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A "YOU WILL REALLY WANT TO READ THIS BOOK" recommendation . . .

I would like to recommend a book for those who are thinking about singing to senior adults, especially if something keeps causing you to abandon your plan using either of these excuses:\-"I just don't have the time," or
-"I'll do it when I'm less busy at work."
I wrote these two specific excuses as examples because I have used them numerous times in my life.  I knew at age 17 that I wanted a career singing to kids in camps, libraries and schools, and to senior adults wherever they gathered or lived.  I didn't start doing either on a regular basis until my late 40's. I may have been 48.  I'll be 60 my next birthday.  That's a lot of years not doing what I wanted to do.

The title of the book is "The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity."  The author is Julia Cameron.

I'm working slowly (on purpose) through this book, and I am finding it to be very helpful as I endeavor to work through a bit of "creati…

Elderly Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Music From His Era

I found this video to be simply fascinating.  I've had a couple of similar experiences over the years when I have performed music for senior adults in nursing home / long term care facilities.  They will be unresponsive, until I sing a song from "back in their day."  It's pretty amazing to watch them when they seem to "come alive." 

Many years ago, I sang at a memory care center in Georgetown, Texas.  Back then, I always finished my program with the old gospel hymn, "The Great Physician."  An elderly woman was slumped into a wheelchair at the back of the room next to the nurses station.  Her eyes were glazed.  She was physically alive, and perhaps that was about it. When I began to sing, "The Great Physician," she sat up in her wheelchair and sang every word with me in a voice as clear as the ringing of a bell.

Sweetest note in seraph song . . .
Sweetest name on mortal tongue . . .
Sweetest carol ever sung . . .
Jesus blessed Jesus.

Many o…

Texas Plains - Kristyn Harris

Kristyn Harris recently performed for the Crowley House of Hope Annual Volunteer Dinner which we were honored to host at the church where I serve as Pastor.  This is the 2nd time Kristyn has performed here . . . and we really appreciate her talent very much!  She is one classy young woman, and many here enjoy following her music career.  She is an energetic talent.  If you want to watch someone embracing their passon as their life work, then check Kristyn out. There are many, may videos of her  performing on Facebook!

Enjoy!  This will lift your spirits!

CLICK HERE to go to Kristyn's website.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tommy Emmanuel with Sungha Jung ~ Day Tripper / Lady Madonna

This is a great video of Tommy Emmanuel and Sungha Jung.   I bet Tommy will pass on the torch to Sungha one day.  Both incredible guitar players.

Now, get this, all you are going to here is two guitarists, but it sound like they have a backing band.  Incredible.

Please enjoy!  Don't forget to make your own music today!  Sing to bless your soul and the soul of someone else!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Singing to Senior Adults: #5 - Do's and Don'ts when singing to older adults

Part 1 - Getting your foot in the door to sing to senior adults
Part 2 - Treat the first ttime to sing to senior adults as an audition.
Part 3 - The basic equipment you need to bring with you.
Part 4 - Giving senior adults the chance to experience emotion through music.
Part 5 - The "Do's and Don'ts" when singing to senior adults.

Over the course of singing to older adults for 20+ years . . . I've learned the following:

Do's . . .

1) Be on time.  I try to be early when I can . . . hopefully arriving 10 minutes early to set up and greet people.  If I am running late, due to traffic or dealing with something at the church, I will call and advise that I will be a little late.  they almost always understand.

2) Be prepared.  If I forget my iPad, no big deal.  I have enough songs memorized that I can sing with out it.  If you don't have the right songs memorized, that could be a problem.  So be prepared.  Make sure you iPad or tablet computer is fully charged, or th…

Singing to Senior Adults: #4 - Giving older adults the chance to experience emotion through music

Part 1 - Getting your foot in the door to sing to senior adults
Part 2 - Treat the first ttime to sing to senior adults as an audition.
Part 3 - The basic equipment you need to bring with you.
Part 4 - Giving senior adults the chance to experience emotion through music.
Part 5 - The "Do's and Don'ts" when singing to senior adults.

