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  • The Music Settlement appoints Afi Scruggs as Head, Creative Aging Department

The Music Settlement appoints Afi Scruggs as Head, Creative Aging Department

The Music Settlement is very excited to announce the newly developed, comprehensive Creative Aging Department within our Center for Music. Leading our efforts is former outreach instructor, musician, and teaching artist, Afi-Odelia Scruggs.

About Afi

Afi's primary instrument is electric bass and she also plays keyboards, mandolin and balaphone, the West African ancestor of the xylophone. She is the staff bassist for Progressive Evangelistic Baptist Church and also plays bass for the youth choir of Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church, both in Cleveland. In addition to gospel, Afi plays blues and jazz. She has been a teaching artist since 2004 and has developed arts-integrated curriculum for subjects ranging from social studies to financial management. She conducts songwriting workshops, coached middle and high school students, and is also an award-winning author, columnist and reporter.

About Creative Aging

Due to the positive results of current adult programming at The Music Settlement, we have developed a Creative Aging Department through Cleveland Foundation support for researching, designing, piloting, supporting, and expanding arts and culture opportunities for adults aged 55 and older throughout Northeast Ohio. We feel our curriculum and adult courses are very unique to Cleveland.

As the population of aging Americans steadily increases, communities are experiencing a growing need for valuable programming to serve their needs and interests, as well as to support their mental and physical well-being. Professionally conducted participatory arts programs have striking benefits for older adults: they improve health outcomes, decrease depression and loneliness, and increase participation in other beneficial activities (documented in the landmark “Creativity and Aging” study published by George Washington University, 2006). Participating regularly in activities like dancing and playing an instrument can reduce the risk of dementia in older adults by as much as 63% (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2006).

A Creative Aging program at The Music Settlement therefore has a key role to play in meeting the unique needs of our aging population in Cleveland such as socialization, mobility, and support of brain health (skills retention, stimulation, and memory care). We plan to partner with community organizations and experienced arts professionals to help coordinate and promote the creative aging programs. We will provide programming on-site at our University Circle and Ohio City campuses, as well as at various senior living communities and community centers throughout Northeast Ohio.

Four current programs form the foundation for the department:

  • The Settlement Singers boasts 20 members who sing everything from Beatles, to Broadway, to folk.
  • Adult Orchestra lets woodwind, string, and brass players experience the joy of group collaboration and performance.
  • Old-Time Jam is a monthly circle of instrumentalists who gather around traditional roots music.
  • Musical Mix & Mingle creates pop-up chamber ensembles where participants sight-read, rehearse briefly, and play.

The Creative Aging Department will grow these ensembles and create more music-making opportunities tailored to life-long learners.

To learn more about The Music Settlement and the Creative Aging Department, please contact Afi Scruggs, Creative Aging Department Head, at

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