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Getting nursing home gigs

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GUEST,Marion 24 Jul 02 - 01:09 PM
wilco 24 Jul 02 - 01:44 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 24 Jul 02 - 02:35 PM
Sorcha 24 Jul 02 - 02:40 PM
Mooh 24 Jul 02 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Les B. 24 Jul 02 - 03:50 PM
ollaimh 24 Jul 02 - 04:07 PM
Genie 24 Jul 02 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,Hille 24 Jul 02 - 06:50 PM
Genie 24 Jul 02 - 07:22 PM
Dave Bryant 25 Jul 02 - 07:14 AM
Pied Piper 25 Jul 02 - 07:42 AM
open mike 26 Jul 02 - 12:53 AM
Genie 26 Jul 02 - 02:37 AM
GUEST,Les B. 26 Jul 02 - 06:41 PM
Mooh 26 Jul 02 - 08:01 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Jul 02 - 09:05 PM
Melani 27 Jul 02 - 12:45 AM
musicmick 27 Jul 02 - 01:18 AM
Marion 27 Jul 02 - 01:56 AM
Genie 27 Jul 02 - 02:12 AM
M.Ted 27 Jul 02 - 04:17 PM
Marion 27 Jul 02 - 10:29 PM
Genie 28 Jul 02 - 12:47 AM
GUEST,Wa Ban Zhou 28 Jul 02 - 01:15 AM
musicmick 28 Jul 02 - 01:42 AM
Genie 28 Jul 02 - 02:44 AM
musicmick 28 Jul 02 - 03:50 AM
Genie 28 Jul 02 - 04:34 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 28 Jul 02 - 09:00 AM
pavane 28 Jul 02 - 01:05 PM
musicmick 28 Jul 02 - 06:50 PM
Ferrara 28 Jul 02 - 07:15 PM
Genie 28 Jul 02 - 10:04 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 28 Jul 02 - 11:13 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 29 Jul 02 - 01:06 AM
musicmick 29 Jul 02 - 01:57 AM
Genie 29 Jul 02 - 02:48 AM
Marion 29 Jul 02 - 03:25 AM
Genie 29 Jul 02 - 03:39 AM
Marion 29 Jul 02 - 03:40 AM
Genie 29 Jul 02 - 04:21 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 29 Jul 02 - 07:30 AM
M.Ted 29 Jul 02 - 03:18 PM
Genie 29 Jul 02 - 08:29 PM
musicmick 29 Jul 02 - 11:14 PM
Genie 30 Jul 02 - 01:14 AM
Ferrara 30 Jul 02 - 01:55 AM
Ferrara 30 Jul 02 - 02:10 AM
Marion 30 Jul 02 - 02:51 AM
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Subject: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 01:09 PM

Hello all. I've recently teamed up with a couple of people to work up a repertoire that would be good for nursing homes. We have a few voices, fiddle, guitar, and piano, and we're doing some folk and country, some "golden oldies" (The Band Played On, Five Foot Two, Bicycle Built for Two etc.), and some showtunes.

I'm looking for advice on how to find work. Do you need the same kind of "press kit" materials that you would need for other gigs? Do you just write to every nursing home in the city, or do they look for acts through agents or the unions or elsewhere? Do you just say "This is our kind of show, hire us whenever," or do you tend to say "we'd like to come do a Christmas show (or St. Patrick's, or Mother's Day, or whatever's coming up)"?

I'd also like hear opinions on whether or not volunteering (as musicians) is likely to turn into paid gigs. It seems like it might be a good way to introduce ourselves and show that we've got an appropriate repertoire, but at the same time, I've often heard that it's difficult to increase your price after playing for little or for free. I'm thinking maybe we could volunteer individually to get known by the activities staff, but only play together for paid concerts. Sound like a good marketing plan?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: wilco
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 01:44 PM

Gigs in nursing homes, group homes, adult day care programs, and church programs are easy to get. just call and ask. Mail the activities co-ordinator your lists of songs. I always ask if there is anything special that the program should have ( religious, holidays, seasonal, etc). Sometimes, I get an honorarium for the group from some larger organizations. The schools systems, public and private) also like to get in historical programs that can tie-into their cirriculum.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 02:35 PM

I've probably played several hundred times at nursing homes over a period of close to forty years. I've never been paid or received an honorarium. From my experience, most nursing homes don't have a budget for that, except maybe on a special occasion. Never having had to ask for pay though, I'm not really sure. If you can afford to play for nothing, it's the highest paying job I know.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Sorcha
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 02:40 PM

We don't get paid for residential homes, but it's fun and the residents love it. Good practice too. If you can keep the Alzheimers happy you can play anywhere!


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Mooh
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 03:39 PM

I rarely gig for free, but nursing homes are the exception. In my little corner of the world there would be no live entertainment in such homes if it had to be paid, so I do what I feel is the right thing to do. I currently team up with a fiddler and play our usual old-time, celtic, swing and other tunes and supplement the lot with various tunes from fake books. We always have an appreciative and attentive audience, which is payment enough. (Sometimes I even feel a little selfish because I really WANT to play for these folks.)

I hope if someday I have to live in a nursing home that someone will play for me.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 03:50 PM

From here in the American west, Jerry's perspective is spot on. I've played with various groups in health care homes for 20 years and never been paid (except with smiles). And the activities directors are always glad to have you call. In fact sometimes they call you.

Your idea of putting together a set list of golden oldies is good - we try to do as many from their prime time of life as we can remember.

Make sure everyone in your group understands this. One time a few of us got a loose acoustic group together but hadn't played with one of the guys, although we knew by reputation he was a guitarist.

We all took turns doing songs; Red Wing, Springtime in the Rockies, Golden Slippers, etc. When his turn came, the new guy absolutely glazed over the eyes of the little old lady in the front row wheelchair by vocally (and physically) leaping into some wild rock & roll song about "I wanna do yuh mama.." Even the rest of the band was shocked. He hadn't a clue about how inappropriate it was. After that we discussed a little more carefully what the next tune was going to be !


