The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #158639 Message #3753803
Posted By: Joe Offer
26-Nov-15 - 06:05 PM
Thread Name: best christmas songs for retirement home
Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
Good question, Topsie. I'm not so sure that choice of songs is all that important. These are good songs, and we do them well. The most important thing is that the performance much be a human interaction, not a show. The back-and-forth exchange is what's most important. I find what works best is when the audience feels we've come to play together with them, not perform for them. All in all, our performances seem to be accepted quite well - but I think it's because we make sure we have fun with the audience.
The "traditional" 19th-century carols go over best, and people sing along quite nicely. I've added songs from the 1940s and 1950s like "White Christmas" and "Silver Bells," and "Chestnuts Roasting," and those have not gone over as well as I had hoped. They like the Gene Autry stuff like "Frosty" and "Rudolph," however.
I have tried singing songs of the Great American Songbook when I'm doing non-seasonal performances, and they haven't gone over as well as I thought they would. I've also done nursing home performances with a folk group, and that has been more popular. Carter Family songs and Guy Clark's "Home Grown Tomatoes" are favorites. But my church carolers and our (excellent) pianist don't seem to know those folkie songs.
I've found that what works best is to punctuate the songs with a lot of conversation, because people in nursing homes are often starved for adult conversation. So, a reminisce about things and ask about how life was when people in the audience were growing up, and they really perk up. A little flirting doesn't hurt, either.
And I think the big thing is never to talk down to an audience.