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Playing nursing home gigs

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Marion 30 Jul 02 - 05:47 PM
BH 30 Jul 02 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,greg stephens 30 Jul 02 - 06:51 PM
Bullfrog Jones 30 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM
Genie 30 Jul 02 - 10:47 PM
Marion 31 Jul 02 - 12:08 AM
Genie 31 Jul 02 - 12:39 AM
Genie 31 Jul 02 - 12:51 AM
pavane 31 Jul 02 - 09:53 AM
BH 31 Jul 02 - 06:50 PM
musicmick 01 Aug 02 - 02:27 AM
Marion 01 Aug 02 - 02:30 AM
Genie 01 Aug 02 - 04:11 AM
Mudlark 01 Aug 02 - 04:13 AM
Genie 01 Aug 02 - 04:20 AM
Genie 01 Aug 02 - 04:29 AM
shankmac 01 Aug 02 - 04:38 AM
Genie 01 Aug 02 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,maryrrf 01 Aug 02 - 10:19 AM
BH 01 Aug 02 - 06:38 PM
Genie 01 Aug 02 - 09:03 PM
Marion 02 Aug 02 - 12:09 AM
Ferrara 02 Aug 02 - 12:56 AM
Genie 02 Aug 02 - 01:02 AM
Genie 02 Aug 02 - 02:53 PM
Genie 03 Aug 02 - 12:44 AM
Marion 03 Aug 02 - 02:36 AM
GUEST,Marion 08 Aug 02 - 11:21 AM
Genie 08 Aug 02 - 02:53 PM
Marion 15 Aug 02 - 11:02 AM
Genie 15 Aug 02 - 12:25 PM
Genie 15 Aug 02 - 12:43 PM
Genie 15 Aug 02 - 12:45 PM
Marion 15 Aug 02 - 03:16 PM
Genie 15 Aug 02 - 04:51 PM
Marion 20 Aug 02 - 07:19 PM
GUEST,Marion 18 Sep 02 - 03:06 PM
Ferrara 19 Sep 02 - 01:35 AM
GUEST,Dirty Old Git 19 Sep 02 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Dirty Old Git 19 Sep 02 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Dirty Old Git 19 Sep 02 - 04:58 AM
M.Ted 19 Sep 02 - 03:31 PM
Genie 19 Sep 02 - 04:25 PM
M.Ted 19 Sep 02 - 05:14 PM
Genie 19 Sep 02 - 07:01 PM
Marion 21 Sep 02 - 04:26 PM
M.Ted 21 Sep 02 - 04:54 PM
Marion 21 Sep 02 - 05:06 PM
Marion 22 Sep 02 - 03:00 PM
Genie 22 Sep 02 - 09:49 PM
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Subject: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 05:47 PM

Hi all. There's been a lot of great discussion in Getting nursing home gigs about the business side of playing for the seniors' market.

I hope in this thread to look at the performance side. I expect I'll have specific questions later, but for now the general question is: what makes a good nursing home show? What are the skills needed to do well in this niche market?

I'd also be interested in repertoire suggestions, general or specific. Actually, if I listed the songs that my band on I are currently working up, would anybody be willing to critique the playlist?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: BH
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 06:31 PM

I am not a performer---but I once had an experience in a "senior retirement" hotel. The anecdote might be of interest.

Quite a few years ago while visiting my late mother I noticed that in the afternoons the people just seemed to sit around a lot and stare out at the world. They seemed animated when the "weekly" performer (sing a long sort of thing---and oldies) appeared--also when the daily excersiser was there.

Knowing that my mother had kept for all the years the annual tapes I sent her of an annual concert I produced then I thought how nice it would be if we set up the "rec" room one afternoon and I would introduce the program and they might listen---it was a disaster.

They were not there 5 minutes and they sure became animated--fighting over people sitting in other people's chairs, this is not part of our routine, why can't we sit and watch the card players, etc; It almost got physical.

The point is, I suppose, that in these facilities people like their routines---and if appearances become a regular occurence it works. And--it has to involve them.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 06:51 PM

Well, the obvious stories centre round people dying while you're performing. It's only happened to me once so far.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Bullfrog Jones
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM

Oh come now, Greg. You must have died more than once!*BG*
@@
(~~)


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 10:47 PM

Marion, feel free to PM me your playlist and I'd be glad to give you feedback on it -- FWIW.

Bill H., you've hit an important nail on the head -- seniors in nursing and, to a somewhat lesser extent, do tend to be protective of their routines. (It's against most state laws, for instance, to interfere with Bingo.) If they have a customary way of arranging the chairs, you may run into some strong resistance if you try to set them up differently.

Do ask the activity director of the facility about the tastes and other preferences of their residences. They very well may be wrong (e.g., telling you the residents want "songs from the 40s and 50s," when the residents perpetually ask for "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "Bicycle Built For Two," and "My Blue Heaven"-- all from earlier eras), but it beats winging it, until you've had more experience with these populations.

Involving the residents is very important. This may mean singing the same song several times in a session, playing it much slower than you normally would, and/or (when possible) calling out the words to the next line (as is often done in "On Top Of Old Smokey.") (Pete Seeger is a great role model for this.)

Use amplification if your instrument and voice are not really loud. In most nursing homes, there will be other 'voices' upstaging you, otherwise (ice-making machines, folks setting up the dining room, a leaf blower outside the window, overhead announcements, and staff talking as though there were no activity going on). Wireless lapel mics are especially good.

