The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #158019   Message #3733846
Posted By: Joe Offer
28-Aug-15 - 08:45 PM
Thread Name: sing to recorded music- nursing home
Subject: RE: sing to recorded music- nursing home
A church caroling group I lead has had a great time singing for the Sisters of Mercy at the local convent's infirmary for Christmas and Fourth of July for a number of years. I've been hoping to do a singaround with the nuns, but it didn't happen until this afternoon. We had an absolutely delightful time. Most of these sisters were born in Ireland, and most are over 80. A couple have dementia, but both have a great memory for songs.

One of my favorite sisters is Sister M... M... M... (Sister 3M). When I met her several years ago, she was absolutely brilliant - and outrageously funny. Then dementia set in, and she can't remember a lot of things now and doesn't know my name any more. But she still knows songs, and sings them with gusto - and I think she figures the dementia gives her permission to be even more outrageous. So, she and I opened the afternoon singing "Three Lovely Lasses from Bannion."

I took along ten copies each of Rise Up Singing and the new Rise Again Songbook, mostly to show them off since I am an associate editor of Rise Again. The sisters were very interested in the process of developing the book over the Internet. They did request a few songs from the books, mostly songs from musicals and a few hymns. The songs from musicals worked especially well. We'd sing the song in the book, and then we'd remember the story of the play and sing as many of the other songs from the play as we could remember.

We spent a lot of time trying to remember songs together, and that was great fun. I did not let them rely on songbooks very much, but the books were helpful to have handy.

When I sing at nursing homes, I try to make the performance into a casual conversation that is punctuated by songs and storytelling, and it seems to work. It worked especially well today with those wonderful Irish nuns. At the end, I told them how I got to know my wife through the Sacramento Song Circle and how I became best friends with her husband Jim and then spent a lot of time singing and talking with him as he was dying of colon cancer. Then I sang "I'll Fly Away," which I sang at his funeral. And then I explained how Jim and I loved to sing songs that annoyed the women, particularly "Wild Rover." So we closed with "Wild Rover," which the Irish nuns knew by heart and sang lustily.

And then they invited me to stay for tea, so we chatted and sang and drank tea for another hour.

What a great afternoon!