Drexel on the Road: Ukulele senior jam sessions

Drexel on the Road

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG)– One of the most popular bands in Northwest Florida is really jamming. It’s a group of senior citizens who are rocking the house… with ukuleles! And, they are rocking their health as well! 

A group of about a dozen residents of Azalea Trace Retirement Community in Pensacola gathers monthly for ukulele jam sessions. The average is age is 80, but some members have topped 90! Age isn’t an issue, says Jandy Watkins.

“Music is the first and the last thing a person can do in their life,” says Jandy.

Fellow jammer Patsy Morgan agrees. “When you get in the music and hear and feel it, it washes away the care of the day.”

Nancy Harders adds, “It was a challenge at my stage of life, but I love it!”

The group members say the ukulele music soothes their moods.

“Happy music, happy people, plus it does something for your dexterity,” says Jim Liles, a 90-year-old stroke victim.

The group members say playing the ukulele also works their minds.

Nancy Harders says, “You connect your brain to 2 things your hands are doing and are internally keeping the tempo.”

Patsy Morgan started it all after she moved to Azalea Trace a couple of years ago. “I just felt like we needed some things that applied to our soul, our spirit,” says Morgan.

And, it caught on. But of all instruments… ukuleles?

“Absolutely,” says Morgan. “There are only four strings, it’s so small you can even take it to bed with you if you have to be in bed, and play it there!”

Plus, “It’s got happy sounds to it!” says Harders.

Science confirms playing ukuleles helps with aging issues like arthritis, memory loss, balance and depression. Jandy Watkins says it also helps with spirituality. “We are healing ourselves and we are healing those who are hearing us and how God does that, I don’t know, but I believe He does.”

The Azalea Trace ukulele jam group has gone “on the road” to perform at nursing homes and other retirement facilities in the area. For more info, go to htps://www.actsretirement.org/communities/florida/azalea-trace-pensacola/

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