If the facility does not have big print song books, you may want to put together some of your own. (I'll fax you some of mine if you PM me a fax number.)

If they don't have rhythm instruments, you may want to buy a few egg shakers (or talk the activity director into making some for the residents) for folks to use while you play.

Also, unless the residents are at advanced stages of Alzheimer's, they will appreciate humor. Parodies of the sort that are done around scouts campfires are great (but skip the "I'm looking over my dead dog rover" type of sick humor).

I'd also keep the songs about growing old to a minimum. Many performers go into senior facilities armed with "Silver Threads Among The Gold," "Sunrise, Sunset," "Get Up And Go," "Love, Me," "Hello In There," and a slew of other songs about aging. Generally, one or two of those per session is plenty.

Enough from me for now. What do you other folks suggest?

Genie


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 12:08 AM

Great to see you, Genie. I'll post our songlist here, so that anyone wandering through can comment. This isn't a playlist (i.e, it's not in playing order or geared to a certain amount of time) but rather a list of songs we chose to start with. We plan to choose more once we've observed what kind of songs are working best.

Piano solos: The Entertainer, Moonlight Sonata, Fur Elise

Fiddle tunes: Maple Sugar, Redwing, St.Anne's Reel, Red-Haired Boy, Westphalia Waltz, miscellaneous reels and jigs

Folk songs: Danny Boy, Loch Lomond, When You and I Were Young Maggie, Swanee River, Wild Rover, Dixie

Country/Gospel: Keep On the Sunny Side, I Saw the Light, Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Battle Hymn of the Republic

Pop: Bicycle Built for Two, Tennessee Waltz, Good Old Summertime, I Want A Girl, The Band Played On, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Five Foot Two, Side By Side, Long Way to Tipperary, Too Ra Loo Ra, Can't Help Falling In Love, In the Ghetto, Are You Lonesome Tonight, When You're Smiling

Showtunes: Eidelweiss, Old Man River, You'll Never Walk Alone, When I Fall in Love, Climb Every Mountain, When You Wish Upon a Star, Bring Him Home, Oh What A Beautiful Morning

Miscellaneous: O Sole Mio, Ave Maria, America the Beautiful


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 12:39 AM

Great list, Marion. I've observed that if it's an instrumental and you do it well, you can play just about any style (with the possible exception of John Cage or some really far out bebop). A good classical number or two will always appeal to a lot of the residents, too.

The only songs on your list that I think most nursing home residents won't be really familiar with are Wild Rover, In The Ghetto, and Bring Him Home. But that's fine. There are always a few residents who get tired of hearing Let Me Call You Sweetheart all the time, and most folks are interested in hearing a 'new' song or two within a set. (Besides, there's sure to be at least one Elvis fan there, and they'll love In The Ghetto!) And Wild Rover is fun, even if it's not one the residents have heard before.

Anything else you can add that was really popular in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s will probably go over very well, whether it was written in the 18th C., 19th C., or later.

BTW, you didn't mention "You Are My Sunshine." You should know that if you don't have that in your repertoire (preferably all the verses), you'll get a ticket from the sing-along cops.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 12:51 AM

Marion,
This thread is about sing-along songs from the '20s and '30s.  click here

Genie


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: pavane
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 09:53 AM

Agreed - the show tunes go down well. (A lot of the show tunes are actually OLDER than their shows!)

Anything from the 1960s back to the music hall era. The UK song list would be slightly different, of course, and well-known Welsh-language songs (e.g. Sospan Fach)are often requested here in Wales.

Watch out for songs like 'That'll be the day (that I die!)'

My wife always takes a spare mic & lead and gets them to sing along.

Keep the PA volume low.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: BH
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 06:50 PM

Genie: what a wonderful point you make in agreement about "routines" not being upset---and the chair placement. Exactly what transpired.

I must say, however, I never thought that people would sing the likes of Silver Threads, Hello In There, and such---but perhaps you are wise to make note of it.

My guess is that this has to be the hardest type of performing to do.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: musicmick
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 02:27 AM

My experience with nursing home audiences suggests this list of concensus favorites. 1 God Bless America

2 You Are My Sunshine

3 Side By Side

4 Toora Loora Loora

5 Let The Rest Of The World Go By/ Smile The While (I do them as a medley)

6 When The Saints Go Marching In

In extreme old age, the mind tends to recall the songs of childhood. So, even though, your audience might have heard Elvis in their twenties, they are more likely to respond to the standards they learned in grade school.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 02:30 AM

Regarding songs about aging: I've found that older people like to hear "When You and I Were Young, Maggie". I don't understand what you mean though, Pavane, about avoiding songs about death. I would have thought that seniors are more in touch with death than the general population; have you gotten bad feedback about this? (Not that I would want to play American Pie, it's a little too young a song, but I don't intend to avoid death as a subject.)

Genie: I've told you about my mother's hymnsings; often I go with her to fill in for her singing partner, and she plays the piano. Part of my job as the singer is to keep an eye on what's going on with the songbooks, and if someone's having trouble finding the page I go closer to them to tell them the page number, or trade books with them so they have it already open to the right page. Now, I gather from what you've said that you work alone. Do you accompany yourself, and if so, how do you handle helping people with the songbooks? It seems like it would be impossible to do if you're a lone pianist, and quite awkward if you're a guitarist.

