Grad Student Trades Piano Performances for Housing at Senior Facility–Melting the Age Divide and Making Friends

Beth Christensen, a university concert pianist pursuing her studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, has found an unconventional yet enriching living arrangement at Claridge Court, a senior living facility in Prairie Village. Since July 2023, she has resided there as a student-in-residence through a collaborative effort between the Conservatory and the home. What began as a practical arrangement has blossomed into a heartwarming exchange, where Christensen not only performs for the residents but also forms genuine connections with them. Her performances, initially centered on classical and jazz pieces, have evolved to include a diverse range of music, reflecting her growing comfort and rapport with the audience. Through her engagement with the community, including activities like chair volleyball and conversations with residents like Pat, a former teacher, Christensen has become an integral part of Claridge Court’s social fabric.

The symbiotic relationship between Christensen and the senior residents at Claridge Court underscores the unifying power of music and intergenerational connections. Supported by residents Charlie and Mary Kay Horner, whose longstanding involvement with the Conservatory reflects their dedication to nurturing young talent, Christensen’s presence has enriched the lives of those around her. As she reflects on her experience, Christensen emphasizes the profound impact of music in bridging generational divides and fostering genuine appreciation and understanding among individuals from different backgrounds. Through her residency at Claridge Court, Christensen not only advances her musical journey but also demonstrates the transformative potential of forging meaningful relationships across age barriers.

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