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Despite Physical Ailments, Musicians Play On

Photo Credit: Juan Carlos García Lorenzo, Flickr

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Sounds of brass and wind instruments fill the practice room at a music school in Manhattan. Saxophonists wait patiently for their cue. While some flutists close their eyes, their bodies swaying in time with the melody. 
 
The musicians are a part of New Horizons, a program at Third Street Music School that provides older adults with an opportunity to make music together. They're all over 50, and many of them are retired. 
 
Brandon Tesh, the Director of Third Street Music School, said aging musicians can face physical challenges that make it harder to play. He said things that were once easy for some people can become an enormous challenge as they age. 
 
"When you're holding up a trombone and you're playing a trombone for a minutes at a time it can be very tiring just being able to hold the instrument."
 
However, Tesh said Third Street Music School instructors try to adapt their teaching for each older musician, from correcting their posture to helping them change instruments. 
 
Lily Wu came to music late in life. She's 66 and has been playing the flute for 10 years. 
 
"You know for me it's a dream come true because I wanted to play flute in junior high and they wouldn't let me. They said, 'no more flutes, no more flute seats,'" Wu said. 
 
Now, Wu finds herself in the advanced section of the New Horizons Band. Wu said when she first retired it was really hard to find other hobbies, but New Horizons was a perfect fit.  
 
"It's the absolute best thing about my retirement years. You get to learn from professional teachers who are so encouraging and helpful and you also learn to work with a group on community."