On a related note, if the facility you go to does have songbooks, do you use them or your own? And thanks for your offer of faxing materials, but we have access to a word processor and can make our own.

One more little thing; the last time I went fiddling at a nursing home, I noticed that the singing-along in one particular lobby was of exceptionally high quality. I mentioned this to a staffworker who said, "Don't you know, that was Maureen Forrester..." who I've since learned is a world-renowned classical/opera singer. Now I'm shy about going back to that part of the building!

Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 04:11 AM

Marion, there are several versions of "Maggie," and some versions/verses dwell on how old and grey we are and how near the end, while others dwell more on how "you're as fair as you were." I don't avoid death (like "...the grave will decay you and turn you to dust/ Not one boy in a hundred a poor girl can trust..."), but I don't focus on it as a theme, either. I tend to save "Maggie" for Irish theme programs and for grandparents' day and maybe Valentine's programs, or I sing a short version.

I don't usually use songbooks for groups that can't handle them readily without help--unless there are staff present to help. They can be very useful in assisted living and independent retirement homes, where they're used just like a hymnal is in church (only with much bigger print). For Alzheimer's patients they're often a lot more of a distracton than a help. (Folks get so busy looking for the song that they forget that they already know the words to "Let Me Call You Sweetheart.")

As for faxing already formatted materials, I offer that option to anyone interested, not because you can't make your own, but because the formatting can be very time consuming,* and it seems a shame for everyone to have to "reinvent the wheel." I'd be glad to swap lyric sheets with anyone who's interested -- i.e., I'll show you mine if you show me yours. *G*

Re 'competing' with Maureen Forrester, I should mention that I end up being compared with the whole Boeing Chorus in Seattle (and I understand they're excellent!). Also, some of my audience members used to play with bands such as Tommy Dorsey, Kay Kyser, Glen Miller, etc., and others were concert pianists, opera singers, etc.

Genie

* My current songbooks are infinitely better than the ones I first made up. I've learned never to print lyrics in all capitals, because that decreases legibility, and I've discovered some fonts that are measureably easier to read than others. I have also done a lot of research into getting lyrics and author credits right, rather than just making it up from memory, as I did at first.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Mudlark
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 04:13 AM

My Bonnie is good for sing-along, also the I been working on the Railroad/Dinah song, and Coming Round the Mountain. For nostalgia, My Blue Heaven, Let the Rest of the World Go By.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 04:20 AM

When short term memory deficits set in, folks tend eventually to recall little except from early childhood, so if my clients are over 90, I try to use songs that either are simple or would have been learned when they were children.  (Note:  It's not all that unusual for some of them to remember all the verses to hymns that they learned as youngsters.)  Younger audiences (75 to 90-ish) and folks with significantly less cognitive impairment tend to know the words to a lot of songs they sang as teenagers or young adults and often are especially partial to the tunes from their courtship days.  (Don't forget that in most nursing homes, there's about a 15 to 20 year age spread even within the "main" population.  Some were 'weaned' on turn-of-the-century songs and others on songs from the roaring twenties.)

If a song is very catchy, energizes folks, and has an easy chorus, it doesn't matter too much how old it is. (See the list at the bottom.)

Here are some examples of songs I find go over very well as sing-alongs for various types of facilities.

Alzheimer's facilities:

My Bonnie
Clementine
Down In The Valley
Red River Valley
I've Been Working On The Railroad
Take Me Out To The Ball Game
Jesus Loves Me*/He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
My Wild Irish Rose
Home On The Range
Oh, Susanna
Moonlight Bay
She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain
I'm Looking Over A Four-Leaf Clover
Comin' Thru The Rye
Bicycle Built For Two
School Days
Sidewalks Of New York
Pack Up Your Troubles
There's A Long, Long Trail A Winding
Old MacDonald
 
 

Assisted Living facilties

Always
It Had To Be You
Sentimental Journey
How Great Thou Art
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?
Red Sails In The Sunset
My Old Kentucky Home
Danny Boy
Blue Hawaii
My Blue Heaven
Blueberry Hill
Tennessee Waltz
Edelweiss
Yankee Doodle Boy/You're A Grand Old Flag
God Bless America
Please Release Me
The Glory Of Love
Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Java Jive
Georgia
Goodnight, Irene
Michael, Row The Boat Ashore
For Me And My Gal
Three Little Fishes
On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Don't Fence Me In
I Love You Truly
All Of Me
Any Time
Nevertheless
Besame Mucho
Hey, Good Lookin'
Your Cheatin' Heart
I'm An Ol' Cowhand
 
 
 

Both Memory Impaired and Assisted Living sing-alongs:

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning!
Springtime In The Rockies
In The Garden
Side By Side
You Are My Sunshine
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Baby Face
Yes Sir, That's My Baby
America The Beautiful
Let The Rest Of The World Go By/Till We Meet Again
Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral
Shine On, Harvest Moon
Home On The Range

La Bamba
Three Little Fishes
Doggie In The Window
Proud Mary
Wimoweh


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 04:29 AM

* (from the above post) -- If it's a Jewish home, of course, I skip the "Jesus" songs, and if I think the group is of mixed faiths, I tend to use more sect-neutral songs such as "Amazing Grace."


