The Hynes Family Quintet was founded in 2006 by Maggie and Robert Hynes, the two oldest of five siblings. After having performed separately for years as members of regional orchestras and ensembles, the quintet was formed to perform at local assisted living facilities, nursing homes and councils on aging.
Through observation and feedback from the staffs of these facilities, it became obvious over time that the live performances had a therapeutic effect on some of the residents of these facilities who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
In 2010, Robbie Hynes was named to the Advisory Board of AFA Teens, a branch organization of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, in recognition of efforts with Memory and Music.
The Hynes Family Quintet are:
Maggie Hynes - Cello - Maggie graduated from Colgate University in May and is a management consultant in Washington, DC. She is a past member of the Colgate University Orchestra under Conductor Marietta Cheng
Robbie Hynes - Viola - Robbie is a junior at Colgate University. This semester he is studying in Australia and has handed off his responsiblities as Musical Director to Tommy.Tommy Hynes - Violin - Senior at Norwell HS. Tommy is the current Musical Director of the HFQ and Captain of the Cross Country team
Brigid Hynes - Violin - Norwell High School
Brigid is a sophomore at NHS and will be auditioning for Senior District regional orchestras this year and serves as a member of Best Buddies
Brendan Hynes - Viola - Norwell Middle School
As a 7th grader Brendan will have the opportunity to audition for regional orchestras for the first time this year. He also plays hockey and is a standout lacrosse goalie in the spring
Making others smile, through their music: Norwell siblings perform at the senior center.Zoom Photos. Dave Neault.
By Tessa Fitzgerald
Norwell — The melodies of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart could be heard emanating from the lower level of the Norwell senior center earlier this week, as a group of five siblings shared their talent with local music lovers.
SLIDESHOW: Hynes Quintet
The youngsters in the Hynes Family Quintet treated seniors at the Norwell Council on Aging to a 12-song classical concert Monday afternoon, performing a set that included solos as well as songs performed as a quintet.
The young musicians are all children of Bob and Mary Beth Hynes, and they each play a string instrument.
Maggie, 17, plays the cello; Robbie, 15, plays the viola; Tommy, 12, plays the violin; Brigid, 10, plays the violin and Brendan, 7, plays the viola.
Each of the youngsters take music lessons, individually, from Toni Rapier and Bonnie Harlow, a mother/daughter musical instruction team who play with the Boston Pops and the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, respectively. The children also practice together once a week and their music of choice is classical and folk.
“What better fun that to play with your siblings,” Maggie said on Monday. Maggie, now a student at Norwell High School, said she began playing the cellowhen she was in the third grade.
“I think everyone just wanted to tag along after that,” she said. “It’s kind of turned into a family extravaganza.”
“It’s been all her,” Boy Hynes said of his daughterMaggie. “She’s been the one who’s really driven the effort.”
Bob Hynes, who does not play a string instrument — he plays the piano —said his children have been playing recently at assisted living centers in the area. Many of the patients they play for have Alzheimer’s disease, he said, and the nurses have told him they see an increase in the patients’ mental capacity while they’re listening to the music, and after.
“It’s very rewarding,” Maggie said. “It’s really cool to see music tap into a part of their brain that other things can’t.”
Maggie, who said she hopes to be a musician and a doctor, is working on putting together tapes for college admission. Though playing an instrument requires many hours of practice, Maggie said she finds playing to be soothing and relaxing. It’s a great stress reliever, she said.
Brigid, who’s now at the Vinal Elementary School, began playing the violin when she was in kindergarten.
“I like it because not a lot of people do it and I think it’s a fun thing to do,” said Brigid.
Bob said the ability to play a musical instrument is something that will serve his children well in life. “All the hours of practice are worthwhile when you hear them play,” he said.
Recently, both Maggie and Robbie have been chosen to play in the Massachusetts District and SEMSBA orchestras through school.
When planning for a concert, the family selects pieces of music which all of them can play. “It’s a nice challenge to have,” Bob said.
He said they are considering expanding their concert range, though the children’s school schedules will have to be worked around.
Monday’s concert was the first time the group performed at the Norwell Senior Center and Hynes said they also plan to do some holiday concerts.
The seniors loved the concert, and gave the family a standing ovation at the end. The concert ended on a high note, with the quintet taking on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
“I thought it was just great,” said Thelma Osborne, a Norwell resident who was in attendance. “That little one, I got a kick out of him,” she said of Brendan, who left the stage in the middle of a song a few times, which many of the seniors said they found endearing.
