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Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... #2727549
04/08/18 07:13 PM
04/08/18 07:13 PM
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Upstate New York, USA
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newbert Offline OP
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After a L-O-N-G time thinking and talking about it, I think that I'm finally at the point where I'm ready to try playing for seniors and/or nursing home residents. I've "wanted" to do this for a long time, but just didn't have the confidence. (I'm still not sure whether I do, but I need to dive in at some point.) I'd consider myself and advanced beginner/low intermediate and have NO experience playing for others, and have the following "program" planned which is a mix of Great American Songbook and 70's Pop:

The Nearness of You - Hoagy Carmichael
As Time Goes By - Herman Hupfeld
When Sunny Gets Blue - Marvin Fisher
All In Love Is Fair - Stevie Wonder
Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered) - Rodgers and Hart
Misty - Erroll Garner
Star Dust - Hoagy Carmichael
I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry - Jule Styne
All The Way - Sammy Cahn
NY State of Mind - Billy Joel

Encore (If Merited) - Souvenir - Billy Joel

If all goes well, this should cover about 45 minutes, which I'm told is about the right length-of-time-wise.

I'm bringing my own DP to use so things stay as familiar as possible for me.

Does anyone have any advice for me? Things to be sure of and things to avoid? Any thoughts on planning or even the chosen program would be appreciated.

Thanks!


Bert
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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727554
04/08/18 07:37 PM
04/08/18 07:37 PM
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I used to play for an assisted living center every week. It was a joy.

As far as repertoire, just warming up and checking volume levels by playing a C major scale or a Hanon exercise elicited applause and smiles. In other words, they love music and the break from boredom, TV, CNN, etc.

They liked the Great American Songbook, and the Beatles, and Classical (I used a level 2 or 3 simplified Classical repertoire book, and played from that...complicated/difficult is unnecessary).

But what they LOVED was Blues-based music...Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Folsom Prison Blues, etc. That music was by far the most liked, and the staff loved it also.

Also early Rock and Roll. And for sure old-fashioned Gospel...Amazing Grace, In the Garden, What a Friend we have in Jesus...you will have a sing-along everytime you play those. Once I played them, they were requested every week.

BTW,..don't be fooled into thinking that the residents only love the Great American Songbook, Sinatra, etc. I was told as much by the staff at the home, but the staff basically did not know what the people liked, they were only going on their logical thinking of they folks should like.

Instead, I eventually realized that the residents of the home came from all walks of life, and had all musical tastes from every genre.

Bottom line, just play, and don't worry. They are the most loving and forgiving audience you will ever encounter.


Piano teacher.
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727560
04/08/18 07:50 PM
04/08/18 07:50 PM
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I’m sorry that I don’t have advice as a beginner but I commend you for doing that. I’m sure it will be much appreciated.


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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727567
04/08/18 08:23 PM
04/08/18 08:23 PM
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I would suggest trying to include some up tempo songs in your program.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 04/08/18 08:23 PM.
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727577
04/08/18 09:21 PM
04/08/18 09:21 PM
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Try to assure that your digital piano has sufficient volume for the setting and audience. You might do well to test your digital's volume in a room similar in size to the room you will perform in as sound that is adequate in a small room might not be sufficient for a larger room. Also, older people might have trouble hearing, so, more volume might be very needed.

If you have some powered studio monitors, it might be a good idea to bring them along.

Have fun and know that you are having a positive impact on someone's day!


Ralph

Casio Privia PX-760
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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727586
04/08/18 10:05 PM
04/08/18 10:05 PM
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Hey there,

How cool that you are going to do that.

Your set list looks to be approx 20 minutes to me, but I don't know the arrangements you have worked up.
I would suggest having more songs ready to go if possible.

Even if you are shy, don't be afraid to talk on the mic and let people get to know you. Sometimes an outsider
with a story or two to tell is very refreshing for them.

Also, I started out doing gigs like that and the first thing I noticed is that often staff members at places like
that do not know anything about audio. You might need to educate them about that. Be aware of staff putting
very touchy people with hearing aids right next to your speakers for example.

Taking the step of doing this is also a great way to build your confidence as well. Hope it goes well!


Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
Recording Artist and Jazz Piano Instructor
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727587
04/08/18 10:05 PM
04/08/18 10:05 PM
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Tennessee
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One day I will be in that audience and I hope someone will pound out some Green Day tunes. smile

Good luck and I commend you for doing this. Maybe one day I'll be good enough to do this also. I've been recording tunes on my iphone and playing :"name that tune" on Saturdays when I have lunch with my mom and her friends. They have a good laugh each week guessing what I'm "trying" to play. Thank goodness the Fabers include a lot of recognizable tunes in the Lesson and Performance books.


