The Happy Birthday Project

The “Happy Birthday Project” was created by Tina Bennett, NAfME Music Honor Society Advisory Council, Member-at-Large. For questions about this project, please email us at


Click the image for an introduction from Tina Bennett about the Happy Birthday Project


General Project Overview:

This project provides a community service for your students to connect with your local senior citizens/senior care facilities. Students can do this individually or in small groups.


Getting Started:

  1. Identify local senior care facilities. This can be done by a Google search. I also suggest asking students if they have any family members in care facilities. Having a personal connection may encourage the students to participate.
  2. Call or email the facility and connect with the Activities Director.
    • Explain the overview of the project.
      Example Script: “Hello, my name is Mrs. Bennett, and I am the Choral Director of the Clarion-Limestone School District. Since Covid has prevented me from taking my choir into Senior Facilities, I am reaching out to offer a remote opportunity to your residents. This project is called the “Happy Birthday Project.” What we are offering is a personal video for your resident provided by my students. This video would be my student singing/playing happy birthday to your resident, along with positive messages, and a small introductory statement about the child who is performing the song. We would need the First name, and birthdate and year of your resident for our students to begin recording, we would send these to you in digital form for you to play on a computer for the resident on their birthday. Would this be something you would be interested in?”
  3. Once you establish communication with the Activities Director, you then need to get the names and organize the students into calendar form. You can either go month-by-month, or have all the students do it at the same time and send it. I suggest getting it all done at once; have the kids all get their video completed together. This becomes a group/individual project that the students focus on together and allows you to give deadlines.
    • You will have a video of each student singing/playing that you can use to grade or evaluate their performance. This becomes less stressful for the students, and a win-win for you to listen to each student and do a community service and accomplish a standard all at the same time.
    • NOTE: I suggest that any resident turning 100 or over gets the entire ensemble. They deserve it. Have the kids dress up, or record it the night of a concert, but you need to make a big deal out of that birthday.


Guidelines for the Video and Recording Tips:


Collecting the Videos:

  1. Give the students no more than 2 weeks to complete the project. Any longer will draw it out too long. Collect all the videos and send them together.
  2. Organize the videos by Month. Use a master folder and within that folder have 12 folders listed by month. In each month title each video by date. This will allow the director to find the videos easily.
    • You can have a class officer(s) help with the organizing of the videos. Split them by calendar quarters and share a document that each officer can organize from their own computer.
    • Make sure the officers watch all the videos checking for any issues. Students should bring any issues to the teacher’s attention that can be addressed.
    • OPTIONAL: Once everything is organized and vetted by the students, the director can (if they choose) use these videos for a class grade using the rubric of their choice. You can give feedback etc. This is a flexible part of the project.




Comments from Tina:

This could be an annual project that you do every year. You can either shift the residents around or give the students the same ones. You can use different facilities; you make it what you want.

Another possibility would be for you to expand this to small ensembles. Use small groups of students to prepare and record different songs example, Christmas songs (I had students do One Sacred, one secular, and one up-beat fun song. ) this could be sent to a group of residents and again become a graded or evaluated project if you wish. The future possibilities are endless. You could even transition into going to the facility (if possible) to perform love for the residents.

This project is an amazing opportunity for your students to connect with older adults, and a way to give back to the generation that inspired so many.