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: shankmac
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 04:38 AM

NEVER sing Andy M. Stewart's Rambling Rover. I did once and about half way through the second verse I recalled that the third verse was
If your bent with artheritus, and your bowls have got collitus and you've galloping bollockitus and your thinking its time you died.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 04:46 AM

Just for the heck of it, I checked the DT to see which songs it contains that I'd be likely to do at a nursing home or assisted living facility.  Here's what I came up with for "A."  (Boldface means I probably already do it for these folks sometimes.)

  Abdul Abulbul Amir
  Accentuate The Positive
  After The Ball
  Ain't It Great To Be Crazy
  Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do
  Alabama Bound
  All Hail The Power Of Jesus' Name
  All My Life's A Circle
  All My Trials, Lord
  All The Pretty Little Horses
  All Things Bright And Beautiful
  All Through The Night
  Alouette
  Amanda
  Amazing Grace
  America
  Among My Souvenirs
  Anchors Aweigh
  And When I Die
  Angels From The Realms Of Glory
  Angels We Have Heard On High
  The Animal Fair
  Anne Boleyn  (I do it for Halloween programs)
  Annie Laurie
  Any Day Now
  April, Come She Will
  Are You Lonesome Tonight?
  Arkansas Traveler
  As Time Goes By
  The Ash Grove
  Au Clair De La Lune
  Auld Lang Syne
  Aunt Rhody
  Aupres De Ma Blonde
  Aura Lee
  Autumn To May
  Away With Rum


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,maryrrf
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 10:19 AM

I've done a few assisted living facility gigs and quite enjoyed them. The residents were for the most part not in bad shape, mind you. These were all in March so the theme was Irish. I must admit I did weed out "death and aging" songs - figured it was just better that way!


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: BH
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 06:38 PM

Genie: Your lists above are impressive. Not that I want to be in facility---but if I have to let them know you to book you---I'll make a reservation.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 09:03 PM

Bill, come on over and sing with me and the old folks any time! *G*

One thing I forgot to mention is that most senior facilities run at least 6 women to 1 man, and a lot of the "senior top 40" are songs that women usually request.  The men are more likely to request old "cowboy" and country/western songs.

Typical male requests include:
Pack Up Your Troubles
Cool Water
Wabash Cannonball
Yellow Rose Of Texas
Home On The Range
Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Tennessee Waltz
Don't Fence Me In
Sixteen Tons
San Antonio Rose
Silver Haired Daddy
Goldmine In The Sky
Sioux City Sue
anything by Johnny Cash
anything by Hank Williams
various songs from Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Patsy Montana,  etc.

But in assisted and independent living facilities, there are always a lot of residents, male and female, who will request semi-classical and international standards such as:
Merry Widow Waltz
Blue Danube Waltz
Come Back To Sorrento (Torna a Surriento)
Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life
Muss I Denn?
Otchee Tchornya (Dark Eyes)
Cielito Lindo
O Sole Mio
Hava Nagila
La Vie En Rose
Aloha Oe
and various Gilbert and Sullivan songs

not to mention jazz/pop classics such as:
Stormy Weather
Stardust
Heart and Soul
In The Mood
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
My Funny Valentine
Twilight Time
Ebb Tide
Ain't Misbehavin'
A Kiss To Build A Dream On
 
 

and Broadway/movie tunes such as:
Lara's Theme (Somewhere, My Love)
Memory (from Cats)
If I Loved You
You'll Never Walk Alone
Maria
My Favorite Things
The Impossible Dream
Hello, Dolly
Mame
Cabaret
Ol' Man River
Tea For Two
Moon River
Some Enchanted Evening
Over The Rainbow
Que Sera Sera
I Could Have Danced All Night

"Folk" songs that I've found are very popular in senior residences ( at least in the Pacific Northwest) include:
Roll On, Columbia
This Land Is Your Land
Tom Dooley
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Michael, Row The Boat Ashore
Wildwood Flower
Keep On The Sunny Side
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Shenandoah (often requested)
Puff, The Magic Dragon
Goodnight, Irene
Aura Lee
Banana Boat Song
Turkey In The Straw (often requested)
Shady Grove
Tzena, Tzena
On Top Of Old Smoky

These are just some of the songs that seem always to work as part of my playlists for various nursing, A. L., and retirement homes.  Let me stress, though, that if your specialty is Irish jigs, bluegrass, old time swing music, sea chanteys, etc., the folks will probably love to hear some of that --either an occasional whole program of that genre or more frequently as a portion of a more varied program.  Except for folks with advanced Alzheimer's, they do get tired of hearing nothing but the same songs all the time.

Also, I'm sure that the lists will be different for different parts of the US and different countries/regions.

Genie
 

PS, Shankmac, if you're at a place with a lot of disoriented residents who haven't quite come to terms with the reality that they live here now, don't sing "Detroit City."  It's a great, popular sing-along, but when you get to the "I wanna go home" part, you'll have some folks get really upset, as it triggers the request that they make to the staff umpteen times a day.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 12:09 AM

Thanks for the lists, Genie, that's great. For what it's worth, I'm in Toronto. When I get home I'll see if either of my bandmates have ready access to a fax machine.

That reminds me of another tip: if you're making a songbook, you can number the songs or number the pages, but NOT BOTH! I was once at a singalong for seniors where both were numbered, and it created a problem for just about every song.

A wireless lapel mic - would that do a decent job of picking up a guitar worn on a strap, as well as the singing voice?