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: ollaimh
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 04:07 PM

i've played a few dozen nursing home gigs. usually i play harp and sing old irish and scottish songs with a few maritimes ones as well. it goes over great. many more of the patrons know the lyrics than at a normal celtic gig and although you see some veryill people, many are both gratefull and enthusiastic.

it's more women than men--i guess the statistics are right that women live longer.

the pay is also good and they don't want you at prime hours. tuesday or wednesday afternoon is when i usually play and i'm not likely to make much money then anywhere else. i do usually take one other instrument and alternate it to add a little spice, like mandolin, cittern, bouzouki, or guitar. and occasionally fiddle.

i enjoy the gigs. i got them by being seen busking but i've never solocited a nursing home gig, but i suspect if you just phone up and perhaps send a tape it shouldn't be too hard.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 04:34 PM

Several of us who do music for senior facilties (not all of which are nursing homes) discussed this issue in this thread.

For now, just let me say that the vast majority of senior residential facilities do have a budget for hiring entertainers and music therapists (licensed or not). Many even pay some of the pet therapy and art therapy folks. The best deal is probably to send a flyer to all the facilities in your area. The Yellow Pages is a good place to start.

Personally, I feel if you are going to do an occasional gig, at your own convenience, and not spend a lot of time developing a repertoire geared toward this population, it's fine to do it as a charitable thing. I don't get paid for singing in my church choir or doing solos there, either. But please don't take the view that musicians who devote a lot of time and work --and, yes, money--to providing the kind of music that senior facilities seek should provide their services for nothing, when the facility pays for just about every other kind of service they use.

Remember that not all senior facilities are nonprofits, and some nonprofit facilities have bigger per capita budgets than some for-profit facilities have. The nursing-convalescent-retirement home industry is a huge and growing one, and most of it is run as a business.

I've been told by folks in that industry that it's hard to switch from being a volunteer to being a paid musician, and my own experience has backed up that view. I do use a sliding scale, and for some places I play for very little. But it seems to be the ones who pay me the least who value my services the least (are most likely to cancel me at the last minute or drag their feet the most on payment or play hard to get when it comes to booking).

One bit of advice I'd add re playlists: old people get younger every year. I mean that many of today's geriatric residents were young adults in the 1930s and 1940s. The really old ones and those with advanced Alzheimer's do like Bicycle Built for Two and My Wild Irish Rose, but the folks in their 80s are more likely to want "It Had to Be You," "Edelweiss," songs from the WWII era, etc. I've been doing this kind of thing since the early 1980s, and I keep having to add more and more popular music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, due to residents' requests.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Hille
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 06:50 PM

Here on the South Coast Uk it's nursing home city - and the nursing homes here do have budgets for entertainments. (Actually, I've just come home from a musical recreation of the 'Golden Years of Radio' from pre-War to early '50s that's played in over 800 nursing and residential homes in the South East)

You could try contacting through the Social Services in your area - good nursing should be registered and also voluntary groups (we have a huge voluntary organisation here that organises home visits, respite care, etc, etc also day centres) Local community centres here at least have a big support network for older members of our communities.

From what I've seen this evening (not that I'm expert now!) outreach and sustainable programmes of interactive entertainment are definitely in demand - we have a few homes here that are introducing memories rooms with items familiar from people's youth - really important for stimulation and especially where long term has won out over short term memory.

The whole event this evening now was developed into a series of repertoire for different occasions and is playing for a week at the D Day Museum in Portsmouth and also can educationally tailored for GCSE and A level DRama and Theatrical Studies.

So - go for it!!


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 07:22 PM

Marion, one thing I didn't mention re your being paid for gigs at nursing and retirement homes is that most facilities have restricted budgets. Here in the NW, $50 is fairly typical pay for a 1-hour program in the more upscale facilities, though they sometimes will pay $60 to $75. They do hire bands for New Year's Eve and other special occasions, and they pay more, but they don't hire you as often, and even then, I'd be surprised if they pay much more than $150 to $250 for the whole band. That may be why a lot of groups (Old Time Fiddlers and the Boeing Chorus) perform as volunteers--few facilities can pay a group of 4 or more enough for it to make sense for them to do it for $.

One thing you can always do is, when you first contact the activity director of a facility, just ask if they hire people to do music. Some will say they're volunteer only, but a lot will say, yes, they do hire. Unless they have all their time slots taken by regulars, they'll probably try you out. Some will ask for an audition. In those cases, I've learned to give them a tape instead. There's too much chance that the person who is in charge when you audition won't be there a month or two later, and you'll be back to square one.

Good luck with it!

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 07:14 AM

I think that gigs in Old Folks Homes might be a bit worrying for many of us older 'Catters - what if they won't let us out at the end of the gig !

I can imagine a big nursing assistant saying "Come along Mr Bryant, it's time for your cocoa and bed - what you don't want to go - I'll call the doctor and he'll give you a shot to make you feel better !"

I'm also a bit aprehensive about what WE might have to endure when we're on the other end of these gigs. Can you imagine having to put up with the sort of performer who one tries to leave off the floor-singer's list performing Eminem........


