Sunday Seniors: Lebanon music class brings together multiple generations

  • Liz Sauchelli. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

  • Meghan MacLean, of New London, holds her son, Waltie MacLean-Hafner as  her daughter, Althea MacLean-Hafner, rests in Ginny Minniear's lap on Wednesday during the Music Together Generations program at the Aging Resource Center Annex in Lebanon. (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli)

  • Mollie Gardner, of Plainfield, interacts with Devin Alexander and her daughter, Zoe Alexander, of Lebanon during a Music Together Generations program last Wednesday at the Aging Resource Center Annex in Lebanon. (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli) Valley News photographs — Liz Sauchelli

Valley News Calendar Editor
Published: 1/11/2020 10:07:54 PM
Modified: 1/11/2020 10:19:22 PM

LEBANON — Meghan MacLean handed her 7-month-old daughter, Althea MacLean-Hafner, to 70-year-old Ginny Minniear as instructor Erin Smith strummed her acoustic guitar and led the assembled group in a lullaby.

Althea settled into Minniear’s arms, one of many intergenerational moments that took place during Music Together Generations, a weekly program that takes place at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Aging Resource Center Annex in the Upper Valley Senior Center in Lebanon, also known as the ARC Annex. The class, taught by Smith, is a joint effort between the Upper Valley Music Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Aging Resource Center and Upper Valley Senior Center to bring together some of the youngest and oldest members of the community.

“My kids love that generation interaction,” said MacLean, 33. She regularly attends Music Together programs with Althea and her son, Waltie MacLean-Hafner, who is 2½, and music is a big part of the New London family’s life. “I just think watching the two ends of life are pretty special together.”

Last Wednesday, the annex was filled with sunlight and music. Caregivers and their toddler-aged children sat in a circle on the floor while “grandfriends” — Music Together’s phrase for seniors unrelated to the children in the class — sat in chairs around them.

“Hello everybody we’re glad to see you,” Smith sang as she started off the program with a welcome song that included everyone’s name.

During Music Together programs, children are encouraged to dance, move and sing as they see fit.

“This is a class where we want everyone to feel happy,” said Smith, assistant director of the Upper Valley Music Center.

That proved to be the case during the 45-minute program, which also included musical instruments and lightweight scarves enjoyed by seniors and children alike.

“One of the most important things about our Music Together classes is we love to be silly,” Smith said.

During a song about riding in a car, Smith asked the caregiver-and-toddler pairs to face their older counterparts and mimic each other’s gestures, from windshield wipers swinging from side to side to honking the imaginary car’s horn.

“We like to encourage people to make connections,” Smith said.

Devin Alexander, 29, brought her daughter Zoe, who is nearly 1.

“She’s really shy and I think she’s coming out of her shell,” said Alexander, of Lebanon.

They sat near Mollie Gardner, a 67-year-old from Plainfield.

“I love the class,” Gardner said. “I’ll be back.”

Other songs included a freeform dance to Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Music Together Generations uses a mix of new music as well as incorporating classic songs that older participants are likely more familiar with.

When the lights were turned off and Smith was playing the lullaby May All Children, was particularly touching.

“I love that baby,” Minniear, of Lebanon, said of her time holding Althea.

Minniear’s grandchildren range in age from 14-30, and she said it was nice to spend time around younger children. It also brought back memories of music programs that Minniear attended with her daughter when she was a toddler.

“I thought it was cute,” said Minniear, who regularly volunteers at the senior center.

“We’ll see you soon again, my friends,” Smith sang during the last song of the class.

A brief survey of the class’s seniors confirmed that they would be back.

Seniors interested in attending a Music Together Generations Program should contact the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Aging Resource Center at or 603-653-3460.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

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