Oh, and while I'd feel comfortable singing Will the Circle be Unbroken and other death-themed songs (in moderation, naturally), I don't think I'd be comfortable singing children's songs like Old Macdonald. It just wouldn't feel respectful to me to sing them for adults, even if they're happy to hear them - although I know, Genie, that you don't mean to be patronizing. (Maybe this is a carryover from my day job working with people with learning disabilities - sometimes it seems like I'm the only staffperson who calls them men and women instead of boys and girls.)

Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 12:56 AM

Here are some songs that I have used for various audiences from about 50 to 90. I've tried to delete duplicates. They are in order by the instrument I use for them, not very helpful to anyone but me I'm afraid....

Rita

Mockingbird Hill
The Happy Wanderer
Santa Lucia
Beautiful Dreamer
Long, Long Ago
Old Folks at Home
Tenting Tonight
The Little Shoemaker
Quilting Party
Galway Bay
Danny Boy
Aloha Oe
South of the Border
Scarlet Ribbons
Rose of Allendale
Hi Lili Hi Lo
Whispering Hope
Lili Marlene
The Glendy Burke
Listen to the Mockingbird
Golden Slippers
Grandfather's Clock
Down in the Valley
John Peel
Turkey in the Straw
Dear Old Donegal
MacNamara's Band
Au Pres de ma Blonde
Twilight Is Stealing
Camptown Races
Cockles & Mussels
The Mule he is a Funny Sight
Some Folks
I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair
Harvey & Sheila
Hello Mudda, Hello Faddah


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 01:02 AM

Yeah, Marion, I learned that same lesson about song #s and page #s when I put my first book together, too!

My wireless lapel mic (before it went belly up) did pick up my voice and my guitar pretty well.   But wireless mics are tricky; in some rooms they give you terrible feedback.  Occasionally, I'd have so much trouble getting mine adjusted properly in a room that the residents would be pretty disgruntled before I even started.  (That feedback can be really uncomfortable for folks with hearing aids!)<BR>
It's: especially problematic when you tie your wireless mic into their own amp & multiple overhead speakers.  Sometimes, to keep from getting feedback, you have to stand pretty much in one spot in the room--which partly defeats the purpose of a wireless mic.

-------------

Marion, I don't do Old MacDonald, and other children's songs unless there are children present or it's a facility for folks with advanced Alzheimer's.  A lot of folks in Asst. Lvg. communities would be insulted if you did "My Bonnie" and "Clementine," too.  You can easily tell by the reaction of the group whether it's appropriate.  I do songs like Doggie In The Window (as a bark along song), Old MacDonald (with the best sound effects I can muster), etc., because they engage the residents in these Alzheimer's units more than just about any other songs do, as well as getting them to really laugh.  For the most part, they are laughing at/with ME --especially when I do my "attack Chihuahua" imitation at the end of Doggie In The Window.  These songs get the residents, the staff, the family visitors, etc., ALL laughing. And the residents request these songs, too.

I can often get the Alzheimer's folks to sing along more readily than anyone else, because they're often less self-consious.  They may sing along on the choruses of La Bamba and Proud Mary, too, and dance around while I'm singing.  But often their memory impairment is so severe that they can't remember the words to Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Take Me Out To The Ball Game, and other senior citizen favorites.  As Mike pointed out above, there comes a point in advanced age/dementia at which about all that is remembered is what was learned in early childhood.  It is folks at this stage for whom it is most appropriate to do "children's songs" -- the ones from their childhood days (not "The Barney Song."

I'm with you, though, on not patronizing these folks.  I sometimes rub some staffers the wrong way by speaking to the residents the way I would any other adult, instead of cooing to them as to an infant.

Here's a story that illustrates that there may be more going on upstairs than some younger folks may assume.  At one Alzheimer's unit, we regularly did "Old MacDonald," and I would add the very politically incorrect verse:
"Old MacDonald had a wife ... With a nag, nag here, and a nag, nag there ... ."
This verse used to crack them up more than any other.  These folks would not only request Old MacDonald a lot, but some of them would break into the "nagging wife" verse spontaneously if I forgot to include it.  I'm pretty sure they learned the verse from me--i.e., learned it recently--, yet these folks, who would not remember that we had just got through singing "Red River Valley" would remember this new verse from one month to another.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 02:53 PM

Just connecting the threads.

click here


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 12:44 AM

Marion, A couple more points re doing "children's songs" for adults:

¥ Many, if not most, "children's songs" were NOT such when they were introduced. "Doggie In The Window," "Mairzy Doats," "Three Little Fishes," "My Bonnie," "Playmate," "Shortnin' Bread," etc. were popular music for young adults or teenagers when they were new. I'm not sure about "Old MacDonald," but that, too, may have been an adult novelty song a few decades ago.

¥ I believe it was the Mills Brothers who had a swinging medley, in about the 1930s, of "Jesus Loves Me" and other "children's" gospel songs. Then there was Ella Fitzgerald's "A Tisket, A Tasket" that topped the charts in the same era.

¥ I have often participated, as an adult, in sing-alongs at camps and informal settings where simple, silly rounds and other songs were done. I didn't stop doing "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain" when I became an adult.

My rule is simply this: if my audience "gets into" the song, it's not demeaning to them to use it. (Not surprisingly, the folks most insulted by having you do "baby songs" are kids of about age 8 to 12. They're "too grown up" for that stuff.)