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Pied Piper
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 07:42 AM

I've played pipes to old folks (or should it be the chronologically challenged) quite a few times in the NW UK and it usually goes down well. Lots of men in the north were conscripted into Scottish regiments in W.W.II. You have to be a bit careful about song lyrics though. I once played with a band at a stroke club and we did a version of "Yesterday"(suddenly I'm not half the man I used too be). All the best PP.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: open mike
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 12:53 AM

i did play for an alzheimer's facility once where there was a gate with a number key pad lock in order to get out you had to perform simple math problems according to a formula posted by the gate--i got the wrong answer and needed help getting out! ouch! nothing like a captive audience... i just got 2 messages today about 2 rest homes who were inquiring about my "services" to entertain the residents...it will be cool in there on those hot august days when i have scheduled performances....usually mornings the folks are more alert.....that seems to be the best time. that and holidays as even if you don't get money, there might be some goodies-- cake, etc....to celebrate with!! the levels of care are different from different faciclties.. some are independant living places where the people are more "with it" some times you can inspire a reaction from the "clients" or residents at assisted living facility, but get used to looking out at a sea of nodding heads and closed eyes if you are performiong for an audience in a "nursing" home, as some have very short attention spans, and many may fall asleep in their wheel chairs. be prepared to stay optimistic and "up"! sometimes a tapping toe may bethe most energetic respomseaperson can give--be careful if they try to get up and do a jig- it may be dangerous to their health!!


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 02:37 AM

Actually, PP, it's "persons of high chronological achievement." *G*

I've met activity directors who were overly vigilant about song lyrics that referred to death, suffering, etc. For the most part, this is silly -- no one is more aware of and, generally, more accepting of their own mortality than folks who live with it daily. Some of the most pointed humor about death and physical/mental decline comes from the seniors themselves (cf. "Get Up And Go."). Still, I don't think songs like "The Cruel Mother," "Edward," and Tom Lehrer's "Irish Ballad" would go over well at most nursing homes and retirement facilities!

Open Mike, re it being "cool in gthere on those hot august days...," don't count on it! One of the occupational hazards of playing in nursing homes is hot flashes--even if you're neither female nor menopausal! The frail elderly do tend to get cold when younger folks think it's too warm. Moreover, a lot of staff members have no common sense about dealing with this. If one person--dressed in shirt sleeves in December-- complains, they'll close windows, turn off fans, and turn up the heat, sometimes till it's 78 to 80 degrees in the room. ( I lost a client once because a kitchen staffer decided to verbally arm-wrestle with me when I tried to get the activity director [who had hired me and was in charge of the program] to helpe me cool off an 80 degree dining room before a program started. [The room had been closed off, with all the lights on, while the rest of the building was much cooler.] She was so convinced that the residents WOULD complain if the room was "cold" that she turned my attempts to modulate the temperature a bit into a major battle--which left the AD mad at me, even though she agreed that 74 or 75 would have been a more reasonable temperature.
If you can perform with normal energy when it's really hot and humid, you'll do fine in nursing homes. I can't. So I've started carrying a portable fan with me year round.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 06:41 PM

I've always been a bit leary about doing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" with its lines like...

"..When I saw that hearse come rollin'
for to carry my mother away

Especially since, as noted above, the majority of people in old folks homes are women!

I've never had an activities director complain about it though ?!?


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Mooh
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 08:01 PM

In my part of the world homes are underfunded whether they be public or private, unless they're wealthy private homes, but there's few of those. The only payment at the one I play semi-regularly is sincere thanks and an invitation to their annual volunteer appreciation dinner (which is actually paid for by the County, out of a different pot of money than the home itself, I'm told). I've been led to believe that things will loosen up soon, so that there will be some limited payment. I really like these gigs, so string and gas money would help.

I've been thinking about a corporate or private sponsor to fund continueing musical entertainment. Any comments?

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 09:05 PM

I think that it's an excellent idea, Mooh! Especially these days when corporations are seen as crooked, dishonest, greedy, money-grubbing *&#@**%. You'd have to make sure that they paid more than it is worth though. They're not used to paying true value. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Melani
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 12:45 AM

The youth group of my church used to play nursing homes, doing the main popular folk stuff of the '60's, including a guy who did a lot of Hoyt Axton stuff. It's how I learned to play guitar. The only problem was that we were a church group and played on Sunday afternoons, so they often thought we were going to do a worship service. Instead they got Jim doing "Greenback Dollar."


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: musicmick
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 01:18 AM

Nursing homes DO have a budget for entertainment. They all do, no matter what they tell you. I have been performing at these facilities for decades and I am paid for my work, as are every other service provider that the nursing home uses. They pay their electricians, their plumbers, their therapists, their nursing staffs and their utilities. My service is no less valuable or worthy. I suggest that your service should be seen as having real value and that you stop selling yourselves and your performances short. If you do music for pleasure, do as you will but if you have aspirations of singing for money, you must not give away the product that you are trying to sell. It's just bad business. I am not concerned that your playing for free costs me jobs or lowers my fees. I get enough work at the fees that are truely standard in the industry (Generally, in the $85 to $150 range, more for holidays). Obviously, the longer you stay in the field the better known you become and the fees reflect reputation. As Mooh said, we are covering the hows and wheres of nursing home jobs in a seperate thread, but I wanted to make one thing very, very clear. THEY HAVE THE BUDGET. THEY HAVE THE MONEY. OTHER PERFORMERS ARE GETTING PAID. LOTS OF OTHER PERFORMERS. (Names on request)


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 01:56 AM

Thanks for your input all, I'm reading this carefully. I will return with more time and more questions soon.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 02:12 AM

Mooh, I, too, have wondered if there are grants to be had for providing music to schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, and how to go about getting them. Anyone have any info on this?

Musicmic, HEAR, HEAR!!


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 04:17 PM

Program grants are available, but you have to keep in mind that you have create a program that is important to the grantor--it is their money. after all--


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 10:29 PM

Some questions:

1. What kind of senior facilities are there besides nursing homes that might hire bands? Are hospitals, retirement communities, or church programs likely possibilities?

2. When you send a promo package around to activity directors to introduce yourself, what exactly do you send? Are pictures and CDs necessary?

3. I assume that senior facilities would usually have a PA system, right? Would it be appropriate to have differential rates according to whether or not they provide the sound?

