"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.
I founded Joy Group , which is "Joys of Music" Mustang Mentorship initiative. I mentored each young musician, led my mentees to create a better Omaha community through music and a message of unity, with a focus on training/mentoring the next generation of young musicians and serving the elderly community in the greater Omaha area.
On Sep. 14th, 2019, we celebrated the traditional Chinese Moon Festival with seniors, bringing in diversity, live music, moon cakes, small gifts and a happy hour with them. It was such a wonderful time to serve the seniors and to share the cultural diversity with our community.
Some feedback from my Mentees, the young musicians/younger performers
Seniors took time writing us a thank you card, it was very encouraging for me to continue my "Joys of Music" Mustang Mentorship initiative.
Joys of Music Group Photos - Joy Group, Dreams Quartet and Volunteers
This is the most recently event. We visited an elderly center on Sep. 14th 2019, more than 100 seniors enjoyed our visit and we had 20 young kids showing their talents.
This is just one example of our feedback survey. After music performance, we handed out the survey forms to seniors while talking with them. Such feedback is helpful, and encouraging, too, for my "Joys of Music" Mustang Mentorship initiative.
I was MC, who hosted the performance at senior center back to Oct. 2018.
Joy Group and Dreams Quartet of Omaha visited elderly on Feb. 22nd 2019 @ Elk Ridge Village, Omaha, NE.
In this video, after the quartet performance. I played Violin Duet (starting around 4 minutes 30 seconds) with an elementary student who overcame stage fright.
Those were gifts prepared for senior living community.
I was talking with elderly after music performance
Brought Live Music to Heritage Ridge, Bellevue, NE on June 22nd, 2019
In this video, after 1 minute 30 seconds there is an example how I introduced the background information of music to make a theme for the whole play.
Young Musician handed out small gift to the senior.
Performance at Sunridge Village Retirement Community, Omaha NE
on March 9th, 2019
Playing Music while adding colors to the Celebration of Elderly's 50th Wedding Anniversary
Played Violin Duet while we were at Heritage Ridge on Nov. 24th, 2018.
I enjoyed playing this piece while seniors sang along with us.
During group rehearsal, I tutored one of the young violinists, and reminded him to practice at home before group rehearsal.
Visited seniors on Dec. 8th 2018 at Legacy Retirement.
Participated Fund Raise for 2019 Spring Nebraska Flood
This is Thank You Card from Nebraska Chinese Association (NCA) for our violin performance during "One Community Cultural Festival". My mentees and myself learned different culture while we shared our Chinese music with the community.
Performed on August 11th, 2019 at Stinson Park, Omaha, NE.
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19301 Williams Street, Omaha, NE, 68130
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Date You Started Your Project Started
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?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
1. YSA (Youth Service America)
2. Thanks, Orphans and Widows of Omaha, for its support!!!
3. Thanks, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, for its mini-grant supporting us!!