New Horizons International Music Association



Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How did New Horizons Music get started?

Answer: The idea of senior adults playing music was developed by Dr. Roy Ernst of the Eastman School of Music. He envisioned that many adults, as they approached and entered retirement, would be interested in making music in a group setting, but might not have the skills or confidence to get started.

Question: How are New Horizons Music programs different from other music programs?

Answer: New Horizons Music programs provide entry points to music making for adults, including those with no musical experience at all and those who were active in school music programs but have been inactive for a long period. A New Horizons Music program should be inclusive rather than exclusive. There are no auditions. Every person has musical potential that can be developed to a level that will be personally rewarding.

Question: Who sponsors New Horizons Music programs?

Answer: Sponsoring organizations for New Horizons Music programs include music dealerships, schools, community music schools, college music departments, recreation centers and senior centers.

Question: I would like to join a New Horizons group, but I don’t think I have any musical talent. No one else in my family has ever done anything in music. People say that I’m “tone deaf.” Can I really do this?

Answer: Professor Roy Ernst says that EVERYONE has musical talent. “In more than 40 years of teaching, I’ve never found anyone who couldn’t learn music.” If no one in your family makes music, you would become a great example for them by starting.

Question: I’m not 50 yet. Can I join?

Answer: Absolutely! The program originally was targeted for people 50 and over, however, many groups now open their membership to adults of any age. This is essentially a decision that is made at the local level. There is no hard and fast rule.

Question: How do I know what instrument I should play?

Answer: Your preference is the most important factor and the starting point. If you love the look and sound of a trombone, for example, you should start with that. Check with your conductor or teacher to see if you have any physical conditions that could be a problem. It’s rare when that is the case. If your heart isn’t set on a certain instrument, ask your conductor or teacher what the band or orchestra needs. You will be even more important if you play an instrument that fills a special need.

Question: How do I get an instrument?

Answer: You can usually rent a good instrument in good condition at a modest cost from your local music retail store (your instructor should be able to help you find a local store). Usually, if you change your mind about what instrument you want, the dealer will make an exchange for you. The most important thing is to get a good instrument in good condition. Some people become frustrated if they try to play an instrument that no one could play. If you have an instrument in the attic or if you find one at a garage sale, take it to a music store with a repair shop to find out how much it would cost to put it in good condition and whether the instrument is worth repairing.

Question: Are there New Horizons programs other than bands?

Answer: The first New Horizons program in 1991 was a band, but the intent was to also start other kinds of New Horizons programs. New Horizons orchestras started a few years later. The concept and philosophy of New Horizons Music can be applied to many other types of music making classes.

Question: How do I find a band, orchestra or other New Horizons group in my area?

Answer: All of the New Horizons groups are listed on our web site. Go to the New Horizons Groups page to see detailed information. There are also groups that may be just forming or preparing to start, and you can find details about their program on the Planning Members page.

Question: Our New Horizons group needs to update the information you show for us on this web site. How do we do that?

Answer: To update your group information, please use our Add New or Update Group Information form.

Question: We are a brand new New Horizons group. We are not listed on your web site. How do we get our group listed here?

Answer: To add a new group, please use our Add New or Update Group Information form.

Question: We have recently become New Horizons Planning Members. How do we get listed on your web site, and how would we update our planning information?

Answer: To add or update your Planning Member information, please use our Planning Details form.

Question: I want to change my preferences regarding the publications I am published in, which ones I receive, how I receive them (printed or electronically), and my email preferences. How can I do this?

Answer: Use our Member Preferences form to do any or all of these things.

Question: I want to start, but there are no New Horizons groups near me. What can I do?

Answer: Go to the Starting page where you will find all of the information you need to start a new group.

Question: How much does it cost to join a New Horizons group?

Answer: Membership Fees/Tuition vary from group to group, but in a study of 35 New Horizons groups, the average weekly costs were from $5 to $10. There can be additional costs for lessons.

Question: Where do New Horizons groups perform?

Answer: In addition to formal concerts, performances in shopping malls and summer concerts in parks, they often play for retirement and nursing homes where added events are really needed.

Question: How does music benefit me?

Answer: Active participation in music fills important needs for adults – the need for challenging intellectual activity, the need to be a contributing member of a group, and the need to have exciting events in the future. For many people, music can serve these vital needs better than anything else. It provides an opportunity to experience profound and serious thoughts or joyful moments. It makes connections to the past, the present and the future. It also connects one to other individuals and other cultures. Making music is a way of making vital connections to life. Early studies indicate that music making can reduce depression and increase the strength of the immune system.

Question: What is New Horizons International Music Association?

Answer: The international organization is a support group for New Horizons groups and individuals. Its purpose is to:

  • Continue Roy Ernst’s vision of expanding music making opportunities for adults
  • Foster a positive atmosphere for creating new adult bands, orchestras, choruses and other music groups
  • Provide services of interest to adult music groups and individual members of NHIMA including:
    • Newsletter
    • Web site –
    • Membership Roster
    • Information about Music Camps
    • Discounted Registration to some Music Camps
    • Music Education
    • Special Values on Selected Musical Items
  • Encourage groups to sponsor New Horizons Music Camps and encourage opportunities to visit and play music when traveling by visiting other New Horizons groups
  • Encourage communication between New Horizons groups, their conductors and individual members on questions commonly faced by their groups

In fulfilling these goals, New Horizons International Music Association does its best to keep membership costs low, and welcomes comments and suggestions from all New Horizons members – both groups and individuals, across the US, Canada and the world – on how it can assist them in making their New Horizons musical experience as rewarding as possible.

Question: Why should I join NHIMA?

Answer: To support the continuation of New Horizons Music education and opportunities for adults.

Question: What will it cost for membership in NHIMA?

Answer: It will cost $10 for an individual membership or $15 for a couples membership. Go to our Membership page for more information. There are also planning memberships, group memberships and business memberships available.

Question: Can I apply for a new membership or renewal membership in NHIMA on-line?

Answer: Yes! Go to our Membership page. There you can either download a membership application, fill it out and return it with your check, or you can do the entire process on-line.

Question: How do I change my address that is on file with NHIMA?

Answer: Use our Change Your Address or Make Other Changes form to change your address.

Question: If my question is still not answered on this page, how do I ask NHIMA a question or send a message?

Answer: Use our Questions or Messages for the President (of the NHIMA Board of Directors) form.