4. Musicmic said: "If you do music for pleasure, do as you will but if you have aspirations of singing for money, you must not give away the product that you are trying to sell. It's just bad business." What do you think of my idea of playing for free as individuals but asking for money to play as a band? Good business?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 12:47 AM

MTed, (...but you have to keep in mind that you have create a program that is important to the grantor--it is their money. after all...)  Duh...
(You can say the same for anything you're selling--it has to meet the buyer's need/wants -- even if you have to make them aware that they need/want it.)

Question is, how/where can you find out about such potential grants?

Marion,
Among the "senior" places that hire me to do music are:
¥  (drop in) senior centers ( folks go there to socialize, not to get help with ADLs)
¥  adult day care centers (for folks who need supervision during the day for mental or physical reasons or both)
¥  group homes (for behavior disordered, drug rehab, developmentally challenged, geriatric, etc. people)
¥  geropsychicatric units within hospitals
¥  convalescent/rehabilitation facilites (with both long-termp patients-e.g., frail elderly and MS/CP patients-- and short-term patients--e.g., head injury, neck and back injury, and hip-fracture patients) and often with a wing for the memory impaired (e.g., Alzheimer's patients)
¥ nursing homes that house only the frail elderly (in need of 24 hour care for physical and/or mental dysfunction)
¥ assisted living residences (folks who need lower levels of care/supervision for physical or mental conditions or both --e.g., folks who need help bathing, folks who need daily medications monitored by a nurse, folks whose short-term memory deficits necessitate supervision)
¥ independent living residences (for people who need little or no assistance with their ADLs but who prefer the option of having their meals and housekeeping provided and having the social opportunities available in a community of senior citizens)
¥ retirement communities (with a range of lifestyles, including private homes, condominiums, apartments, residential group facilities, etc., all in the same complex)

Some of these types of facilities have mixed-age populations, and even in "senior" facilities, there may be several generations present for a program (with staff, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of residents attending/participating in some programs).

Also, some facilities are specialized populations, such as Jewish homes, Christian church-affiliated homes, Hispanic-related facilities.

Pictures and CDs are usually not necessary, but it "couldnt hoit" to have them available for the activity directors who want them.  It's more important to have a brochure/flyer that tells what kind of music you do  (e.g., jazz piano, folk guitar, classical banjo) and how to contact you.  You can give more information when you talk to the activity director.

Don't assume that anyone has a decent PA system.  Some do, but others have none at all.  I use a Fender Amp Can for jobs where I need a little amplification but don't need to have concert-hall sound quality.  For very small rooms or 1-to-1 music therapy, I use no amp.  I have more cumbersome but better quality amps for when I really want to fill a room and sound my best.  One thing you should know is that when playing at nursing and convalescent homes, you will very often be interrupted by PA announcements, nurses shouting in residents' ears to administer meds,  sometimes disruptive residents, and--oh, yes-- family and staff members carrying on loud conversations as though there were no activity going on at all!  Do invest in some sort of small PA system unless you're a belter and have a loud instrument, too.   I don't charge differently based on the PA system per se, but I do offer reduced rates to LOW BUDGET facilities if I can do the gig there--all things considered--relatively easily, conveniently, and quickly.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Wa Ban Zhou
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 01:15 AM

I've played and sung at some retirement homes and nursing homes, the gig I remember is the one where I showed up with my guitar, banjo and mandolin, to be told that what was expected of me was to walk around with a mike on long cord and croon to karoake-type back grounds. Well, down for a dime, down for a dollar I say, so I un did three buttons on my shirt, picked up my mike,and off into the wheelchairs I went, getting up in old women's faces and singing "What's New Pussycat" or whatever. It was strange. The people seemed to like it.I got a good story out of it, so it all worked out, but after that I always checked with the Program Director about what I was sxpected to do.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: musicmick
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 01:42 AM

Marion, Mike here. Genie is right on the mark about the sound system. Never trust that they will have a sound system or that their sound system will be functional. I use a small amp and a good mike. If you are serious about specializing in senior centers, you might invest in a remote setup. It gives me the freedom to walk around and interact with the patients. It really gives the show a new and vital dimension. Never, never, never play for free. If you do, you will have established your price. No one wants to pay someone who is willing to work for free. I know it's unfair but that's the way it is. If you work for free as a soloist, your group will be seen as an extention of you, that is as amateurs. If you are good enough to play, you are good enough for pay.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 02:44 AM

Marion, musimic, et al.,
Re: playing/working pro bono: Many professionals--some highly paid-- do a certain amount of pro bono work each year, and I have no objection to that. It generally amounts to a small percentage of the service provider's working hours and is provided for clients who really can't afford to pay.

What I do object to is: - the idea that musicians shouldn't charge, because they are doing something they love to do, and - the idea that nursing/retirement homes are, by definition, low-budget or non-profit and, therefore, should not pay for what others pay for.

No matter what your job and how much you love it, it's still work, and there is skill, talent, time, expense, etc. involved. Musicians should no more be ashamed to accept money for their services than should any other artisan, professional, craftsman, laborer, etc.

Also, the little mom and pop grocery store down the street may well be on a tighter budget than are a lot of nursing homes, I've seen senior facilities waste tons of money on things like putting out huge food trays for a party 40 minutes after dinner and then throwing 80% of it away, or disposable party decorations (Are those really needed?), or running their sprinkler systems mid-afternoon on really hot days --and then say "we have no more budget for entertainment. Think about it: if a facility has 100 residents and pays $50 for a sing-along once a week, that's $2.00 per week per resident. Folks in some independent living residences pay way over $100,000 per year to live there. Moreover, in many states, senior faciltities--including foster homes-- are required by law to provide actitivities for their residents. Believe me, the state does not expect these facilities to provide such services by relying on volunteers only.

The only reason I generally do "free" programs for the kind of facility I usually charge is when it's a bona fide audition that I am assured will lead to regular employment if the residents like me -- or if I've screwed up (e.g., missed a gig due to a calendar SNAFU) and "owe" them. (I even occasionally have problems from using a sliding scale and have to explain that to folks.)

