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best christmas songs for retirement home

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dulcimer42 24 Nov 15 - 04:58 PM
Richard Bridge 24 Nov 15 - 05:48 PM
Joe Offer 24 Nov 15 - 06:23 PM
OldNicKilby 25 Nov 15 - 06:05 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Nov 15 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Nov 15 - 05:02 PM
Dave the Gnome 25 Nov 15 - 05:15 PM
GUEST, 26 Nov 15 - 02:46 AM
Kampervan 26 Nov 15 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Nov 15 - 10:25 AM
GUEST, topsie 26 Nov 15 - 01:48 PM
Kampervan 26 Nov 15 - 03:30 PM
GUEST, topsie 26 Nov 15 - 04:11 PM
Joe Offer 26 Nov 15 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Nov 15 - 10:07 AM
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Subject: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: dulcimer42
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 04:58 PM

Thought there was surely a thread for this but can't find it. I'll be playing for about an hour this weekend at a Nursing Home - Christmas music.   What songs to you suggest. I have all the standard "Carols."   What other songs from maybe the 40s, 50s, 60s would be good?


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 05:48 PM

Yes there was indeed such a thread, with all the usual bad-taste suggestions like "Nearer my God to thee". Pretty well any Perry Como or Jim Reeves is going to sell, innit?


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 06:23 PM

For most of the last ten years, I have directed a caroling group from our Catholic parish here in Northern California. We hit 8-12 nursing homes, and sing a mix of secular and traditional religious carols. I tell stories about the songs in between, sometimes mixing in stories about family traditions or Christmas movies (e.g., White Christmas and Holiday Inn, Christmas on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas Carol, Polar Express, Charlie Brown Christmas) and favorite performers like Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Julie Andrews, and Mel Torme.
Here's our usual song list:
    Deck the halls
    Away in a Manger
    I'll Be Home for Christmas (though some of our singers think this too sad for nursing homes)
    Jingle Bells
    Frosty the Snowman
    Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
    The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)
    God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
    O Come All Ye Faithful / Adeste Fideles
    Hark, the Herald Angels Sing (tied with Hark, Hark, the dogs to bark)
    Angels We Have Heard on High
    Joy to the World
    Up on the Housetop
    I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
    Silver Bells
    Little Drummer Boy
    Silent Night
    We Wish Me a Merry Christmas
    Feliz Navidad

If there's time like to add "Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow."

If it might be helpful, I can email you a lyrics sheet and background notes. Just let me know at joe@mudcat.org

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: OldNicKilby
Date: 25 Nov 15 - 06:05 AM

How about Stan Accringtons "Three Wise Women " ?This always goes down very well


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Nov 15 - 05:00 PM

Why don't you print up some lists of what you can do and let the people tell you what they would like to hear?

Here's something i've been wondering about. Those commercial songs, such as White Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Silver Bells - why do people sing them so slowly and solemnly? The way they are heard on the radio, you could sing them at a funeral, no questions asked.

Do them again, and smile when you sing them. Pep them up a little. They're supposed to be happy. I think it will tickle the residents to hear something old done in a new way.


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Nov 15 - 05:02 PM

Here's something I learned leading songs in church. If you want ordinary Americans to sing along, lower the key.


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Nov 15 - 05:15 PM

God rest ye geriatric men?


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: GUEST,
Date: 26 Nov 15 - 02:46 AM

"All I want for Christmas is some new false teeth"


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: Kampervan
Date: 26 Nov 15 - 03:01 AM

I don't know how old is the average resident of a retirement home, but I'm 66 and I grew up on rock and roll, the blues and the Stones and I acquired a liking for folk in my late teens.

At what age do I get to like the sort of stuff that is performed for the benefit of these residents? Is that when I'll take to wearing cavalry twill trousers and a sports jacket?


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Nov 15 - 10:25 AM

Christmas music ranges in age from Renaissance to written-yesterday.
Even medieval for a few songs.

It's cheerful, it's mournful, it's haunting, it's slick.

It's major, it's minor, it's modal.

What do you mean by "the sort of stuff that is performed for the benefit of these residents"?


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 26 Nov 15 - 01:48 PM

I assume Kampervan means the songs on Joe Offer's list.
The residents will mostly have been born between the World Wars, but their musical tastes are likely to have developed any time after the Second World War until quite recently.


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: Kampervan
Date: 26 Nov 15 - 03:30 PM

Oh, I probably didn't give enough thought to what I actually wrote in that post.

It's just that I figure that I am not so many years away from the age of many of the people in those homes and yet the songs listed are very similar to the those that I used to sing when I was part of the Methodist youth choir that entertained people in retirement homes back in the 1960's.

I just wondered whether or not these really are the songs that the current residents want to hear or if they're just the ones that we assume they want? Perhaps they are.


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 26 Nov 15 - 04:11 PM

I am, I suppose, approaching the age when I might find myself in a retirement home, and I find most of the songs on that list really depressing (sorry, Joe). But it's a good reason to keep myself as fit and healthy as I can, to put off the awful day as long as possible.


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 15 - 06:05 PM

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.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: best christmas songs for retirement home
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Nov 15 - 10:07 AM

You're right, Joe. You are making music, but you are also fighting loneliness and lack of stimulation.


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