Started Playing October 1, 2017. First Lesson Oct. 17, 2017. Currently in Faber Accelerated Piano Adventures Book 2 For The Older Beginner. Yamaha P-115.
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727603
04/08/18 11:49 PM
04/08/18 11:49 PM
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In my experience the folks in assisted living or care homes (I visited a friend for some ten years in one of those) love to sing along. You're my Sunshine is a favorite, any Johnny Cash's or Elvis' songs are loved, so is Tell it on the Mountain, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and more of the old chestnuts.

The entertainers all came with an amplifier and speakers and a microphone. Usually there is a piano in the care home. As Rob said, watch out where people sit and position the speakers accordingly.

Good for you! They'll love you and don't care about little mistakes, so don't apologize if you miss a note smile. They love to hear your stories too.

Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727671
04/09/18 09:48 AM
04/09/18 09:48 AM
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Thumbs up, newbert! I always tell them my idea of variations is to play it right the second time through smile

I always just noodle on the piano when I first sit down - chord progressions, for me, but anything will do, whatever you're comfortable with. It gets me in the playing mode after the bringing-stuff-in, taking-off-my-jacket, nodding-and-saying-hello, moving-the-piano-setting-stuff-up, mode - gets me back to a little focus on music. Every couple of tunes I say something about the music - like the above, or why I chose the piece, or something I might know about how I know it - like - you remember the Andrews Sisters doing that one, right? - or - bet you used to dance to this one - again, whatever you're comfortable with.

Come back and tell us what it was like - all of the posts here seem really relevant to me - I've played the kind of tunes you've got scheduled, and some Baroque, and some Irish traditional, and some country-western - and it's all a hit.

I love the name-that-tune suggestion laugh whether on an iphone or live. Interactive is great! And I do get sing-alongs, too - one time I thought I'd finished playing, and I had, but the singing didn't stop - we did one more chorus a capello. It was one of the best times.

This is such a good thing to do for you and them.


Cathy
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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727682
04/09/18 11:00 AM
04/09/18 11:00 AM
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newbert, that's so inspiring and so wonderful! I wish you all the best, and I am sure your audience will love you. You've inspired me to do something similar for a summer project. Please let us know how it goes. I don't have advice, not having done anything like this myself yet, but I do have lots of encouragement for you!


"Genius is not the sign of demigodliness, but the sign of having a profoundly practical mind" - anonymous

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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727711
04/09/18 01:15 PM
04/09/18 01:15 PM
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I too have played in a Care Home and the Great American Songbook is a great series. However we should remember that many residents may be suffering from dementia. This is relevant because woman especially in their sixties and seventies may have been at home all day and listening to the pop music of the era as well as Sinatra, Sean and Sammy.

Ian


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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727733
04/09/18 02:59 PM
04/09/18 02:59 PM
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I agree this is a great thing to do....charitable, forgiving audience, low pressure. My mother was in one of those places a few years ago, and they had a piano....I always thought it would be cool to play there but I was just beginning to learn to play and nowhere near ready so it never happened. I can't even walk into that place now, it depresses me so much, but that's because my mother dwindled there for too long and that's definitely a different story.

Best of luck, it's a great thing you're doing!


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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727752
04/09/18 05:10 PM
04/09/18 05:10 PM
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Georgia, USA
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Originally Posted by newbert

I'm bringing my own DP to use so things stay as familiar as possible for me.


Good plan. I've done this a few times, always organized by my piano teacher. She takes a bunch of students (of all ages). The audience appreciates it.

But the pianos were always terrible. Out of tune, notes not working, one sustain pedal that made clunking noises. The pianos were all donated, I'm sure. I don't think the audience noticed.

Sam

Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727792
04/09/18 07:47 PM
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This is a very kind and charitable act. The vast majority of people in these places LOVE piano music. Smile, chat a bit, and you will be a BIG hit! Good Luck!

Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: NobleHouse] #2727795
04/09/18 07:57 PM
04/09/18 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
This is a very kind and charitable act. The vast majority of people in these places LOVE piano music. Smile, chat a bit, and you will be a BIG hit! Good Luck!


Yes it is a very kind and charitable, and often people get paid to play...Many facilities have a requirement to provide entertainment, and their budget provides for that. Musicians and other forms of entertainment is a business expense; asking about it is fine.