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: musicmick
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 03:50 AM

Well Genie, it's dificult for a prospective client to differentiate between pro bono and dillitante. Every facility thinks itself worthy of volunteer contribution and, I suppose, they are. I dont doubt that professionals will donate their services to causes or institutions occasionally. This is not a problem unless the pro bono performance is done in the same kind of venue that the performer usually charges. If, let's say, a nightclub performer chooses to donate a set at a nursing home, his professional status is not compramised. Were he to donate his time at a nightclub, other nightclubs might balk at paying for what a rival establishment receives gratis. There are benefit concerts where professionals donate their talents. These are appropriate venues for your charity. I would feel uncomfortable about charging some facilities and not others. All my nursing homes are worthy and all of their patients deserve entertainment and the pure joy that only music can provide. I understand that some facilities have more limited funds than others and I sometimes take lower paying jobs if it makes business sense (double bookings, multiple bookings). Remember that first maxim. THEY REALLY DO HAVE AN ACTIVITIES BUDGET.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 04:34 AM

Mike, you've nailed it right on the head. The doc who usually works for a hospital or in private practice may do pro bono work for a nursing home, but the doc whose regular clients are nursing homes had best not.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 09:00 AM

As I said, early on, if you can afford to donate your services and find playing at nursing homes rewarding in other ways, everyone benefits. I wouldn't turn down an honorarium if offered, and for a special event, I'd ask for one. But just going to play for a room of people in wheel chairs on a Thursday afternoon for no reason other than that the days drag for the patients is something I love to do. If you need the money, I have no problem with that. But conversely, if someone wants to bring some joy to people badly in need of it and they don't need the money that badly that doesn't mean that they aren't valuing their music. When people ask how much my gospel group gets paid, I say our fee ranges from zero to $2,000. We've played for free, and we can get as much as $2,000 if we have to travel across country. It is our choice, how much we get paid. Or don't.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: pavane
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 01:05 PM

Mrs Pavane regularly does nursing homes and day centres here in Wales, and they all have an entertainment budget. The standard fee is £30, plus £5 if she has to travel more than 20 miles. As noted above, this is very little per head.

She built up the list of about 40 homes by just calling those listed in Yellow Pages. Many of them have given her further leads.

She ALWAYS takes her own PA, and an extra mike (& long lead!) for residents (and staff) to sing along.

She has a programme of pop songs mainly from the 1940's to the 1960's, which she finds are always well received, and also does standards like Danny Boy.

Occasionally, when I am free during the day, we have played some folk music as well, mostly Welsh tunes, and that also goes down well. Quite a number of the residents turn out to have been singers or musicians, and they appreciate the live music.

As for 'freebies', she does do Charity shows occasionally, but no others.

PS She did a club in Hirwaun last night, and was told she was the best act they had ever had!


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: musicmick
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 06:50 PM

Jerry is, obviously, commited to his beliefs and conducts his business accordingly, but if I were the activities director of a facility that Jerry chose to charge a fee, I would be resentful that he regarded my facility less worthy of his charity than another and I would be very reluctant to hire him and his group.I just dont think that selective largesse is compatable with sound business practice. If Jerry wishes to donate his time and effort to a particular nursing home, he can, discretely donate his fee AFTER he receives it.(I would hope that the fortunate recreator has the good sense to keep word of Jerry's generousity to himself). Professionalism is an attitude. It means running one's business as a business with agressive sales, quality product or service and intelligent management. Bill Veek, that great showman who added pizazz to what had been the dull predictability of baseball team ownership, had lots of promotions to increase ticket sales. He gave away cars, vacations and livestock but he never gave away free tickets. In his book, "Veek As In Wreck", he says, "Never give away what you are trying to sell."

Mike


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 07:15 PM

Well, there are a lot of groups around here that donate their music to nursing homes, etc. That doesn't mean it's the only option.

Here my 2cents: If you are thinking of doing an occasional nursing home gig and have the time and want to be of service, then don't hesitate to do it for free. If you intend to invest a large amount of time and energy, and need it to pay, then don't hesitate to do it for pay if you can manage it. (We are speaking strictly of playing music here.....:-)

Rita


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 10:04 PM

I think the idea that musicians should perform free for "nursing homes" comes from looking at it as providing a service to the residents/patients, rather than viewing it as providing  a needed service to a business.  Most  doctors, accountants, social workers, nurses, cooks, caterers, landscapers, electricians, and educators, etc., who serve the nursing home will charge for their services; they realize they are selling to the business or agency the services that are needed to run that business.  The electrician doesn't think: "Gee, those poor old folks are going to be left in the dark if no one donates their services to install lighting."

Activities/recreation therapy programs are recognized in the field as being very important to maintaining residents'/patient's health and are mandated in many states.  Sometimes the regular staff can provide these without hiring outside help (e.g., using recorded music and/or the talents of the staff), but often the residents benefit more from having live performers--especially those who specialize in doing music for this population.  Hiring musicians and music therapists is every bit as legitimate an expense for the business as is buying party decorations or ice cream and cake for the resident birthday party (on top of the regular budget for meals), renting videos, buying prizes for bingo, and other parts of the typical activity budget.

Again, this is not to discourage volunteerism.  Musicians often do music for nothing--sing-alongs, church choirs, open mics, jam sessions, etc.  And lots of us do other volunteer work --tree planting, "work days" at the church, helping in soup kitchens, building homes for Habitat For Humanity, etc.  And if you are strictly an amateur musician (i.e., you never charge), by all means donate your musical services.  But if you want to help out the old folks in nursing homes, why limit it to music.  There's a great need for folks to read to shut ins;  if you've got a mild-mannered pooch, the residents would love to have a visit; if you're a teacher of anything, you can do some free tutoring; you can save the facility money by doing landscape maintenance or painting for free; etc.  Please, though, don't single out musical performance and nursing homes as being less appropriate for paid services than are other occupations and businesses.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 28 Jul 02 - 11:13 PM

Musicmic: For the record, I've sung for nursing homes since the early sixties and I have never charged a fee, and never been paid one. Never asked for one. We have two different motivations for singing at nursing homes here, and each is valid. I don't criticize you or Genie for wanting to be paid, and I don't feel that my wanting to volunteer my services justifies criticism either. I don't consider myself an "amateur" musician. I've also done benefit concerts for many worthy organizations, including Habitat For Humanity, churches, community centers and the United Way among others. And you're right, Genie... there are many ways to reach out to the sick and shut-in. It's something I've enjoyed doing for most of my life. My wife and I visit the sick several times a month... far more often than I am asked to sing. We also keep in touch by phone with those who are housebound who we can't visit as regularly as we want.

