Click on the link above to view our story that was featured on WBAL News!
Julien Xuereb is just 26 years old, but he recently became a new resident at Springwell Senior Living. A classical guitar graduate student at the Peabody Institute, he is the first appointee of Springwell’s “Artist-in-Residence” Program, an initiative that offers a local artist complimentary accommodations, in exchange for the provision of ongoing entertainment and interaction with community residents. Julien can be seen and heard throughout the Springwell community, playing guitar on a daily basis in areas that are open to residents and guests. He also offers private performances for two residents per week in their rooms, performs at weekly “happy hours,” and participates in a more formal monthly performance, often in collaboration with other entertainers who are invited in as part of Springwell’s comprehensive and ongoing activities calendar.
“Julien is an extremely talented entertainer and we are so fortunate that he is part of our community,” said Phil Golden, Director of Springwell Senior Living. “He’s also a very kind person. Our residents are gaining tremendous personal enjoyment by listening to him play guitar, and also by building personal relationships with him. The more he performs, the more people are interested in learning about him and hearing him play. His music is bringing a lot of joy to a lot of people.”
Julien’s love for music dates back to his childhood years, when his father used to play guitar to put him to sleep in Reims, France, where he grew up. He started playing guitar himself at the young age of seven, and eventually realized that he could make a career out of his hobby and passion. As a master’s degree candidate at the Peabody Institute, Julien began taking advantage of available community outreach opportunities, playing guitar in local hospitals and cancer centers to bring peace and enjoyment to patients and families during their times of distress. When he learned that Springwell Senior Living was looking for volunteers to not only perform but live within the community, a golden opportunity was born.
“I believe the music is about giving and sharing,” Julien said. “Joining the Springwell community as a resident creates a true ‘win-win’ because music adds a lot of happiness to people’s lives, and I have a job doing what I love most, while also being able to interact with the people who live here as my neighbors and friends. The fact that people believe in me enough to entertain others just inspires me to do more.”
Robin Power, a nurse practitioner and psychiatric consultant for Springwell Senior Living, says research shows that music can have a positive impact on an individual’s health, both physically and mentally.
“There are studies that support the positive effects of music in improving visual and verbal skills, maintaining memory and mental acuity, improving sleep quality, boosting the immune system, reducing pain and surgical recovery time, normalizing blood pressure and pulse, reducing stress, mitigating depression and anxiety, and elevating mood,” she said. “There is already a tone of thoughtfulness, mindfulness and grace at Springwell that can only be enhanced by the Artist-in-Residence Program. I am really eager to see what happens as our residents spend more time with Julien.”
Terri Hanlon, Director of Activities at Springwell Senior Living, believes that Julien’s presence will benefit everyone in the community, with the potential to generate an especially positive impact for dementia patients who are struggling with memory loss and quality of life factors, as they age.
“Music is entertaining, but it is also soothing, calming and therapeutic,” said Terri. “People can enjoy it until the end of their lives. This is one of the reasons why Julien is playing guitar three evenings per week, just before dinner, in our Memory Care Unit. Our residents love hearing Julien play, and we expect to see a lot of positive outcomes over time.”
Diane White is one of many residents thrilled to call Julien a neighbor. While her experience at Springwell as an independent living resident has been positive since she moved in about six months ago, she explains that having music integrated into her daily environment changes her entire perspective about living in a senior living community.
“Julien is truly so good at what he does, and he draws people in with his music,” said Diane. “I love music and knowing that I have so many opportunities to be exposed to it, now that Julien is here, further enhances the way I feel about Springwell. I constantly look at the activities calendar to see where and when he is playing next. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.”
Springwell Senior Living established a partnership with the Peabody Institute in late June, 2015, as part of both organizations commitment to creating programs around the concept of “community connectivity.” As Peabody students train to be top-level professional performers, they are also encouraged to find and develop new audiences, sharing their musical gifts in ways that are meaningful to their communities.
“Programs like this offer our students an opportunity to make connections in a very deep and personal way,” said Fred Bronstein, Dean of the Peabody Institute. “Music communicates in a universal way that can’t be matched by any other medium. It entertains and enriches lives by opening minds and expressing emotions that make life better. Julien is a talented and engaging young musician who can put together unique programs to match the interests of Springwell residents.”