Youths' jazz band enlivens seniors

June 06, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Lillian Moore rolled back and forth in her wheelchair, bobbing her head up and down as the jazz band from Brooklyn Park/Lindale Middle School played "All Shook Up."

The sound was pure Big Band -- saxophones, trumpets, trombones and drums -- no electrified instruments, if you please. It sent Mrs. Moore, 72, back to the days when she glided across the dance floor and filled her with the urge to dance again.

"I can't help it," said Mrs. Moore, who wore red earrings, lipstick and a red-and-white blouse with white slacks. "I do it all the time. I love music. My feet go, too.

"We would dance to that when we were kids. We did the Lindy hop, the shag, the rumba, the tango and the fox trot."

She and about 50 other residents at Meridian Nursing Center in Brooklyn Park were treated to a half-hour concert Friday afternoon by 15 students. The concert was the idea of Jessica Taylor, an eighth-grader.

The 13-year-old got the idea from a talk given at the school earlier in the year by the nursing center's assistant activities director and activities director. The two described what life was like in a nursing home and how they used activities such as bingo to help residents fill their days.

Touched by the talk, Jessica told a teacher she wanted to entertain the residents before the school year ended. Then she called the nursing center and set about enlisting the help of fellow students and two music teachers to put on a show.

On Friday, she performed several etudes with two other clarinetists. Soloists sang "Without You," "Power of Love," "These Are The Days," and "Hero." The jazz band played "On Broadway," "Tears In Heaven" and "All Shook Up."

"I thought [the concert] was terrific, especially the last [song]. If I could have, I would have gotten up," said Mrs. Moore, whose bad back forced her to be content with mouthing words to the song and rolling about in her wheelchair.

A sign hanging on a wall in the nursing center's dining hall where the concert was held reads: "We old folks know more about being young than you young folks know about being old!"

The words on the sign are especially true when you compare the dances of old to those of today, said Lurena Koch, 86.

Mrs. Koch said she got a kick out of Friday's concert. She stopped dancing just five years ago, she says, because of creaky knees.

"Young people today, they do it differently. I don't think young folks today have the energy to do it the way we did," said Mrs. Koch, recalling the sugar foot, a move where dancers hopped up and twisted on their feet. "Not many people in my crowd could do that," she said. "But if I was on my feet, I could do it."

In her day, even a good waltz on a big ballroom floor would send dancers swirling about the room, she said. "You could dance all round the floor," said Mrs. Koch. "You didn't stay in one spot like they do today."

Susan McConnell, assistant activities director at the nursing center, said she thought the concert was uplifting for the residents.

"It's something they look forward to, especially when the young people come in," said Ms. Connell.

Mrs. Moore, who hopes the students come to perform again so she can rock 'n' roll some more, said, "It was a delightful break in the day."

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