Boost your health through song

Cedar Crest’s clubs, groups cover a wide range of interests...including singing!

Created date

November 21st, 2019
The Cedar Crest Chorale performs its holiday concert in Cedar Crest’s all-faiths chapel.

The Cedar Crest Chorale performs its holiday concert in Cedar Crest’s all-faiths chapel.

Singing advocacy group Chorus America claims more than 32 million American adults sing regularly in groups nationwide. Millions of others sing in the shower, the car, or while tucking in children or grandchildren. What do they all have in common? 

Scientists say singing has many surprising health benefits—taming stress, boosting the immune system, helping to alleviate snoring, and improving mental alertness and memory.

“You can’t be sad when you are singing,” says Donna Inez, who conducts a singing group at Cedar Crest, the Erickson Living-managed community in Pequannock Township, N.J. “The positive endorphins you have when you are singing are immeasurable. By the end of the session, you really do feel renewed and ready to tackle the day. I think most people feel that way.”

The joy of music

Donna’s group of about 60 residents, aptly named the Cedar Crest Singers, will perform a holiday concert December 14 and 15. She says these popular shows sell out each year. 

The group also leads happy hour sing-alongs in Cedar Crest’s three clubhouses throughout the week. Marilyn Kaplan, piano accompanist for the Singers, plays the melody for the sing-alongs in two of the clubhouses. Neighbors gather round the piano and sing well-known tunes. 

“It’s the joy of music that I’ve lived with all my life. It really is a vehicle for bringing people together,” says Marilyn, who began playing piano at a young age and also learned guitar and flute. 

She says that having the opportunity to continue playing music and contributing is a significant benefit of living at Cedar Crest, a community with over 190 different interest groups and activities, including entertainment nearly every night of the week. 

“People thank me, and my honest answer is, the one who is getting the most out of it is me,” Marilyn says. “I know that I’m giving my time and energy, but the real winner is me. I have a skill, I have a love of what I do, and the ability to do it is major in my life. Here, I can do the thing that I love best, and there is a place for me to do what I love best. How lucky am I to be using my skill?” 

Valuable opportunity

Like Marilyn, music has been a part of Donna’s life from a young age. Donna began taking piano lessons as a child and started singing in choirs at age seven through college. Her Girls Glee Club sang at the World’s Fair and at concerts across New England. She also sang with Masterworks Chorus of Morristown and the Morris Choral Society. 

“Then I came to Cedar Crest and started singing with the chorale and took over as conductor of the Singers,” she says. And while she has no formal training as a conductor, she loves the gig.  

“I feel that the opportunity to do this is very valuable, and I don’t know what I would do if it were not available,” she says. 

Aside from the Cedar Crest Singers, the community has a Cedar Crest Chorale, Protestant Choir, Song and Dance Club, Cedar Crest Hymn Sing, and a guitar class.

Ongoing and upcoming activities

Although experts claim group singing reduces loneliness, if singing isn’t your thing, joining a group activity of any kind can offer similar benefits. 

Donna, who also belongs to the special events committee, says Cedar Crest offers a variety of clubs, groups, and, this time of year, holiday activities like Breakfast With Santa and a New Year’s Eve dance. Other holiday events include Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day parties. 

“I think people really enjoy getting out. Our events usually have at least 150 people,” she says. “They show new neighbors how many different opportunities are available for fun and camaraderie.”

Other clubs and interest groups include painting classes, a bocce league, current events discussion group, interdenominational faith communities, group exercise classes, a theater group, cornhole, card games, model railroad, woodshop, table tennis, a walking club, and fabric arts groups, among many, many others. 

Download the My Erickson app and sign in as a guest to view a daily calendar of community activities. 

“I really like living here. I’m really glad I made the move ten years ago,” says Donna. “I find the people very friendly, very open, and very knowledgeable and creative. I’ve made some lasting friendships. It makes you want to aspire to higher achievements.”