Perhaps I am not running my business professionally. But then, it's not my business. If it was, I would run it differently. I have been fortunate not to be dependent on making a living off music, and that's allowed me to give what I have as generously as I can. If others have different needs, that's fine. They just haven't been mine, and I'm grateful for it.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 01:06 AM

.... and Genie: I am not singling out musical performance and nursing homes as less appropriate for paid services. This is probably the fourth posting that I've made that says I have NO criticism of people who expect to get paid for singing in nursing homes. My closest friend all these years has tried to support himself and his family on folk music and couldn not do what I've been able to do because I had a decent paying regular job. I would only encourage him to get paid every time that he could.

The funny thing is, Genie (and musicmic) No matter how hard we all try, we all end up talking about ourselves. Please don't take anything I say about what I am doing as being any more than saying what I am doing. It is not a criticism of you, or a negative comment about what you're doing. But, I guess that makes it the fifth time I'e said it. And meant it.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: musicmick
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 01:57 AM

Jerry, the name of the thread is Getting Nursing Home Gigs which, I assume, means paying jobs. As you dont seek paying jobs, my comments dont apply to you. Also, the term, amateur, is not a judgement of talent or ability. It means, literally, one who acts for the love of the activity. Those of us who perform for our suppers have chosen a field that, in general, is not as high paying or secure as others. We stay with our music careers because we love what we do, we do it well and we enjoy joy of expression and fulfillment that performing provides. We put up with many hassles trying to establish our businesses. We deal with low pay, slow play and clients who think we should get no pay. We are in a constant search for work. We dont get health benefits, we dont get retirement plans. We have little or no protection from clients who cancel at the last minute or who double book. Now, I am well established (I;ve been in this business for forty years) but the majority of the Mudcatters who are reading this thread are trying to make a niche for thenselves and, for them and for you, may I remind you of the out-of-work actor who decides to jump off a bridge and he meets a despondent prostitute who is also bent on suicide. He sums up their troubles saying, "Here we are, members of two noble professions, destroyed by amatuers."

Mike


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 02:48 AM

Jerry R, just to be clear, I'm not criticizing you, or anyone, for singing anywhere for free if it's not your primary profession and/or if there's a gig that you just plain want to do, for whatever reason, with no thought of compensation.  As Mike said, though, it's problematic to charge one school and not another or one nursing home and not another.  It seems we're all repeating ourselves--probably of necessity--to make sure our points have been communicated clearly.

I think we're in agreement that doing music as a professional for nursing homes is quite legitimate; that musicians deserve to be paid just like other artisans, professionals, workers; and that volunteering your time/service where it's needed is fine.  (I should add that most of the senior facilities where I play do use a lot of volunteer musicians --e.g., school and church choruses, retired musicians, and amateur musicians, as well as professional musicians who don't specialize in music for old folks--in addition to the musicians paid from their activities budget.  That is to say that folks who volunteer are not necessarily taking paid work away from those of us who charge; activities budgets are limited, and most places would like to have more activities than their budget allows.)

Nevertheless, the attitude that musicians should "play" for the love of it alone still persists--especially when it comes to nursing homes.  It's not unusual for family members who are present for my programs in nursing homes to gush at me, "I think it's such a wonderful thing that you're doing!"--with the possible/probable subtext "I'm assuming you're doing this as a volunteer."  (Do they say that to the nurses or doctors who treat the elderly?)  And, as Mike's bridge parable illustrates, the more people there are who are willing to provide a "service" free, the harder it is to make a living at it.  I think that's a reality musicians will always be up against, because -- unlike scrubbing toilets -- it's work that a lot of folks will do, and do well, for nothing.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 03:25 AM

First of all, many thanks to Genie and Musicmic - I'm learning a lot from this thread and the day job thread.

Some more thoughts:

1. I see your point, Mike, about being consistent and not giving away what I want to sell, but it creates a bit of a dilemma as I'm halfway between amateur and pro - I want to play for money, but I'm willing to play for free. I've volunteered as a musician at nursing homes dozens of times, and found it very fulfilling. There's one home now where I go once or twice a month as a volunteer. I'd hate to have to stop doing that in order to pursue the professional option.

2. At the same time, my volunteer gigs are quite different from what I would expect a paying gig to be - much more on my own terms. I tell the home when I want to come, I don't dress up, I only bring my fiddle, and I wander from floor to floor playing maybe 20 minutes at a spot, and I don't have to talk unless people talk to me. Indoor busking, basically. The only costs to me are time and bus fare, and it's worth it to me to see how much people enjoy the music.

However, I imagine that it'll be different when I look for work with my band - we'll have to worry about being there on time, and dress up, and maybe buy sound equipment, and get around on crowded buses with more than one instrument, and take taxis if we need to bring a PA, and rehearse with each other, and book gig times that meet all our schedules as well as the homes', and prepare enough material to play a long time in one location, and talk between songs, and so on. It's all these extra headaches that I want to be compensated for - not the music itself.

