never have learned an instrument; those who did play but gave up in…

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