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Tuned in

Lifelong musician listens to her heart, finds happiness at Fox Run

Created date

April 11th, 2016
Fox Run resident Jan Riccinto

Fox Run resident Jan Riccinto

Music has played a tremendously important role in Jan Riccinto’s life. Her mother was a private piano and voice teacher, exposing Jan to music at a young age. When Jan moved to Fox Run, the Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich., she found a whole new audience for her music.

One day, she sat down at the piano in the clubhouse, where residents gather for meetings, meals, card games, and other activities, and started playing show tunes and upbeat oldies. Her neighbors enjoyed the music, so Jan started playing more often—leading sing-a-longs at afternoon happy hours or providing some background music as people make their way to lunch or dinner at Fox Run’s on-site restaurants.

“It’s fun because where I play here at Fox Run, there’s a lot going on. I can look out and see people singing along, tapping their foot, or nodding along and keeping time.”

Jan says she is happy to provide live music in the clubhouse as often as her schedule allows. “Music is meant to be shared, and it can be really therapeutic for people,” she says. “It’s easy for me to do, so why not share it?”

Lyrical lifetime

Jan studied choral music education at the University of Michigan, where she met her husband Len, who was enrolled in the same program. Both Jan and Len went on to become music teachers, she at the elementary level, and he at both the high school and college level.

“Our lives have been really quite parallel,” Jan says of Len. “We were involved in doing musical things together all our lives.”

After college, Jan and Len married and had two children, both of whom also have careers in music. The couple’s three grandsons all play the piano—clearly musical talent runs in the Riccinto family. While she was raising her children, Jan also was very involved in the music program at her church, playing the organ and directing the choir.

A change in tune

Jan says she moved to Fox Run from her four-bedroom house in Saline because maintaining it was becoming a burden.

“We had a nice home there, but it was just a lot to take care of,” Jan says. “It was time to think about making a change.”

About a year ago, Jan moved into a Kingston-style apartment home at Fox Run. Her spacious unit has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a scenic view of the campus. She uses her spare bedroom as a combination home office and guest room, which is perfect for when her grandsons come to spend the night. 

“They love to come here. They like the pool, and they like to go to dinner with me,” she says. “We have a good time.”

While Jan’s new home at Fox Run is smaller than her old house, she has found it is all the space she really needs. Before she moved in, she worked with the community’s personal moving consultant to figure out how to best arrange her furniture in her new space.

“I wanted to bring my grand piano and grandfather clock, both of which fit very nicely,” she says. “It’s working out very well.”

A positive note

Aside from playing at happy hours, Jan recently helped to form a new men’s chorus on campus. The community already had an active co-ed choir, but Jan thought it would be nice for male singers to have their own group, not only to sing but to socialize as well. 

Working with a men’s choir is familiar to Jan. Her late husband founded Measure for Measure, a well-known Michigan men’s choir. Jan says her husband started the choir in the late 1980s when he was teaching at Eastern Michigan University. Nearly 30 years later, the group is still going strong and has about 100 members. 

Jan used to accompany the chorus and says she witnessed the positive impact the group had on its members.

“That prompted me to suggest a men’s chorus here,” she says. “I saw that group evolve over many years, and I saw what a group like that did for the men.”

Right off the bat, several men were interested in joining the men’s chorus at Fox Run, and Jan hopes interest continues to grow. Jan plays the piano, while the gentlemen sing show tunes and other popular songs from their generation. They performed at a recent happy hour in the community’s clubhouse. 

“They are very nice guys, and they are becoming very enthusiastic about it,” she says. “If I can offer them something, I am happy to do it.”

In addition to filling the halls of Fox Run with beautiful music, Jan is also having fun getting to know her neighbors. She enjoys going to the movies shown on campus and having dinner with new friends at the on-site restaurants.

“It’s really fun to have dinner with whomever I sit with because everyone is so interesting and welcoming,” Jan says. “It’s a nice blend of all kinds of people and backgrounds and careers.”

Playing piano, organizing the men’s chorus, and spending time with her family keep Jan busy for now. But, in time, she says she may get involved with some of the many other clubs and committees at Fox Run.

“There are lectures, book clubs, day trips—it’s amazing what they have going on here,” she says. “It’s like a little city.”

During this winter’s cold and snowy weather, Jan enjoyed the freedom that maintenance-free living at Fox Run provides. Rather than worrying about freezing pipes or shoveling snow, Jan was able to spend her winter days doing things she loves.

“It’s liberating to not have to worry about the weather,” she says. “I’m thoroughly enjoying it here. It’s a good fit for me.”