"Joys of Music" Bring Multi-Generations Together and Closer

"Joys of Music" creates a better and closer community through music, bringing together younger musicians and lonely elderly.

Photo of Joseph Zhong
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

https://www.instagram.com/joygroupomaha/ https://www.oandwofomaha.com/volunteer-working-page

Date You Started Your Project Started

June, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Elders often feel left behind and forgotten. I read a news article on how elderly have some of the highest depression rates, which might exacerbate their feeling of loneliness and lead to a lower life quality. Younger musicians sometimes are shy and have stage fright, and lack of means to show (or nurture) a passion and love toward others in need. This initiative is to build a bridge and to close the gap between older and younger generations.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Music cheers up the elderly and brings them the happy moment. Music helps build up confidence within young musicians. Last summer, I founded the Joy Group "Joys of Music", a student-initiated group with young performers/volunteers ranging from 7 years old to college students. Being the founder and director, I have a vision to train and mentor younger students to overcome stage fright and to bring them to serve elder communities to nurture their care for the community. How to fulfill my vision? We have played several live music performances at various senior living communities across the Omaha Metro. To do so, I first organize a team of student volunteers, followed by regular rehearsals. I also tutor each student/performer. I then contact the elder community for show date and the theme, and arrange the program; Before the show, we prepare gift drives for the elderly and prepare tokens of care for elders. The gift sets we prepared are seasonal and design for occasions such as Thanksgiving, Chinese New Years, and Chinese festival. This initiative not only gets young musicians involved, but also engages with adults, their parents, it is a true family volunteering together.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Joy Group "Joys of Music" gives me a chance to give back to the community especially those similar to the one who raised me. My grandma has always been my greatest supporter. She raised me up, and then she left her home in China and came to US, without knowing a single word of English, helping me adjusting here. Because of my grandma, I have always felt indebted to the elderly in the community. I experienced the magic of Music while I volunteered playing violin with Omaha Symphony for its Christmas Celebration back to 2012. I was a shy boy, but whenever I was on stage, music made me brave. While the audience sang along with our violin music, I saw the Joys of Music shining upon the audiences. Playing with young musicians is the best ways for me to utilize my strengths, give back to the community, encourage and inspire the next generation to care about others and the community.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

I am stepping up to make changes because I believe music is a powerful tool. Even though the video is longer than 1:00, I shared great experience how Music changed people. Seniors mentioned in this video used to be in choir, it has been long time since they sung last time. When we played live music there, "The Sound of Music" refreshed the seniors. Their passion for music was rekindled, which encouraged me continue pursuing my "Joys of Music Mustang Mentorship" initiative and to move it further.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

I had an experience in encouraging the next generation of musicians. An elementary schooler had a lot of potential of performance, but was especially shy. I first encouraged him to do a performance with a group of five violinists. Slowly as he got involved in more and more performances and had plenty of encouragement and private practice sessions with me, he began doing pieces with four, three and two violinists, and progressed to his own solo performance. It was truly an exceptional experience learning both to help someone like him grow, and seeing him grow. Now he enjoys standing before large audience playing violin with much confidence. I had another experience how Music changed people. The seniors@one location used to be in choir, it has been long time since they sung last time. "The Sound of Music" we played rekindled the seniors' passion for music and for singing songs.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

My project is to get everyone connected through multi-generations (from younger musicians to lonely elderly). Music is powerful tool to engage everyone no matter how old he/she is. Survey feedback from the elders show how much they appreciate the music. Every interaction with a young person brings joy and connection to the elders. Training/Mentoring young musicians (ranging from elementary schoolers, to middle and high schooler) will ensure the sustainability of this initiative. Having children and parents involved in this service help strengthen and bring closer relationship to the community.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The seniors were impacted in a positive way. We had feedback survey, a few direct quotes I got on the feedback were, “Joseph Zhong was very good and all have a beautiful talent.” and “I love all the music -enjoy the program very much. Please Come back!” The feedback isn’t the only sign of change in the seniors. They showed high spirit after the performances, looked more relaxed, and went from a sober frown to a laughing smile during the course of the performance. This impacted the other performers and helped them be more excited about volunteering again and they tended to carry this positivity with them after the performance. The families of the performers were also more inclined to volunteer and contribute back to the community because they had felt and seen the happiness that came from those we had helped. I have mentored 15-20 kids and brought live music to at least 500 seniors.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

1, To engage more young musicians with a diverse range of age and ethnicity, and to bring more diverse cultures to the elderly community. 2, To train/mentor younger musician leaders to ensure the sustainability of this initiative and to ensure the continuity of this project. 3, To reach out more elders in community. There are always some elders who are under-served. 4, To utilize technology to compose more diverse music programs to reflect the diverse cultures in our community. And to celebrate diverse holidays (Thanksgivings or Christmas, Lunar New Year or Chinese Moon Festival and so on) via live music performance. 5, To build a long term bond with elderly communities via frequent music performance/sharing memory of live music.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 40%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 60%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 40%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 40%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 60%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

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Attachments (2)

Joseph Zhong T Mobile ChangeMaker 2019.pdf

Summary of my own "Joys of Music" Mustang Mentorship initiative.

T Mobile ChangeMaker JZ Letters.pdf

Reference letters from my Elementary Orchestra Teacher and from Founder and Executive Director of nonprofit organization.

6 comments

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Spam
Photo of Tia Johnston Brown
Team

I love you idea Joseph. You are driven, humble, and passionate about your work. I can tell you really connect to your music students and the elderly people you engage.

Spam
Photo of Joseph Zhong
Team

Thanks for such encouraging words!!

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