Singing for Senior Adults opens a wide variety of musical choices.

But sooner or later, you are going to sing a song that someone in the audience identifies with on a deeply emotional basis.  Please . . . consider letting them have that moment.

For some seniors, it may be a very happy memory of a day gone by, and the tears you see are reflective and contemplative tears of joy.

For others, it may be an unhappy memory.  But a memory they are none-the-less willing to feel the pain of again as a way of grieving.

I like to sing the old Pete Seeger song, "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."  The last verse is about preparing for death . . . and the …

Singing to Senior Adults: #3 - What to bring with you . . .

Part 1 - Getting your foot in the door to sing to senior adults
Part 2 - Treat the first ttime to sing to senior adults as an audition.
Part 3 - The basic equipment you need to bring with you.
Part 4 - Giving senior adults the chance to experience emotion through music.
Part 5 - The "Do's and Don'ts" when singing to senior adults.

What do you bring with you when you sing for seniors?   My personal list is not that long.

First . . . bring YOU!  Sounds simple, and kind of silly as well.  But if you don't show up, there isn't any music!  If you are a solo performer, then be sure to make every effort to arrive a few minutes early.  Setting up to sing for senior adults seldom takes me more than 5 minutes, even with tuning.  Be on time and be prepared.  Be dressed appropriately for the venue and for the event.

Second . . . bring your instrument!  There are several times in my singing history when I have shown up in a rush to get to the venue, and I brought the wrong gui…

Singing to Senior Adults: #2 - Treat the first time to sing as an audition.

Part 1 - Getting your foot in the door to sing to senior adults
Part 2 - Treat the first ttime to sing to senior adults as an audition.
Part 3 - The basic equipment you need to bring with you.
Part 4 - Giving senior adults the chance to experience emotion through music.
Part 5 - The "Do's and Don'ts" when singing to senior adults.

OK . . . you've made a contact, gone and introduced yourself, and you've been placed on the calendar of upcoming events!   Congratulations.

Now what do you do?  Well before you go any further, please understand that singing to senior adults is NOT ABOUT YOU!   It's ALL ABOUT WHO YOU ARE SINGING TO!!!!!

Sorry for the caps, but I wanted to make a point (and no, I wasn't yelling).

I have certain songs that I love to sing.  I have an iPad (more on that later in the series) with the words and guitar chords to over 400 songs I've sung to senior adults over many years. That's all well and good. However, the songs you sing to se…

Benefits and blessings when singing . . .

Singing to older adults has its benefits.  Sometimes the benefit becomes a personal blessing.

I sang this morning at our local Senior Center.  I sing there once-a-month, and on other special occassions.  I will be the "entertainer" at their upcoming Community Thanksgiving Dinner in November.  I can't wait!

When I arrived at the Senior Center this morning, the first thing I heard was "tell us about your vacation!"  

"Aww, y'all don't want to hear about my vacation."

"Yes we do!  Tell us all about it!"

So, I did!  For about 10 minutes I told them about our vacation to Colorado, where we went, what we saw, where we ate, and where we stayed.  They seemed genuinely interested.

The truth is, it wasn't so much that they were interested in our trip.  They were interested in me, and I knew we had made a great connection as a result.

This is a phenomenon that happens sometimes when you sing to older adults.  They move from considering you …

Singing to Senior Adults: #1 - Getting your foot in the door!

Part 1 - Getting your foot in the door to sing to senior adults
Part 2 - Treat the first ttime to sing to senior adults as an audition.
Part 3 - The basic equipment you need to bring with you.
Part 4 - Giving senior adults the chance to experience emotion through music.
Part 5 - The "Do's and Don'ts" when singing to senior adults.

This blog post is "Part 1" of a series I've wanted to write for some time.  I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to email me your thoughts and questions.

As a result of a recent conversation with our local city manager (all relationships begin somewhere) I was put into contact with the coordinator of our local senior adult activity center.   I went over to introduce myself, and to volunteer to to sing.

Because I am a full-time pastor of a local church, I do not charge a fee when I sing.  Sometimes (Christmas maybe?)  I receive an honorarium.  I either keep it or donate it back to the group. However, I don't go in asking f…

I'm Back . . .

