It's Never Too Late to Learn an Instrument
As a longtime music educator in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, Alexander was closing in on retirement age at the time. The idea of tapping her experience to teach seniors to play immediately struck a chord with her.
"I thought 'That's what I want to do when I retire,'" she said.
Alexander started her career in a middle school and high school in Denver where she taught art and music.
After retiring, Alexander began to spread the word about the New Horizons Band, in which amateur seniors or those who learned long ago play their favorite music. Many express astonishment at the idea.
"Our world is so youth-oriented that older people think they can't learn or do anything," she said. "Their vast experience helps them learn pretty well."
Alexander described the weekly classes as very friendly, fun and supportive with everyone learning at their own speed.
A person's physical characteristics should guide their choice of instrument, Alexander said. As an example, she said someone with a pronounced overbite won't do well on a flute but could play the clarinett, saxophone or bassoon.
With practice, Alexander said amateurs will learn to play their instrument of choice and seniors who learned years ago will regain their ability to play.
"People may never be a CD-making performer but they can enjoy a pretty high level of music," she said.
When members increase their skills, Alexander envisions the band going out into the community to play at the mall, nursing homes and even parades. She said those who can't march could play aboard a flatbed truck.
"We can do anything a kid's group can do," she said. "All the magazines say the baby boomers are the new 40," she said. "People are more active and live longer. There's no reason we can't have special, cool things to do too."