Connecting with Older People through Music

Sign with words "Every thing will be OK"
Art commissioned from Jason Scott Kofke is the perfect backdrop – delivering a message of hope.

The Roswell Arts Fund is delivering a little bit of joy to local senior living centers with mobile musical performances. The performances deliver a moment of delight and surprise that is meant to be experienced outside and at a safe social distance.

As COVID-19 has disrupted our way of life by limiting and changing human connections, this is one way we at Roswell Arts Fund are reaching out to those who have been further isolated. Older people are one high-risk population that has remained on a shelter in place order, which sadly creates distance with family and limitations for enjoying activities around the community. Now more than ever, people need art for a positive experience in a troubled world.


How the Pop In Series Came to Be

The idea for the mobile musical performances came about from the people in the community, and the Roswell Arts Fund worked quickly to bring it to the audience we felt needed it the most – it’s how a vibrant community listens to the needs of its own. It is amazing to see how people want to support one another.

The idea quickly became known as the Pop In Series because it is designed to pop in and bring something a little special, like a great friend, neighbor, or relative would do when checking in on a loved one. If people can’t go to the art, let’s bring it to them.

The Pop In Series immediately gained momentum. So far, the outdoor traveling show has popped in on eight communities serving over 400 of our neighbors.

People sitting outside under covered area watching stage
Our older residents enjoy music at a safe distance from each other.
People sitting watching two musicians perform
Our enthusiastic fans helping with the sound check.









What Does this Pop-In Look Like?

A truck pulls the stage up to a pre-screened location that is set up for optimal safe viewing from the residents, and we have a quick set up time. Residents can watch from the windows, balconies, or at a safe distance outside.

Woman sitting inside clapping and looking out the window
Staying safe. Finding a perfect seat just inside the window.

Musicians are chosen for the relevance of music. Our first two sets of musicians were the phenomenally talented Caitlin Bayles and Rolando Salazar singing popular sing-along songs, like “Unforgettable” and “God Bless America”, and the duo Wild Iris Rose with favorites like “Jolene”.

Two musicians perform outside
The band, Wild Iris Rose, performs.

It’s fantastic to see the range of personalities at the different senior living centers. Some are clapping for an encore while others watch from inside. Sometimes the crowd might seem small because everyone is inside. At one venue, we played to an open courtyard while residents sat inside at the windows. That’s okay. That is how we know residents are keeping safe and we are making a difference.

There is smiling, clapping, and a little dancing, and you can also see how much the event means by observing the little things – a tap of the foot, singing along, grabbing a VIP front row seat just inside the window. A little surprise is just how much the staff and caregivers appreciate the performances too. There have been tears of joy. We are all hungry for connection right now. It is our honor to be there.

The Pop In Series is our greeting card from the community letting our older neighbors know they are loved. We are in this COVID-19 pandemic together, and we will get through it together.

Two musicians perform on stage for an audience
Caitlin Bayles and Rolando Salazar perform.

Amy White

Amy is a big believer in arts as a community builder. Arts engage the community and have the opportunity to create a sense of place, mentally and physically. She is happy that the Pop-In Series chose to focus on bringing joy to their older citizens during this time. Amy is one of the citizens who help created the Pop-In Series.