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need advice for performing in old folks homes

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Charcloth 02 Mar 01 - 09:06 PM
Allan C. 02 Mar 01 - 10:12 PM
Spud Murphy 02 Mar 01 - 10:14 PM
Charcloth 02 Mar 01 - 10:54 PM
Sorcha 02 Mar 01 - 11:14 PM
Allan C. 02 Mar 01 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,Yorkie 03 Mar 01 - 06:27 AM
artbrooks 03 Mar 01 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,leeneia 03 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Mike 03 Mar 01 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,JTT 03 Mar 01 - 12:20 PM
Charcloth 03 Mar 01 - 01:39 PM
Sorcha 03 Mar 01 - 01:59 PM
jcdevildog 03 Mar 01 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,geebee 08 Jul 15 - 05:22 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Jul 15 - 05:52 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Jul 15 - 06:13 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jul 15 - 08:27 PM
KT 08 Jul 15 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,Lin 09 Jul 15 - 12:50 AM
GUEST,Lin 09 Jul 15 - 12:50 AM
Mr Red 09 Jul 15 - 03:54 AM
Tattie Bogle 09 Jul 15 - 04:38 AM
Susan of DT 28 Jul 16 - 07:18 AM
leeneia 28 Jul 16 - 11:21 AM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 16 - 12:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jul 16 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 29 Jul 16 - 02:11 AM
Thompson 29 Jul 16 - 06:01 PM
Stringsinger 30 Jul 16 - 03:17 PM
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Subject: need advice for old folks homes
From: Charcloth
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 09:06 PM

OK folks I normaly do Celtic folk type stuff like the Corries material but when I perform at a nursing home I mix in everything from Glen Campbell to Flat & Scruggs to Woody Guthrie. I do these cause I know Old people know the songs, especialy Gospel type numbers BUT... When I look out in the audiance there are usally some Elderly folks of African heritage & I don't any material to amount to anything that they might have grown up singing. Do you have any suggestions keep in mind I ain't got no blues voice. I also would have to hear a recording to learn it. Thanks


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Allan C.
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 10:12 PM

I hope that someone might come up with some good suggestions for you. But here is something you might consider anyway: The next time you play such a gig, once the show is over, go ask those folks and a few others if there was a particular song they would have liked for you to have played. You might get some valuable information from the whole spectrum of your audience.


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Spud Murphy
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 10:14 PM

Since I live in a Veterans' Home where the eleven hundred and twenty-five residents have an average age of over 78 years, I will offer you some advice. The folks of African heritage here like most such songs as would be written and/or played by Bob Dylan or Hank Snow or Rogers and Hart or Eubie Blake or Louis Armstrong or Meredith Wilson or Hoagy Carmichael or Glen Campbell or Flat & Scruggs or Woody Guthrie or..........you name it.

The important thing to remember is that most folks who have lived long enough to find themselves in an "Old Folks Home" usually don't make issues of such foolish things as racial divisions. There are exceptions, but you can't arrange your program on their behalf.

They will be so happy you are here, you can't miss.

God bless you for caring. Celtic stuff will be just fine.

Spud


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Charcloth
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 10:54 PM

Thanks Spud, So far most everyone likes what I am doing but I'm just keep trying to do things familer to everyone maybe bring back some found memories. I'd like to learn a French folk song or two & add another German song maybe a Spanish song too for the same reasons. I thought about contacting one of the local highschool foriegn language teachers for ideas there. But In regards to my question I have been wondering about trying some of (forgive the spelling) Mahayia Jackson material but I only faintly remember her stuff & didn't know how well it would work or if there was someone else I should take a look at


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 11:14 PM

I do nursing homes twice a month, but we have very few people here of African heritage at all, and none in the nursing homes. I don't want to sound politically un-correct here, but as a general rule, older people of any ethnic heritage like Gospel songs, and Old Time stuff....Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Golden Slippers, etc or any songs that were popular in their younger days. Hell, just ask for requests, and say you'll fill them next time,we do that a lot!


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Allan C.
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 11:35 PM

People are people no matter what and because of that there are infinite varieties of personal experiences among them. You would be just as likely to please with an attempt at Jo Stafford's "You Belong To Me" as you would with something of Hank's. To touch the memories of the most people, you would need to switch on the light to some common experiences. Most folks of the age of sixty or more, no matter what the ethnic background grew up with the radio close at hand. You could hardly go wrong with playing the songs that were on the airwaves in the 40's and 50's.

I like the idea of singing a few songs in various languages. But it can still be a rather iffy thing as far as selecting one that will be BOTH recognized and revered. For instance, an elderly person who grew up in Mexico might readily recall "Coplas"; but it could quite easily cause them to dredge up memories that perhaps might better have remained buried. It is a hard call.

