Music is often referred to as a universal language.

For the children in Louise MacDonald’s Kindermusik class, and the seniors at Halifax’s Parkstone Enhanced Care Seniors Home, music is also helping to bridge the generation gap.

Kindermusik is a program that provides children with a musical foundation and helps them to develop important skills.

“So, we might be working one week on fine motor skills, like if we’re doing the ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider,’ or we’ll be working on gross motor skills, where we want them to move their bodies in large ways,” says MacDonald.

MacDonald says each activity targets physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills, such as speech.

“Like today, we did Fiddle-de-dee, Fiddle-de-dee, so that D and L sound, which are hard for young children to get those phonetic sounds,” says MacDonald.

MacDonald started bringing her class to the Parkstone Enhanced Care Seniors Home in October and modified her program to include their “grand-friends.”

“If we’re going to be playing with scarves, we make sure we’re playing with scarves and having them hold one end. If we’re going to be playing with balls, we pair up with them, so that they can be part of the ball play,” says MacDonald.

Lynette Stevens is a recreational therapist at Parkstone. She says the program has provided a positive emotional experience for the residents.

“As soon as the children came in, they’re just smiling and laughing and they’re humming to each other about how cute they are,” says Stevens.

The class promotes emotional wellness, but it also meets the physical and social needs of the seniors. The therapeutic benefits of music are well documented and the program is no exception.

“It doesn’t even really matter that they’re targeting songs toward younger children, they catch on really quickly and they’re singing along to the songs and doing the actions,” says Stevens.

MacDonald says the reception has been fantastic and they are always made to feel welcome.

Parkstone resident Jim Hall is embracing the class with open arms.

“By golly, I was right amazed by what I was coming into,” says Hall. “I didn’t realize I was going to come in to a lot of fun.”

Hall says he feels great after the children’s visit and it leaves a smile on his face.

“Golly, it’s a new experience to me because I never had children of my own, with my wife and myself. I wish we did have, but it wasn’t to be, so I more or less made up for it today.”