Photo courtesy of Central Arizona Flute Ensemble

Central Arizona Flute Ensemble (CAFE) facilitated a nine-month music residency program with Desert Marigold Senior Living (DM) as part of a Wavemaker Grant funded by the city of Tempe. The seven flutists implemented a shared community experience, intellectual engagement, and emotional connection for those living in independent, assisted living, and memory care portions of the campus.

The interactive concert formats included educational performances, singalongs, duet presentations, and a lecture/demonstration about flutes around the world. Each month, seniors were actively engaged with the music, with each other, and with CAFE musicians. If it was their birthday month, CAFE announced their names, hand-delivered personalized birthday cards while they sat in the audience, then played the happy birthday song for them. DM provided cake and beverages so the flutists could chat after the concert and enjoy the birthday celebrations with the residents.

DM Activity Director Dawn Dunn-Rice says, “Of all the arts, I prefer bringing music to this community because it is associated with movement, emotions, and memories. It can fire multiple parts of the brain at once, so music is great for brain and body health. This project was special because it afforded the community access to a collective experience with quality songs selected just for them. We just love CAFE flutists!”

Playing instruments that range from the traditional piccolo to the rare 10-foot-long contrabass flute, CAFE performs a wide range of musical styles: oldies, classical, pop, folk, patriotic, seasonal favorites, and show tunes. Since forming in 2014, they have performed at the Mesa Art Center, Desert Botanical Garden, libraries, concert halls, and Tempe History Museum.

According to one resident: “I never know what you’ll play for us, but I don’t want to miss it! Your music brings back so many memories and always makes me smile. Thank you!”

CAFE Manager Leslie Etzel says, “We are thrilled that the city of Tempe supported this project because music is such a powerful tool for connecting with others, healing, and improving one’s mood. That goes for the flutists, too!”

Desert Marigold Senior Living is located at 6150 S. Rural Rd.

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