I wish you the very best with your endeavors. I think it is a wonderful thing you are doing. Just bear in mind that you could probably do a fingertip balet while sporting a shaving cream tutu and would be greatly appreciated by a large part of the audience. They are just glad you care enough to be there and want to make the effort.


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: GUEST,Yorkie
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 06:27 AM

Charcloth i agree with the general advice given above; ask your audience. It is a very rewarding experience to sing in front of such an audience. on more than one occasion when I've done so, members of staff have wept, because someone who has not spoken for months, or has shown no sign of recalling past times, has come alive and either joined in or mouthed all the words. often the songong then prompts a remeniscence session. (I think that was why they were weeping! - could have been the quality of the singing)


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: artbrooks
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 09:07 AM

Hi--this is Jenn. Art ran to fetch me because I work in an adult day center and he thinks I know everything. (It's nice.) Thank you for singing for this audience. The participants, or residents, and the staff, appreciate so very much! I can't wait to try the fingertip ballet with the shaving cream tutu where I work! And you are doing just fine as to material, and have some good suggestions above, so don't worry! At our place, in addition to entertainers who come in (praise them!) we sing along a lot. They do love gospel and familiar hymns. As far as foreign language goes, they like Allouette and De Colores, and that's all we know so far. And they took to "Waltzing with Bears" and "All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir". They like to sing patriotic songs--from "Yankee Doodle" up to and including "The Star Spangled Banner". If you really want them to sing, song sheets help. Thank you again for going to the old folks.


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM

Glen Campbell, Hoagie Carmichael, Bob Dylan? All their stuff is going to be copyrighted, and you shouldn't be doing it.

I admit that the possibility of somebody from ASCAP dropping in on you is slim, but it has happened to people I know.

So go to a public library and look in the music section (somewhere in the 780's) and check out a couple of those songbooks with titles such as "Good Old Songs that Everybody Knows" and add some songs from the public domain to your repertoire.

In my experience, senior citizens like songs from before their time just fine. So don't be afraid to use stuff from the 1880's and 1890's. Maybe it's because these were the songs they learned in school as kids.

Recently I did a show for Alzheimer's patients. These are people who could hide their own Easter eggs, but they remembered and sang all the words to "Five-foot-two, eyes of blue."


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: GUEST,Mike
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 12:07 PM

The last time I played in a VA hospital, an African-American vet told me he'd never heard Celtic music before, and was quite taken with it...maybe I made a convert! Everyone seems to like lively jigs and reels. But my group plays quite a bit in nursing homes and hospitals, and I'll agree that a lot of older folks seem to like tunes like "Golden Slippers", "Amazing Grace", etc. For a really beautiful tune from old Mexico, one that all people seem to like, learn "La Llrona". Even if you can't sing in Spanish (or sing at all for that matter) the melody is beautiful. If you can't find this melody, drop me an e-mail at corvos@localline.com and I'll send you the music. I've never seen a "formal" piece of sheet music for it, but I have a by-memory transcription from a friend with good knowledge of traditional Mexican tunes.


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 12:20 PM

Yeah, ask them. I was at a performance in a tourist venue a couple of years ago, here in Ireland, and the singers were doing all the songs we know and love. There were a couple of very glum Americans sitting there. Then they launched into some of the Irish-American stuff - "If You're Irish, Come Into the Parlour" and things - and they really cheered up. The familiar is loved.

And it's a graceful homage to your audience to play the songs of their particular culture. I wonder if there's an African-American old people's association who'd help you with information about what songs were popular with their people when they were young?


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Charcloth
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 01:39 PM

I hadn't thought about the ASCAP folks 90% of my usual stuff is public domain but at nursing homes I had been departing a little from that (I think I'll wait untill I cross the ASCAP bridge when I have too--extortionist that they are--they don't have much compassion). I am gonna add some Spirtuals to my material. I love doing Gospel stuff anyway But I don't want to limit myself to just Gospel material. I think most of the folks who come in are church groups singing hymns & sometimes preaching & thats great but me thinks something different would be appreciated once & a while. I try to entertain & just visit with them kinda like you would in your own living room. (I wonder if I ought to get a Rise Up Singing song book)


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Sorcha
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 01:59 PM

Just Because, Angry, Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone, Whispering, Alley Cat, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Red River Valley, You Are My Sunshine, RedWing, any Bob Wills, Marty Robbins, Tex Ritter, Tex Tyler, Ernest Tubb,some Stephen Foster..........


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: jcdevildog
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 05:20 PM

Remember, "niche" radio is a relatively recent phenomenon, so the musical memories of older folks are likely to be much more similar across ethnic lines than ours are today--especially if they come from outside the big urban centers. When I was a kid, we only got 2 radio stations, and they played everything: folk, country, big-band, you name it.