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 02:36 AM

Genie, I just remembered this old thread that I started:

Musical "ethics"; bad performance OK?"

Man, that seems like a long time ago.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 11:21 AM

Genie, you list a song called "Georgia". Is that the same as "Georgia on My Mind", which I've found in some oldies books?

Also, you or somebody mentioned a song called "Glory of Love". Is that the one where the chorus goes "I am the man who will fight for your honour, I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of, we'll live forever, knowing forever that we did it all for the glory of love"? I thought that was an 80's song.

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 08 Aug 02 - 02:53 PM

Yes, Marion, Hoagy Carmichael co-wrote the song. I thought the title was just "Georgia," but I'll check. Anyway, this is the song that Ray Charles does so beautifully ("...just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.")

Re "The Glory Of Love," I think you will find the lyrics and chords to that song in a thread that's in today's Filter. If it's not there, just do a Filter search using "Glory of Love." It's a 1920s song that has become a standard. I'm familiar with the 1980s song you mentioned, too. (Wasn't it the theme song for "The Karate Kid II?") I'm not sure if that's the exact title for that song, but there are lots of songs that share titles with other songs.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 11:02 AM

Can anyone offer a top 10 list of Jewish songs for seniors?

Also, Genie mentioned somewhere above "anything by Johnny Cash." I've been thinking of learning Boy Named Sue - do you think it would fit the bill. I'm a little concerned that people might not get the joke if it's sung by a woman, unless they're already familiar with it.

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 12:25 PM

Folks who are Jewish will, no doubt, have a slightly different list (and a bigger one) than mine, but I've been playing and singing regularly at several Jewish homes for about 10 years. Here are a few that I find are real favorites (and that I also know):

Hebrew (Israeli):
Hava Nagila
Hine Ma Tov
Dayenu (Passover Song)
Hatikvah
Havenu Shalom Aleichem
Lo Yisa Goy
Shalom Chaverim
Bashana
Jerusalem of Gold (sung at end of "Schindler's List")  - sung in Hebrew or English
Tzena, Tzena!
Ma'oz Tzur (Rock of Ages (Let Our Song) -- Hanukkah song)

Yiddish
Tumbalalaika  - in Yiddish and English
Dona Dona  - in Yiddish or English
Bei Mir Bistu Shön  - in Yiddish or English
Sha! Stil!  (The Rabbi is going to dance.)
Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen
My Yiddishe Mame  - in English or Yiddish

Ladino
Los Bilbilicos (The Nightingales)
Ocho Kandelikas (Hanukkah song)

Russian
Otchee Tchornya (Dark Eyes)

Spanish*
Besame Mucho
Cielito Lindo

English -- much the same list as in other senior homes, with special preference for songs by Irving Berlin (except "White Christmas" and "Easter Parade"), Al Jolson, and the Gershwins, and songs from musicals, especially "Fiddler On The Roof" and "Hello, Dolly!"

Always
Sunrise, Sunset
If I Were A Rich Man
L'Chaim
Hello, Dolly
Cabaret
Summertime
Anniversary Song (Jolson et al.)
Blue Skies
New York, New York
Alexander's Ragtime Band
They Can't Take That Away From Me
Swanee  (by Irving Caesar and George Gershwin; sung by Jolson)
God Bless America
Edelweiss
Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
Oh, My Papa
My Wild Irish Rose (Don't ask me why.  Probably just a generational thing.)
Lara's Theme ("Somewhere, My Love") from Dr. Zhivago
 
 

One difference I notice between the Jewish homes and a lot of others is that country/western and "cowboy" songs are not as popular in the Jewish homes (though "Red River Valley" and "Home On The Range" are reasonably popular in both).
 

*Many Jewish residents with Ladino roots like to hear familiar Spanish songs, in addition to Ladino songs.  "Besame Mucho" was very popular, with English words, in the US in the 1930s or 1940s, as were "Amapola" (WWII era) and "La Cucaracha."  The song "Spanish Eyes" also gets requested frequently in the Jewish retirement homes where I play.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 12:43 PM

I DO get requests from time to time -- more often than you might expect -- to sing "Boy Named Sue!" I haven't bothered to learn it, tough, for precisely the reason you mentioned. I just don't think the "joke works" when a woman sings the song.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 12:45 PM

I DO get requests from time to time -- more often than you might expect -- to sing "Boy Named Sue!" I haven't bothered to learn it, tough, for precisely the reason you mentioned. I just don't think the "joke works" when a woman sings the song.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 03:16 PM

Thanks for the Jewish list, Genie.

Do you take the same songbook to Jewish facilities as to others? If so, does it have Christian songs, and if so, have you ever found that to be an issue?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 04:51 PM

Marion, I seldom sing religious songs at Jewish homes (except for the few listed above, which are not strongly "theologically loaded").  Popular Passover or Hanukkah or Purim songs are OK, and songs about freedom, peace and brotherhood, but not being Jewish, I feel it would show a lot of chutzpah for me to sing the "more sacred" songs.