Piano teacher.
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727813
04/09/18 09:30 PM
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So wonderful of you to give your time and talent for the elderly. I'm sure they will appreciate the pieces you've selected.

Our choir has performed for the elderly community from time to time. They do enjoy songs they can clap to and even better when a song is familiar to them and they can sing along.

Maybe a few of your family or friends might want to help by bringing a batch of homemade cookies or cake to share with the residents. It's best to check with the resident administrator if that's permissible.

Best of luck and have a wonderful time! 😀


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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727814
04/09/18 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert
The Nearness of You - Hoagy Carmichael
As Time Goes By - Herman Hupfeld
When Sunny Gets Blue - Marvin Fisher
All In Love Is Fair - Stevie Wonder
Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered) - Rodgers and Hart
Misty - Erroll Garner
Star Dust - Hoagy Carmichael
I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry - Jule Styne
All The Way - Sammy Cahn
NY State of Mind - Billy Joel

Encore (If Merited) - Souvenir - Billy Joel


These are great tunes, but they're all ballads ... I'll second the suggestion to add some up-tempo tunes to the setlist.

I always like to throw in tunes from my "OTS" list, as I call it: Old Time Songs. They're always well received. Things like:

Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Makin' Whoopee
On the Sunny Side of the Street
Side by Side
Tea for Two

Cheers to you for doing this! You'll enjoy it and learn from it, and they'll love it.

Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727816
04/09/18 10:36 PM
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Oh and P.S.
Be SURE to put a tip jar out there.
Make sure it says TIPS on there.
If you mark your tip jar as "DONATIONS"
for an older crowd, anything could happen.


Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
Recording Artist and Jazz Piano Instructor
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: Rob Mullins] #2727895
04/10/18 08:29 AM
04/10/18 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob Mullins
Oh and P.S.
Be SURE to put a tip jar out there.
Make sure it says TIPS on there.
If you mark your tip jar as "DONATIONS"
for an older crowd, anything could happen.


You would need to ask the staff if that was ok. I have never seen tip jars in a nursing home facility. Bars and some restaurants, yes.

Perhaps it is an area thing.


Piano teacher.
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2727900
04/10/18 08:35 AM
04/10/18 08:35 AM
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One thing you might do is make sure you have a nice version of Happy Birthday you won't flunk if people start singing along to. Each visit you could ask who has a birthday this week/ this month and play Happy Birthday and get them to join in. Good ice-breaker perhaps?


"Study Bach: there you will find everything" - Johannes Brahms.
Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: Rob Mullins] #2727941
04/10/18 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob Mullins
Oh and P.S.
Be SURE to put a tip jar out there.


At least in my area, in a nursing home or assisted-living facility a tips jar would be hugely inappropriate. Also pointless, since the residents do not carry money with them.

Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: Mike A] #2728003
04/10/18 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike A
Originally Posted by Rob Mullins
Oh and P.S.
Be SURE to put a tip jar out there.


At least in my area, in a nursing home or assisted-living facility a tips jar would be hugely inappropriate. Also pointless, since the residents do not carry money with them.


Yeah, but who knows, you pick up a free set of dentures! laugh


Ralph

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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: LadyAcadia] #2728110
04/10/18 11:17 PM
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Quote
Maybe a few of your family or friends might want to help by bringing a batch of homemade cookies or cake to share with the residents. It's best to check with the resident administrator if that's permissible


In my province, no homemade food is allowed in the care homes to prevent contamination with bacteria which could make the residents sick. Store bought sealed items are allowed.

Care homes have a set of rules and regulations, so anyone who is doing something for the residents, even just planning a birthday party for a relative/friend, should ask for them. Aids or nurses are not always fully cognizant about the rules which don't apply to their own area of responsibilities..

Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2728197
04/11/18 09:55 AM
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I've done it twice, once with my duet partner and the second time with my daughters (at the same assisted living place). We only played the classical repertory, but it went very well, even though the first time I was a nervous wreck and made tons of mistakes. I noticed that the residents liked a little conversation in between the pieces and overall.

Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: dumka1] #2728429
04/12/18 07:40 AM
04/12/18 07:40 AM
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Thanks for all of the ideas and advice. I'm going to try substituting (or adding) some simple Beatles songs, but I won't be bringing a tip jar. smile Gotta get back to practicing now!