But I agree that varying your repertoire is a good thing generally: you could try some gospel, swing and jazz standards. And I heartily support asking for requests: you never know what songs people keep in their heads and hearts. I play most years with a pick-up band at a local church which prepares Christmas dinner for the homeless, elderly, lonely, etc. Last year a middle-aged African-American man asked for "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling": luckily I knew the words, and we were able to oblige--but who'd have anticipated it?


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: GUEST,geebee
Date: 08 Jul 15 - 05:22 PM

I have recently started to sing in nursing homes and love doing it. I am 75 years old. They seem keen to have me back. I am singing and entertaining in 14 different homes and I am happy to do that as I try to have different songs each time I entertain in the same place. I do not charge anything and I'm happy to do that. My problem is that the homes seem keen for you to return but some don't appreciate what you are doing. I have been "Double Booked" a couple of times. Another time I was singing to three ladies they said they hadn't let anyone know I was coming. There was once when I had driven about half an hour and was setting up when I was told that there was something else on and I would not be needed that day. What is going on. My hour of entertaining seems to go well by the number of people who come and talk to me when it is finished.
Do I expect too much from the Homes?
Is it because I do it for nothing?
Some Homes are very good to go to but a few are not organized.


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Jul 15 - 05:52 PM

that's not just homes . its giging generally. you are trying to apply professional standardsto people who aren't professionals at booking acts. it happens in folk clubs, pubs the world over. one folk club closed down months before and never bothered telling the artists booked.

i suppose charging a fee would make people take more care at getting it right.


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jul 15 - 06:13 PM

geebee,
I have occasionally sung in rest homes over the last 50 years and I've always been welcomed by the residents and the workers. Don't be disheartened. There will be plenty of homes, particularly the non upmarket ones, where you will be very welcome. Simply cross those that are not welcoming off your list.

It might also be useful to let the manager of the home know where you were unfairly treated. The carers are often very busy and understaffed particularly in the current economic climate.


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jul 15 - 08:27 PM

I lead a church group that sings at 8 to 12 nursing homes for Christmas and Fourth of July. We've built a personal relationship with the staff members of most of the homes over the years, so things go along quite smoothly. There are occasional problems and misunderstandings, but that goes with the territory. Sometimes, homes have too many things happening, and just don't have time to accommodate another group - that's more likely if the woman who does our booking doesn't contact homes in time.

But overall, it has been a wonderful experience. I especially like the "memory care" homes. Even though these people may have Alzheimer's, they often remember all the words to every song - and they're not hesitant to sing along.

I am always careful not to talk down to my audiences. Maybe they have shortcomings, but usually they're intelligent enough to understand everything I'm intelligent enough to say. They often really like to hear the stories behind songs, and they like banter and humor and teasing and flirting and my blatant lies. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy singing at nursing and retirement homes. If you treat them like adults, they are so appreciative.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: need advice for old folks homes
From: KT
Date: 08 Jul 15 - 09:03 PM

Hi geebee.
I've been on both sides of that fence. I used to be the Activity Director at our state-run home, where I was responsible for doing all of the bookings. Though I have since retired, I still sing there frequently, so see it from that angle as well.

I think the problem you mention could be remedied by calling to confirm with the activity director the day of your gig. That way, if they've forgotten or double booked, you'll know and save yourself the trouble of the drive there and the set up. With regard to the numbers of attendees, I wouldn't worry about that in the least. If your music can lift the hearts of even 1 or 2 residents, that will be valuable time well-spent. The last time I sang at this place, it was unplanned, I was not on the schedule, and there were only two women sitting in the hall as I was passing through. I asked them if they'd like to sing a few songs with me. They were very eager, so I got my guitar and we started singing. Within 10 minutes, another 15 people joined our session and it was a very happy, uplifting time for all of the participants.

An important thing to keep in mind - Sometimes a resident's condition may prevent them from being able to acknowledge appreciation for your offerings. Understand that their appreciation is not measured by their ability to express it. Music can be very healing on so many levels, not all of which we can see.

Good luck!
KT


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: GUEST,Lin
Date: 09 Jul 15 - 12:50 AM

Just an idea here. You might want to contact the director of activities ahead of time (maybe a few weeks before the show) and have the director ask or nurses aids ask the patients three songs they remember as some of their favorites from the past. If patients can write it themselves on the paper that would be fine too. If not, the nurses aid or director can write it down.
Then you can go there to collect the papers with the songs written down and get an idea ahead of time as to the songs they would like to hear.
I know one favorite song of some older folks in the homes is, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and some Bing Crosby songs too.