3. I've had one paying gig at a nursing home party; and it's a little strange how I got the gig. There is another nursing home in my neighbourhood where I've been trying to volunteer... I've left them half a dozen messages in as many months, and they never call me back. However, an aide (not involved in activity planning) who works there brought my number to a different home she also works at and they called me up and offered me a paying gig, with no evidence of what I can do other than my phone message that "I'm a fiddler...". So maybe volunteering doesn't lead to gigs, but unsuccessfully trying to volunteer does...:)

4. At that party gig I played, there happened to be a girl volunteering (in the kitchen) who also played fiddle, so she borrowed my fiddle and played for a while too. In terms of musical skill, she totally kicked my butt (although I think I was better at choosing material that the audience liked). I was a little embarrassed at first that I was getting paid and she wasn't, till I reflected that this didn't have anything to do with our skill: it was because she presented herself as a volunteer and I presented myself as a professional.

Anyway, what I've learned from this is that there is money available and if I declare myself a professional then I've got as much of a shot at it as anybody - but I think waiting for the next call out of the blue isn't a good plan.

5. There's a hospital where I was going frequently to visit somebody, and I chatted with a band that was volunteering there. I suggested that I'd sit in with them on my next visit, and they said that I'd be welcome musically, I'd have to be properly registered as a hospital volunteer to play a tune with them, which meant getting a tuberculosis test, getting a couple of people to fill in reference forms, and attending a 4 hour orientation session. Sorry... too many hoops to jump through to play for free.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 03:39 AM

Marion, I think you've hit an important nail on the head:  "...volunteer gigs are quite different from what I would expect a paying gig to be - much more on my own terms...  ."  and "It's [the] extra headaches that I want to be compensated for - not the music itself. "  [Like all the red tape that hospital required.]

You're right that "waiting for the next call out of the blue isn't a good plan."


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 03:40 AM

Another question, Genie (I'm going to send you a present when our band gets on our feet):

Occasionally when I call in to volunteer, I'm told that the home isn't taking outside visitors because of an outbreak. How do you deal with this financially when it happens on short notice? Do you expect to be paid anyway, or paid a lesser cancellation fee?

Actually, one more thing; you said above that people need to realize that music is a service (paid, or donated) to the institution, not the residents. I don't think that's entirely true. While the institution is probably going to get live music for the Christmas party, and pay for it if they have to, they're probably not going to be booking music for next Wednesday afternoon. So whether or not I take the time to show up Wednesday afternoon makes a difference to the residents, not to the institution. So I think of my volunteering as a gift to the residents, who would in fact be left "sitting there in the quiet" at that particular time if I don't show up.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 04:21 AM

Marion, when I'm cancelled last minute due to unavoidable circumstances I try to reschedule the program, if I can, for a time that is not a high-demand time in my schedule.  If this is not possible, I generally just write it off.  After all, it occasionally happens the other way around --I have to cancel last minute (or reschedule) because of illness or getting stuck in a horrendous traffic jam or having a car break down.

I've toyed with the idea of requiring a cancellation fee if I'm cancelled on short notice (less than 2 months ahead of time for prime time gigs), but to pull that policy off, there's a lot of logistics to set up first, and I'm not sure it's worth my time.  Most places that would honor the policy will also pay me anyway if they have to cancel last minute.  (Exeter House in Seattle recently did just that when my scheduled program conflicted wtih the memorial service for a resident who died unexpectedly.)

Re service to the resident vs. service to the facility, I think when you do a program for the residents as a group, you are providing the service to the facility.  They usually have activities scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and pretty much all the hours when most residents are awake, and when volunteers provide those programs, it frees up their staff/budgets for other things.  To reiterate, most states require them to provide activities, not just have their residents sitting around all day with nothing to do.

One-to-one visits are less clear-cut in that regard,  The facility does (and is probably mandated to) provide activities for room-bound residents, but there is always more of a need for these visits than is budgeted for, so if you give them room visits beyond what they've scheduled, it really is an additional service to the residents.
(When residents go back to their rooms for a nap after lunch or are put to bed after dinner, some of them stay up and awake much longer than others; when you sing for these residents, I'd say your service is essentially to individual seniors, not so much to the facility.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 07:30 AM

Hi, Genie, Mike and Marion: It took awhile, but I'm glad that we see each other clearly and appreciate what each of us does. In the long run, I'm just pleased that we're all going into nursing homes. Mike and Genie have a lot of good suggestions, which I don't as I'm not trying to get a paying gig out of nursing homes (I'm perfectly happy to ask for as much as traffic will allow in most other circustances though, so I am not necessarily altruistic.) I also realize that it costs money to play music. I've invested quite a bit in sound equipment, and appreciate the jobs that pay well to help offset that investment. Also, when I play with my quartet, a couple of the guys may have to give up the opportunity to earn money in other ways in order to come and play for nothing. That happens infrequently enough that they encourage me to get "bookings" as often as I can. And, having played folk music for pay so many years, I realize that bookings are often not much more than a break-even proposition even when you are paid. I especially appreciate what you've done, Mike, because I know that you are trying to make a living doing what you love, and that you bring an enormous amount of pleasure to other people with very little compensation. I commented once that "in folk music, there is no such thing as a career move." And it's true. It's a profession that only those who really love the music and performing would choose. The more you can get paid, the better. I also have found from experience that because I volunteer somewhere doesn't mean that the church or nursing home won't pay someone else. I have never felt that I'm taking work away from other musicians and I could give countless examples of places where I've sung for a fund-raiser where they hired someone else to do a program later. I don't have regrets. I get my paying jobs at places where they have volunteers, too. If anyone thinks that most musicians are in it for the money, they should be instituionalized.

I think I'll bow out here... good luck to all of you. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 03:18 PM

Genie: I'll PM you, since the answer to your question is not really an answer, but more the subject of an unrelated conversation--As for you, Marion, there are many retirement communities in Florida, and there is something akin to a performing circuit--there are a lot of professional entertainers who make a living there--but take my word for it, none of them let someone from the kitchen cut into their act--


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 08:29 PM

M.Ted., I'm sure the well-established entertainers in Florida's retirement-home circuit wouldn't take much gaff from the kitchen staff.  Where the entertainment/activity is highly valued, and paid a commensurate fee, the administrator would probably not be happy if an entertainer crossed them off her/his list because of the impertinence of a peripheral staffer.  (When you're just getting established, you have less clout.)