Most of my songbooks don't have sectarian songs in them (though a few songs--like America The Beautiful--refer to "God").  Unless the residents request a hymn (e.g., Amazing Grace), the only "religious" songs from the Christian tradition that I sing in Jewish homes tend to be the old spirituals like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "Michael, Row The Boat Ashore."  Many of these songs are based on scriptures shared by Judaism and Christianity (e.g., "Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho") and many have the quest for freedom from bondage/persecution as a theme (e.g.,  "Go Down, Moses,"  "Wade In The Water," etc.).  I use these around Passover especially -- as well as the Carter Family's "Little Moses."

I really suggest asking the facility's activity director for guidelines.  Some facilities have mainly Eshkanazi (sp?) Jews from Russia and northern Europe, some have a lot of Sephardic Jews from Spain, Yugoslavia, etc., some have about half and half, etc.  (One place in Seattle has warned me not to sing Yiddish songs unless I do an equal number of Ladino songs, to keep peace among the residents, who are split about 50/50.)  Some facilities are much more open to hearing music from non-Jewish traditions, including Christmas songs.  (One place in California the residents requested "Silent Night" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.  At another facility in Seattle you'll get a lot of flack if you sing "Jingle Bell-- which has nothing to do with Christmas at all.)  A lot depends on the residents.  A lot also depends on whether the staff takes the attitude of avoiding any and all complaints.  (If you have one resident out of 300 who gets upset at "Jingle Bells," do you ban the song?)

Kinda funny story in this regard:
I was doing a concert at Seacrest Village in Encinitas, CA (a Jewish retirement community), and the theme was a Labor Day program, so I had included "Sixteen Tons" in my playlist.  It wasn't until I got into the song that I noticed the "Christian" reference --"...St. Peter, don't ya call me, 'cause I can't go... ."  Suddenly feeling terribly embarrassed and trapped, I blurted out "...Moses, don't you call me ... ," and finished the song with that substitution.  (I actually think I sang it "...St. Peter..." the first time and then made the ridiculous substitution -- like nobody was going to notice.  I even had the audience singing along on the chorus.
Nobody seemed offended--but I doubt that they would have been even if I'd sung the song straight -- which is what I should've done, anyway.  It's an American folk song about miners--not a religious song!


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 07:19 PM

Thanks for the answers.

I guess if you're getting requests for Boy Named Sue, people must want to hear a woman singing it... maybe I'll try learning it and imitating Johnny Cash's phrasing and spoken asides - sort of an impersonation act. Might be fun.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 03:06 PM

A couple of questions:

1. What are good songs for a Halloween party at a stroke survivors' day program?

2. In my research into homes, day programs, and community centres that serve seniors, I've been surprised by the high percentage which are oriented to specific ethnic groups. Most common in Toronto is Jewish, then Chinese, then maybe Italian, but there are dozens of others. I'm already learning some Jewish songs - and I can imagine trying to develop some Chinese repertoire as well, just because there are so many Chinese venues. But I'm not sure how (or if) I should be approaching places titled Macedonian, Afghan, or Philippino... (a few I've gotten addresses for so far).

I don't think I can learn a respectable repertoire in each of these languages. Do you think there would be interest in a standard English program?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 01:35 AM

Marion,

1. For the Halloween session: Do you know "The Ghost of Anne Boleyn?" Words are in the DT as ANNE BOLEYN, if you know the tune.

Another is "Mrs. Revoon." Don't think that's in the DT but it may be. My spouse, Bill D, sings it. Perfect for Halloween.

Maybe "The Cat Came Back," or "The Body in the Bag," any good cat song.

How about "The Long Black Veil"? Actually you need some upbeat ghost songs but offhand I can't think of any.... Oh, yes, how about "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey?" That's somewhat well known because the Kingston Trio did it, and it's upbeat and funny.

2. Another category of songs that go over extremely well with Jewish audiences, is anything by Allan Sherman, who wrote parodies of folk songs with a Jewish twist. They are hilarious.

My own favorite, which goes over extremely well, is "Harvey and Sheila," to the tune of "Hava Nagila." Only trouble is, it takes a while to learn. I've been singing it since I was lucky enough to hear it 20 years ago... Went right out and found the record.

Allen Sherman's biggest hit was "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda," this is popular with audiences of all types. Well, for that matter, so is "Harvey & Sheila." The guy was a genius IMHO.

3. Regarding the ethnic retirement homes, would it help just to phone or visit the AD and see what they think? Just a suggestion....

Rita


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Dirty Old Git
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 04:50 AM

Everytime I try to do a gig in the nursing home they sedate me and lock me in my room. Last time I struggled and three big nurses sat on me - I enjoyed that - perhaps I'll try it again.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Dirty Old Git
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 04:51 AM


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Dirty Old Git
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 04:58 AM

Sorry about the previous one - I had a premature ejaculation.

I just wondered if there are any ladies out there who would like to play Doctors and Nurses type gigs with me - that is when they let me have female visitors again - big Brenda's allegations were all a tissue of lies.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 03:31 PM

Marion--

My, my, we have to keep an eye on you! Maybe you can learn the Jewish songs. but my money says you'll never get a Chinese set together! As to the Macedonian tunes, I have a very nice book of traditional Macedonian ballads, transliterated from the Cyrillic, with translations of the verses as well--you'll have to learn to play in 7, 9, and 15 though, and ditch the guitar and fiddle for a tambura, or(if you want to be modern) a squeezebox--

But seriously, it is very hard work indeed to learn a new repertoire, in a whole new language(and a whole new genre)--It isn't worth the trouble to do it for one gig--especially since the real ethnic singers will always know a lot more material, and likely know it better--stick to the music that you love the most, and find places to play it--then, like Genie, you can pick up additional material, over time!

