Maestro David Dworkin moves his baton and a Strauss waltz begins. But instead of facing a sea of symphonic musicians, the auditorium is filled with people also holding batons, following the Maestro’s movements. They are engaged in the Maestro’s globally renowned exercise program, Conductorcise.
Click here for an exhilarating example: Conductorcise
As the music continues, two women begin to waltz in the aisle. Later, he learns that these women are living with dementia. “They haven’t moved in months,” a health care worker tells him.
At a memory care unit, he passes out batons, handing them even to people who seem slumped and unresponsive. He introduces John Phillip Sousa, offering a few tidbits about the composer. Then he starts a Sousa march and leads his group in vibrant upper body movements. Soon everyone, even three people who seemed oblivious, are conducting along with him.
Such is the power of movement and music.
Leading with Benefits
“The vibrations and energy of the music speak to people,” says Masetro Dworkin. “You benefit from relieving stress, building aerobic stamina, improving listening skills, and increasing social engagement while imagining yourself leading a symphony orchestra.”
As a bonus, you can learn a little about the lives and works of the great composers.
The program appeals to all ages and abilities and has spread around the world, from Holland to Canada to Singapore.
Conducting for Two or More
The program works wonderfully one-on-one.
“You can’t do anything wrong,” Maestro says. “You don’t even need a baton. You can use chopsticks, unsharpened pencils, a straw, or just your arms.”
Here are a few tips for enjoying Conductorcise:
- To get started, you might say, “How about helping me conduct this tune?”
- Select a familiar song your partner enjoys, one that might also inspire conversation and singing.
- Move your arms and upper body to the music and encourage your partner to move as she wishes. Move your lower body as well, if appropriate.
- For those who need extra support, add eye contact and gently stroke their arms.
- Invite friends and family members to join you.
“Everyone wants to be a conductor!” Maestro Dworkin says.
Visit http://www.conductorcise.com glean ideas from Maestro’s listening library and information about his training and certification programs.
Julliard-trained Maestro David Dworkin has led orchestras across the globe, and performed as clarinetist with ensembles internationally. He served as conductor and Artistic Consultant for three PBS Television documentaries in the series Grow Old With Me, and devoted much of his career to working with young people. In his 80’s, he has become a sought-after role model for all, demonstrating how exercise, music, joy and a positive outlook can create a healthy journey through life.
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.