Text Size

A Class with New Cadence: Exploring the History of Music at The Hearth

July 15, 2019

Since January of this year, residents of The Hearth at Drexel have embarked on a learning experience with a different melody. The Visiting Instructor in Piano at Swarthmore College, Zach Zaitlin, has been conducting a fascinating tour through the history of music for curious members of The Hearth’s community. With his friendly demeanor and wealth of knowledge, Zach has made the seemingly complex world of music both approachable and fun. “He started with Gregorian chants. From there, he showed how music grew—from singing, to instruments, and then whole symphonies,” says Grace.

For Grace, life at The Hearth has not meant slowing the tempo of her life for even a moment. As an active member of the book club, knitting group, Shakespeare club, and card group, Grace is always looking for new ways to learn and grow among the company of friends.

The Great Composer Series is a ten-week course that combines the classical structure of a lecture with the modern flourishes of technology. Each session is accompanied by videos and performances by Zach in an effort to bring each piece of historically significant music to life.

Both learning and music have been shown to have therapeutic benefits for memory. By combining the two, we hope to offer a positive experience that reminds residents of the joy found in discovery.

Jessica Buck, director of community life for The Hearth at Drexel

“I think the only thing that people wish is that they had started attending sooner,” added Grace with a laugh. “We are about to head into the romantic period of classical music, and I know everyone is going to like that.” Indeed, Zach’s The Great Composer series has been so well received that he will be returning by popular demand in June to continue with the second of his ten-week courses.

This new series will cover Beethoven through modern music. Zach noted, “It’s always neat to teach music history to seniors because many have had deep and extensive musical experiences of their own, which helps contribute to a rich learning environment. They keep me on my toes by asking on-point questions and making insightful comments about the music and composers.”

“By attending the courses regularly, I have watched attendance grow as the music has progressed. Zach has been a wealth of knowledge, and it is nice to see so many people come out to learn,” Grace concluded.