And Together They’ll Make Music

The Cleveland Institute for Music (CIM) is a music conservatory in Ohio, neighboring Case Western Reserve University. It is the home to about 425 full-time music students, some undergrad and some graduate-level, who come from all over the United States and for that matter, the world. Almost all of those students aspire to become professional musicians, but in order for them to get the education they signed up for, they need to have somewhere to live during the years as students. And that can be a problem — CIM has only one dorm, called “Cutter House,” and only guarantees housing for first- and second-year undergraduate students. Upper-classmen and graduate students typically need to fend for themselves.

That’s not a great outcome, though, and CIM has been in search for solutions for years. A few years ago, for example, CIM secured some rooms at a place called Judson Manor, which until the 1950s, was a luxury hotel in the area.

But since then? It’s been better known as “Judson Manor Senior Living. Judson Manor is a retirement home.

The facility is home to approximately 120 men and women, the youngest of which — other than the students — are in their mid-to-late 70s. They live together at the former hotel, which promises its residents “engaging activities,” “wonderful trips,” “creative expression opportunities” (whatever that is), and more. And, because of the partnership with CIM, they also get to attend free concerts by some of the area’s most talented musicians — all without having to leave the retirement facility.

That’s because in 2010, a board member of CIM who was familiar with Judson Manor had an idea — ask the Manor if CIM could avail itself of some of the Manor’s empty rooms. Judson Manor agreed, and together the two institutions set up an “artist-in-residence” program. Per the New York Times, “the artist-in-residence program provides furnished one-bedroom apartments to three graduate students from the Cleveland Institute of Music at no charge, for the duration of their studies. In exchange, the students perform regular concerts at Judson Manor, occasionally with musically inclined residents.” While some skeptics were initially concerned that rowdiness would come with the small student population, those have gone unrealized to date. That may be in part because students need to apply to get into the program, a process which includes writing an essay explaining why they want to live in a home for retirees.

By all accounts, the residents seem to like having the students around, and their student neighbors are similarly happy to be part of a very different community. Other areas — Amsterdam, for example — have tried similar experiments with similar results.

Bonus Fact: The Seattle, Washington area has its own take on intergenerational institutions — just ask residents of Providence Mount St. Vincent, a retirement home in the area. The Mount, as it is often called, shares its facility with a preschool — and its residents share many activities with the young students, too. As ABC News reported, “five days a week, the children and residents come together in a variety of planned activities such as music, dancing, art, lunch, storytelling or just visiting.” Both populations seem to appreciate the arrangement, and a documentary about the joint program is in the works.

From the Archives: Dementiaville: A retirement community outside of Amsterdam which embraces the realty of its residents, whatever that reality may be.

Take the Quiz: A quiz about Cleveland from A to Z.

Related: The only song on Amazon from the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra. It’s called “Brouhaha!” (with the exclamation mark).