PS Seems to me that Toronto used to have a great ethnic music festival--does it still? That would be the time to hear Macedonian, Chinese and other music, and perhaps find someone who would be willing to teach you some of the most popular tunes--


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 04:25 PM

LOL, Dirty Ol' Git!

A few songs that pertain to aging or death but which I find are often requested by residents of assisted living, retirement, and nursing homes, are:

¥ The Memory Song (See thread in the forum. I've introduced this to quite a few seniors -- especially the ones in their 70s and 80s who are beginning to notice their memory is not what it used to be--, and they love it and request it thereafter.) ¥ September Song (very popular with seniors)
¥ Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms
¥ I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
¥ Get Up And Go (same groups that like "The Memory Song")
¥ Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
¥ When You And I Were Young, Maggie
¥ On Top Of Old Smokey (The reference to "the grave will decay you..." doesn't bother the many folks who like the song.)
¥ I'll Fly Away

Rita, I think it's great to have a song or two from "the old country" to do for folks who came here from another culture. If you do instrumentals, that's a great help, since you can playt the melodies and don't have to learn to sing in Chinese or whatever. Singing a few is also nice, but generally, I think folks would rather hear someone from another country sing a song well in English than hear them butcher the pronunciation on a dozen songs in their native language.
Foreign languages are a special area of interest to me. I have a pretty good ear for singing in a lot of languages if I can both see and hear the words. But I seldom try to sing in another language I don't know just from seeing words printed with a "pronunciation guide."
Also, if, say, half the group has something like Chinese or Yiddish as their first language and the other half does not know that language, you can lose a lot of the latter audience members if you do too many in the "old tongue."
But do talk to the AD about it.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 05:14 PM

Genie,

Do you do half Sephardic and half Yiddish? I'd sure like to know more about the Sephardic stuff!


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 07:01 PM

Ted, I know only 2 Ladino songs by heart, but I have sheet music to a couple of others. I need to learn more. (I also know a few songs in Spanish that are popular with Sephardic Jewish seniors, and I can throw one or two of them in PRN, but they'd really like to hear the "old" songs in Ladino.)

Look for "Ladino" in the forum. There's at least one thread that has links to some websites for Ladino songs.


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 04:26 PM

Ted, I think you'll find that you're further ahead betting on what I can do than what I can't. I took a year of Chinese in college, so I don't find it that intimidating a prospect (I even remember one song by heart from that class). Also, I'm not considering trying to learn vast numbers of songs in any foreign language, just maybe 4 or 5 to mix into a regular set. I agree with you about the inadvisability of studying Macedonian music when there is such a small market for it - but a little Hebrew, a little Chinese, a little Italian might open several doors.

I also agree with you that the real ethnic singers will always be able to do more and better in foreign languages. However, in university I studied three languages that are very seldom learned by Canadian Anglos (Arabic and Turkish as well as Mandarin) and one thing I noticed is that when I used these languages people were very surprised and delighted to hear an Anglo saying anything at all in them, no matter how basic. So maybe that will work in my favour a little.

Rita, I agree with you that I wouldn't try to learn a foreign language song just from the transliteration, so I'm taking advantage of Toronto's great library system with its CD collection. And doing some of the songs as instrumentals is another good idea that I hadn't thought of.

Cheers, Marion

Ah, I can't help asking: what did you mean, Ted, by "you'll have to learn to play in 7, 9, and 15 though"? Is that some kind of time signature?


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 04:54 PM

You didn't study Chinese music for a year though, and there is more to performing music than simply learning the words--Maybe you know one song, but can you play it? And you you sing it in the the proper voice?

I do agree that nothing melts the ice more better than a few words in the old native language, but you have to have a few well selected, polished, and professional sets of music to back it up--best to work up the music that you know best, and save the rest for later--


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 05:06 PM

Can I sing and play it like a native? No. Can I sing and play it in such way that people will enjoy it? I think so.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 22 Sep 02 - 03:00 PM

Ted, upon rereading I find that I'm basically in agreement with you - it is my plan to concentrate totally on developing and promoting a good English show first. Possibly sometime in the future I'll look into more niches within the seniors' market, but I'm not hurried or committed to learning any Chinese songs. I think the way you expressed it just rubbed me the wrong way.

But seriously, what is playing in 7, 9, and 15?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Playing nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 22 Sep 02 - 09:49 PM

Marion, I think the idea of singing in a language that you've studied is great, especially if some of the residents in the places you play have that as their native language.
I sing quite a few songs in German, Italian, Yiddish, Spanish, and French because those are all languages that I've either studied or languages thatI've been exposed to a lot and are related to the ones I have studied.
I also sing a lot in Hebrew, because I play at Jewish homes a lot, and the residents and staff sing with me, so I get to hear the language, too.
I learned "Ja, Vi Elsker Detta Landet" because I had a regular gig at The Norse Home in Seattle. (I studied a Norwegian language book a bit and had some of the residents sing the song with me so I could hear how it sounds.)

If there are residents whose first language is something other than English, they will usually be delighted to have you try to sing in that language, even if you don't do it very well. (They can be very helpful in correcting your pronunciation, too. *G*) But, as has been said, one or two of these per visit is plenty.

Genie


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