Osborne said she’d love to see the local quintet return to the center someday.
“It was great,” added Barbara Brenner. “The little one, he was so cute.”
“The family’s got to be very blessed,” Dorothy Dickson said. “I thought it was wonderful. We’re very lucky, the seniors here in Norwell. They do a lot for us.”
Lillian Hartstone said everyone enjoyed the concert. “You have to appreciate all the effort and time [they put in],” she said.
Rosemary O’Connor, senior center director, said the Hynes’ are a great family with a community background. She said the concert was excellent and that the musical family would be welcome to return at anytime.
Reporter Tessa Fitzgerald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Robbie Hynes Blog for AFA Teens...
In this post by an AFA Teens Advisory Board Member, read what Robbie Hynes thinks are the benefits of music therapy for people with Alzheimer's disease and why it's important for teens to form intergenerational connections.
Like many other teens, Alzheimer’s disease has had a significant impact on my life. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago, and I have witnessed first-hand the effects that this disease has on families. When I was in elementary school I looked forward to visits from my grandfather a few times a year. In recent years, however, I have only been able to see him a handful of times. When I speak with him on the phone I sometimes feel as if I’m not even speaking with my grandfather anymore. It is a struggle to maintain a conversation since he will address me by different names, and I can sense the increasing difficulty he has putting cogent thoughts together. I find myself having to remind him about my life when I talk to him in order to carry on the conversation, and this has made me very sad. When I first became aware of his condition, I did not understand how over the span of a few years, my grandfather, who has known me my entire life, could forget almost everything about me.
Then, a few years ago, when my older sister was doing research on the positive impact live music might have on those living with Alzheimer’s disease she introduced me to AFA Teens. My family was very excited when we found this organization and wanted to find a way in which we could help contribute to its cause. AFA Teens is an organization that by virtue of its very existence provides a “home base” for families and specifically young members of those families who have a relative with Alzheimer’s disease. One avenue we have used to attempt to “connect” with individuals with the disease is tied directly to one of my family’s major interests: music. Music has played an important role in all of our lives, and we were fortunate to find a way in which we could help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and have a fun time doing it. My siblings and I first formed a quartet and later a quintet that consists of two violas, two violins and a cello. We began to contact local nursing homes and assisted living centers and volunteered to come and play our music for their residents. Many of the residents at these facilities are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and our goal was to observe how they would react to the music. It was astonishing to realize how much of an impact our music actually had on many of these people. We were even more surprised at how thankful the residents and staff were that we took the time to visit.
Our first concert was at a nursing home in our town, and we had put together a program of five songs to play. As we unpacked our instruments and prepared for the performance, the crowd of elderly people was quite loud and talkative. I distinctly remember a person in the audience shouting at me to ask when we were going to start. Prior to the concert, the head of the nursing home had informed us that many of the residents had Alzheimer’s disease and that they could be loud and restless. So, we were not entirely surprised by the initial reaction when we first arrived. Then, we introduced ourselves and began to play our first song. As we began to play, a silence fell over the crowd; all you could hear was the ringing sound of string instruments. This caught me entirely off guard, and it was clear to me that our music was acting as a sort of therapy for the residents. I was very excited by this because now we were not only doing something we enjoyed to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, but our music was acting as a way to soothe people affected by the disease.
Just a couple of months ago I saw my grandfather for the first time in a few years, and he insisted that I play my music for him. I was very curious to see if he would react just like the people at the nursing homes have—and he did. As I played, I sporadically glanced over at him to see him sitting there mesmerized by the music. It was a very rare occasion to see my grandfather able to sit down and concentrate on one thing for more than a few minutes, and I felt very proud of myself that I was able to provide a temporary respite from the disease for those 10 minutes during which I played that day.
But there is more work that can be done to make lives better for both people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Even though all of us do not play music, perhaps there are other modes of interaction that can help people in assisted living facilities. . Just as one of our family’s concerts breaks the monotony of the day-to-day routine, perhaps getting more young people involved in visiting these centers might also be beneficial. In a day and age when everyone’s schedule seems stretched to the max, maybe it is time for teens to step back and assess what they can do, what they can personally do, to help make things better.
AFA Teens has created a forum for young people to exchange experiences and possible solutions for the myriad problems facing families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. However, taking full advantage of that forum requires all of us to take the first step, take the initiative, and make an effort to bring what can be a positive vision to life. Our older population will continue to grow over the coming years; so will the number of individuals (and families) coming to terms with Alzheimer’s disease. Hopefully the number of teens willing to step up and become involved will grow as well.