Bert
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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: Mike A] #2728576
04/12/18 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike A
Originally Posted by newbert
The Nearness of You - Hoagy Carmichael
As Time Goes By - Herman Hupfeld
When Sunny Gets Blue - Marvin Fisher
All In Love Is Fair - Stevie Wonder
Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered) - Rodgers and Hart
Misty - Erroll Garner
Star Dust - Hoagy Carmichael
I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry - Jule Styne
All The Way - Sammy Cahn
NY State of Mind - Billy Joel

Encore (If Merited) - Souvenir - Billy Joel


These are great tunes, but they're all ballads ... I'll second the suggestion to add some up-tempo tunes to the setlist.

I always like to throw in tunes from my "OTS" list, as I call it: Old Time Songs. They're always well received. Things like:

Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Makin' Whoopee
On the Sunny Side of the Street
Side by Side
Tea for Two

Cheers to you for doing this! You'll enjoy it and learn from it, and they'll love it.


I used to play such stuff for old time and modern dancing, for the elderly crowd at the working men's club where this work was. Like, twenty years ago
They told us (a three piece) that they wanted the new tunes instead. Well, "My Yidishee Momma" was new to me . . . . so was "Red sails in the Sunset"

We didn't last too long there!


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2728785
04/13/18 11:38 AM
04/13/18 11:38 AM
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I've been doing this for years. Sometimes background music for dinners etc. Sometimes for sort of mini concerts. I've even played music while people are arriving for Senior Readers plays. A couple times I played appropriate music to lead into the themes for play acts. Various other situation too like Christmas music for Christmas functions of various types. If you do it a few times you'll get requests that you can add "next time"

I've even had a few who used to play themselves and I always encourage them to play anything they remember. One lady could obviously play well at one time but could only remember "How Much is that Doggy in the Window" She played it over and over, I think she'd still be playing it if I didn't gently suggested it was my turn. She was all smiles an her eyes lit up. The audience love it.

I've even typed up some lyric sheets for the most common and most loved songs.

All very low key, non judgemental environments and lots of fun. It's even more fun now that I'm a senior citizen myself.

Almost anything is appropriate and appreciated. Remember, although their situation is common, they are from all walks of life and have all kinds of tastes in music just like all of us. They're just folks.

If you get a chance, do it. You won't be sorry and it's a good experience for the player AND the audience.

Fun stuff!

Last edited by Roger Ransom; 04/13/18 11:47 AM. Reason: Added a sentence

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Re: Playing For Nursing Homes/Senior Centers, etc..... [Re: newbert] #2728798
04/13/18 12:55 PM
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Posts: 12,075
Georgia, USA
My late mother-in-law was in a couple of nursing homes the last several years of her life. I was fortunate enough to play for the senior residents on many occasions. The activities director for one of the nursing homes asked me to play on a regular basis once a month on Sunday afternoons. Over time, I played all of my instruments, and usually sang as I played. I played my acoustic guitar, 5-stringed banjo, violin and, of course, the piano. I enjoyed playing them all, but I really enjoyed playing the piano because it is my newest instrument I'm learning to play.

On the Sunday gigs I played mostly older Church hymns and southern Gospel songs. It seemed like I had an endless supply of material because I've been involved in Church most of my life. Sometimes the residents, almost all in wheelchairs, would sing along. I'll never forget the smiles on those mature faces. smile

The thought of adding a bit of joy, happiness, entertainment, and inspiration to their lives was priceless.

On occasion, (other than Sundays) I'd back-slide a bit and play some oldies rock-n-roll, boogie-woogie and blues. Not only would I notice the smiles, but just a bit of weaving and bobbing, and tapping the feet in those wheelchairs was a sight to see. I'd play Ray Charles, "I can't stop loving you", "Georgia on my mind", Elvis and Willie's "You were always on my mind"; Fat's domino's "Blueberry Hill" and "Twist", Little Richard's "Good-golly miss Molly" and "Tutti-Fruitti"; Jerry Lee's "Whole lotta shakin". I'd slow it down a bit and play "Somewhere over the rainbow" or "America the beautiful", or some old country music tunes by Hank Williams senior. I know they enjoyed it, but it was a lot of fun for me too. For one reason, they actually thought I could play a piano. smile

Sometimes I'd play my own original songs and arraignments, but since they'd never heard those tunes, they weren't as excited, or my original tunes weren't that good (or a combination of the two). smile

Since my mother-in-law passed away, I miss going to the nursing home and performing for the residents. With my wife being severely disabled herself, I find it hard to breakaway and take the time to go play.

I didn't mean to be so wordy, but the bottom line is the nursing home residents will enjoy anything you play. They mostly enjoy the time someone is willing to spend with them...

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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