Everything Else

What Music Means To You

u3a conducted research into u3a members’ music tastes – read the results on our website. We also asked for members to share their stories with us.  This is what music means to you.

David, Mill Hill u3a

80 years ago my eldest sister awakened an interest in singing for me with Bing Crosby’s ‘Little Man You’ve had a busy day’. I also remember singing ‘I’ve got Sixpence, jolly, jolly Sixpence’.

I grew up in the East End of London listening to music on the wireless – ballads, dance music, soul jazz, operatic arias. At age 16 a friend introduced me to Bessie Smith and traditional jazz.

For the last 6 years I have been running a weekly drop-in Singalong class for Mill Hill u3a, North West London. For a Singalong you don’t need to have a good voice – just the enthusiasm to enjoy the music. Attendance 9 to 15 every week. We currently sit 4 feet apart with the doors and windows open. I create playlists in Spotify and play any songs which members request through a big speaker (Bluetooth) (that are easy to singalong to). I also make printed song sheets so that for every song the singers have the words in their hands (5 songs to a page). One year we did all the musicals from ‘Show Boat’ to ‘Chicago’. We particularly like ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘The King & I’, ‘Guys & Dolls’.

Our favourite singers are:

Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin, Julie London, The Beatles, ABBA, Helen Shapiro, Alma Cogan, Connie Francis, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Matt Monroe – and we love songs from the 60’s.

Helen, Straford Upon Avon u3a

I have always had very wide musical tastes, having been brought up in the 1950s by parents who liked big band music, jazz, classical and the modern music of the day. I have expanded on those genres and appreciate music from around the world and some more modern music, although I have never been a major fan of so-called “pop” music.

 I have passed on my love of music to my daughter and hope to expand the tastes of her children. I have been introduced to music of the younger generation and like some of it. I feel that we have the right to criticise music that does not appeal to us as long as we have a rational explanation for it.

I love jazz especially and this is sadly a minority taste, but I do not associate it particularly with people of a certain generation, although, it is, of course, a relatively new genre compared with other movements, such as classical music.

It worries me that modern distribution methods are leading to a narrowing of tastes, despite the fact that they offer us a chance to broaden our tastes. This is because the new media offer more of the same type automatically. When I was young we tended to listen to the radio and musical genres were mixed up more, I think.

However, “good” music will remain, it just takes time to filter out the lesser contributions. At one time Salieri (who was an excellent composer) was top of the pops, but it is Mozart, the bad boy, who now is better known. I was not a fan of The Beatles when they first came along but I came to appreciate them. Essentially, it is important to keep an open mind and ear.

Frances, Carlisle u3a

Music means a great deal to me.

I have been interested in Music for Therapy for over 20 years. Performing with my group of ladies for people who can no longer get out and about to enjoy a live performance. Entertaining severely disabled children, senior citizens in Retirement Homes, Hospitals. Dementia Units and Day Centres.

Music has the power to heal through helping people relive happy times and it is wonderful to see their faces come alive as they recall their youth and recount their stories. This is also tremendously rewarding and therapeutic for the performers.

Many happy hours have been spent laughing and singing with all these wonderful people and I feel privileged to have known them.

The main lesson I learned over the 20 years performing in this way is that people just want to be valued, listened to, but above all they want to laugh and have fun. Music breaks down all kinds of barriers.


I love listening to Classic radio and I also play the piano. I often hear a new piece of music which I research and download the piano sheet music – and really enjoy having a go at playing it myself! Music is wonderful and so good for one’s mood and mental health.

I have also been introduced to the fabulous music of composer Joe Hisaishi, by my daughter who loved the Studio Ghibli Anime films as a child. The films are great and Joe Hisaishi’s music is beautiful – I have loved listening to all of his compositions and playing the piano pieces too.

I would not have discovered this composer in general everyday listening.

Ian, Wissey u3a

On retiring I decided to improve my guitar playing – when I felt it was good enough, I decided to play at a music festival in my home town. Going to open mic nights helped tremendously and I made many friends in the process. Since then I have built up a collection of song sheets which I use to entertain at events and parties in the local area. I have many groups/singers in my collection ranging from Sinatra, Dean Martin and other crooners to Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones, Queen, The Killers, The Mavericks, Roy Orbison, UB40 and the list goes on. I have busked in local towns, played in care homes, local music festivals, weddings and birthday parties.