In nursing and convalescent homes, though -- places that have nurses, aides, etc. -- the activity or recreation therapy department is, unofficially, lower on the totem pole than are such "essential" departments as nursing and dietary.  Visitors and staff not only interrupt me, they interrupt the activity director in the middle of story reading, music, or other activities for which residents' attention is important--even memorial services.   I think it's mainly a reflection of the attitude that people do live by bread -- and meds -- alone; art, music, and spirituality are considered non-essential.

Also some staff simultaneously underestimate and overestimate residents' mental abilities.  Some see no point in trying to engage their minds--e.g., with a funny story or a ballad where you have to listen to the whole thing.  Others underappreciate their distractibiltiy, unaware that if they stand in the doorway and wave to residents, or come in and hug them during the program, they are often--no matter how well intentioned--lessening the cognitive and emotional stimulation the residents could have derived if allowed to participate in the activity uninterrupted.
 


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: musicmick
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 11:14 PM

Marion, you are, indeed, in a bind. You will never be able to establish yourself as a professional if you are willing to perform without pay. Your potential customers will judge your value by what others have paid and, if they have paid nothing, that is the precise sum you will be offered. I know it's unfair but it is the way of the world. Too many facilities think that musicians should donate their services as it is. You are, already, in competition with people like Jerry, who never charge for their performances and create the impression that entertainment is free. You have to change their view of your worth and the only way to do that is to stop giving it away. When you are well established and can command you fee, you will be less comprimised by your charity. There will always be the gifted amateurs who play for charitable motives. They are not your concern. You must show that you are at a different level of skill and that you should be paid even though they are not. Otherwise, why should a facility pay you rather than book Jerry for free? You have to know that you are much better than the amateurs and you have to show that you know it by charging EVERYONE for your work. Yes, it is chutzbah but if you dont believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Good luck.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 01:14 AM

Marion, what Mike says is right on. I'm sure I've said this before (somewhere in the forum), but one way to set yourself apart from most of the volunteer performers is to develop skills and play lists that are specifically geared to nursing homes. The activity directors can help you with this, and you will learn a lot just by doing this kind of music program frequently.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 01:55 AM

Have been following this thread with interest although I don't have much to contribute since most (but not all) of my playing specifically for older people has been unpaid so far.

Marion's description of the requirements for being a hospital volunteer included a TB test, and she mentioned outbreaks of infection etc. do occur. This made me aware of a potential problem for me. Would like to know whether it's really likely to be a problem.

Here's the thing: I had a heart transplant almost 7 years ago. I take medications to suppress my immune system, and my white blood count (first line against infection) keeps getting lower. I stay pretty healthy, but I also don't work outside my home.

I can call my doctors and ask whether it would be a problem I guess. What I'd like, is your gut reaction to whether there's likely to be any real increase in exposure to infectious this-and-thats if one is playing in a nursing home. I'm hoping you will feel that this is a non problem.

Rita


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 02:10 AM

Another question. Genie and Mike are agreed that you can't do pro bono work for one nursing home and expect to be paid by other nursing homes. Makes sense to me.

But what about doing other types of pro bono gigs that aren't in competition with your paid work? I played several times for groups like Kiwanis, and several Jewish service organizations. For some groups, I only played about 25 minutes because I was "guest speaker" at their meeting. A few offered to pay but asked whether I would donate the time. They all invited me to lunch with the group. If I played longer sets, I was paid.

Most of these little gigs led to other requests for me to play, and eventually to some paying gigs.

I've been sporadically working on a CD which -- if I can get it out! -- will probably sell well to these groups. Because of these threads, I have moved the CD project to the front burner again. (It's not my terrific musicianship that will sell CD's for me, it's the sound of my lovely old zither, and my repertoire of old parlor songs and old pop songs.)

Even if they don't pay me, I suspect I could sell a few CD's each time, maybe more than a few. And, each set is only 25-30 minutes, it's not comparable to performing for 40 minutes to an hour.

So. Would this be incompatible with playing for pay at retirement communities, nursing homes, etc?

Thanks for all the marvelous info in this and the day job thread, Mike, Genie, Jerry, everyone. Even if I find I have to avoid nursing homes, this thread is giving me so much valuable info for earning a bit of money from something I love to do.

Rita


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 02:51 AM

Re: "let someone from the kitchen cut into their act" and "the impertinence of a peripheral staffer":

I actually hadn't thought about it that way at all until now. I appreciated the girl's desire to do some of the fiddling because then I could accompany her on the piano, and I figure that a fiddle-piano duet would be nicer than a long stretch of solo fiddle. But I suppose it could have backfired, if she turned out not to be any good, so maybe it's too risky to let a stranger sit in. And maybe it has backfired on me with me realizing - if it made the AD look at me as less professional because of this.

I showed this thread to my mother today, who has been doing hymn singalongs at nursing homes as a volunteer for 25 years. She says that what makes her events there different from almost everybody else's (volunteer or paid) is that it's meant to be highly participatory, not a performance. They hand out lyric books, and ask for requests, and help people find their places in the books, and change tempo partway through a song to accomodate someone who's singing at a different tempo. She has also had many experiences of people who are apparently very disengaged from the world start to respond when a familiar hymn is sung - and the staff tell her that many people are more alert for hours after a hymnsing.

She also told me that while virtually all of the musicians who play at the nursing homes in our town are volunteers, for the volunteer appreciation dinners (to which the residents aren't invited), they hire a band. That's funny, but not in a ha-ha way.

Marion


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Mudcat time: 17 October 1:47 AM EDT

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