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: GUEST,Lin
Date: 09 Jul 15 - 12:50 AM

Just an idea here. You might want to contact the director of activities ahead of time (maybe a few weeks before the show) and have the director ask or nurses aids ask the patients three songs they remember as some of their favorites from the past. If patients can write it themselves on the paper that would be fine too. If not, the nurses aid or director can write it down.
Then you can go there to collect the papers with the songs written down and get an idea ahead of time as to the songs they would like to hear.
I know one favorite song of some older folks in the homes is, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and some Bing Crosby songs too.


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: Mr Red
Date: 09 Jul 15 - 03:54 AM

And maybe do it more than once!


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 09 Jul 15 - 04:38 AM

Phone the day before to remind them you're coming. You'll probably get someone who says "I know nothing about it" - if so, phone again on the day, then you might get someone on the same shift. (As KT has also suggested.)
As for payment, perhaps being free means they that, paradoxically, they don't actually value you so much. My friends and I do a number of these gigs, and don't ask for a penny for ourselves, but do request a modest donation to our parent musical organisation which has struggled for funding. Or you could nominate a favourite charity. Many of the residential and nursing homes do have a small entertainment budget.

On the whole most places do know we are coming, and are very welcoming, and will have moved residents to a lounge or sitting room before our arrival. Usually we will get the same tea and biscuits as the residents, but in one place (now blacklisted!) we played for an hour and a half in sweltering heat and were offered nothing while they all got tea and cake: we pointedly helped ourselves to their water machine.


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: Susan of DT
Date: 28 Jul 16 - 07:18 AM

Dick Greenhaus and I live in a retirement community. We are on the Entertainment Committee that books acts for weekly the entertainment night on in the auditorium for the independent living residents and also run the ukulele group that plays monthly in the medical wing.

The weekly auditorium programs are a mix of singers (mostly broadway), bands, choruses, storytellers, and lecturers. Celtic singers are consider different from folk and we get one or two of them a year. We try to bring in folky acts twice a year. They have not all been well received. It is more important that the person is a dynamic performer, rather than have an interesting set of traditional songs.

For the ukulele group that performs once a month in medical, we do a mix of seasonal songs, old standards, pop music form the 1920s to 1940s, gospel, popular folk, and patriotic. We give them song sheets so they can sing along. We are very well received.

Shows in the auditorium are 60 minutes. Shows in medical are 45 minutes.


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: leeneia
Date: 28 Jul 16 - 11:21 AM

Here's an excellent tip I got from my aunt, the elderly nun.

When dealing with old people, slow down your talk. It's amazing the difference it makes. When I was 45 and my mother was 75, I could see her eyes widen with pleasure when I began to talk, because she knew she would be able to understand what I was saying.

This applies to people with other English dialects, as well. English speakers around the world use different vowels and lingo, and slowing down from the lickety-split we use at home is a good idea.


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 16 - 12:23 PM

I find that for the most part, familiar songs are most popular. And usually, a couple of verses is enough - five-verse songs will lose them. Mixing stories with songs can be very effective, too. I try to make the performance into a conversation punctuated by songs, and that works very well for me. People like to participate, and they like to be spoken to as adults. Even when dealing with memory care patients, never talk down to them.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jul 16 - 08:50 PM

Remember that if you were 20 in 1960, you'll be 76 now. So don't go assuming the music the punters would enjoy is all pre Rock and Roll.


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Jul 16 - 02:11 AM

I've been playing at a nursing home and a senior center, quite often, sometimes several times a week. They have a piano there, so it makes it easy just to pop in and play....I've found that, rather than worrying about 'song selection', if you can play 'emotionally', your audience will, (and does) relate to times in their lives when THEY lived in those emotions.
I'd suggest taking the time tapping into the 'common denominator' of the heart, rather than 'preaching' to them, in music....they don't care about the struggles that certain types of music (especially political messages) try to promote...but they do respond, and well, to when the music touches their soul.....and reminds them of love, simplicity, and innocent hope....peacefully. They respond to the same spontaneous manifestations of those (per aforementioned) that they've experienced through out their lives.

True story!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: Thompson
Date: 29 Jul 16 - 06:01 PM

Also, what about asking people what they'd like to hear, then asking them to sing a verse with you, to teach you the song. They'd get a bang out of that — even if they can't remember all the words. And once you have the first line or so you can probably find the song for next time.

It's also lovely to make someone a star among their peers, which will be the effect if you call them up to sing with you.

This YouTube video, Black music from the 1940s might give you some ideas too.


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Subject: RE: need advice for performing in old folks homes
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Jul 16 - 03:17 PM

African-American material such as gospel and spirituals always go over well.

Most important: Talk to the people and acknowledge that they are human beings.

Songs from when they grew up is good. Simple popular songs from the thirties, forties and early fifties are good.


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