In an auditorium tucked behind San Francisco’s Mission Neighborhood Center, a new choir is rehearsing a collection of familiar Spanish songs. The 20 members of the choir didn’t need to audition; no singing experience required here. Instead, they needed just one thing: to be age 60 or older.
They’re part of an innovative study spearheaded at UCSF and funded by the National Institutes of Health. Over the next four years, researchers will launch a dozen community choirs to see if singing in a choir can have an effect on healthy aging. It’s a joint project of UCSF, the San Francisco Department of Aging and the San Francisco Community Music Center.
“Everyone, they are so kind, so nice, so I feel like I am in home,” says Sanchez in accented English. He’s originally from Guatemala, and has lived in the U.S. permanently since 1977.
Sanchez says he looks forward to Friday rehearsals. And after just a few weeks of participating, he’s feeling better.