Howdy to all . . .

After much contemplation, talking with others (especially my therapist and also with my wife) I entered into a time of comtemplation to re-identify and re-evaluate the things in my life that were most important to me.  This is something I try to do on an annual basis; however, it had actually been about 3 years since I went through this process.  In reality, it is very hard work.  Although I am not as bad at doing so as I was when I am young, I sometimes get bogged down with uncertainty when I embark on a new or expanded endeavor.   Leaving a long time pastorate for a new church at age 59 compounded the fact that I had not gone through this process.  The grief of leaving has subsided, and the "picture" in my head of my perferred future was coming into better focus as a result.

It was time well spent.

Singing, playing guitar and making music has been so rooted in who I feel I'm called to be in my life.  It was good, as I went through the process of jo…

Been very busy

Well friends . . . I think my blogging time is winding down.  It's been over two months since I last blogged.  I haven't even thought about writing in a long time.  Life has been filled with many things lately, some new, some old, including successes and challenges.

Being the only pastor in a church has its demands . . . and they are numerous.  It has never been more difficult being a pastor of a church . . . and . . . it has never been as fulfilling.  I'm usually singing about 3 times a month.  That's about all I really want to sing at this time, although our annual Vacation Bible School is next week!   I'll be banging the guitar and singing each night for 4 days.

I love blogging . . . well, I think I do . . .  but so many things have changed since I first began blogging when I was at FUMC-Graevine,  Those were good days helping lead a band, and singing up to 10 times a month.  Here at my new church (and I've been here a year already) things are different as…

R.I.P. - Guy Clark

I just read that Texas songwriting legend Guy Clark just passed away at 74 years of age after a couple of years of illness.

If you are into Texas music, especially TEXAS country western music (not the current regurgitated rock-n-roll country music) then you have heard of Guy Clark, or you have heard songs he has written.

My two favorite Guy Clark songs are "Desparado Waiting for a Train," and "The Guitar."  I'm not really sure what kind of a man he was, but his bio is impressive.  A renaisance man to say the least.  I am told he lived his life with a very dry, but kind, sense of humor.  I'm told that a lot of songwriters and storytellers are like that.

Click on the video and enjoy.

God's grace still amazes me . . . as well as a good Guy Clark song . . . ><>

Thank you Crowley Senior Citizen Center

Ruby Hawes at the Crowley Senior Citizen Center sent me a picture of the CSCC gang and I went I went to sing for them on St. Patrick's Day.  A sweet group of good folks. I will enjoy singing to them each month.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Thank you Crowley Nursing Home . . .

Thanks to the folks at the Crowley Nursing Home for letting me come sing this past Thursday.  I "passed" the audition, and will begin singing their at least once a month (3rd Thursday afternoon at 2pm) beginning in May.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

RIP Merle Haggard

As many music minded people already know, the great Merle Haggard died yesterday on the day of his 79th birthday.
The "Mighty Merle" is gone.  There is a hole in the music world today. 
RIP "Hag".

Hot off the presses . . .

Hot off the presses!   A new book about singing as a way of serving . . . and you need to get a copy if you sing to children and/or senior adults as a volunteer.  You also need to get this book if you would benefit from learning more about another persons journey to discover how to serve others.  
Musical Hugs: Succeeding Through Serving, One Song At A Time.
Larry Dykstra, my good friend, music partner and Certified Therapeutic Music Entertainer (TME) mentor/trainer, is the author of this book.  I was pleased to read part of an advanced copy that he sent me by email.  Jim Newton, our good friend and TME mentor/"God Father," dropped off a copy of this book to me this morning.  Thank you Jim!
The book is about one man's dedicated and systematic journey to discover how to serve others through music.   One great take-a-way from this book is how Larry learned to value and then benefit from each of his experiences.  The last chapter, where he sums it all up, is worth the price…

Upcoming Changes . . .

I recently posted  that I was thinking about gving blogging a break, or changing the direction of what I blogged about.  Since that time, I have been doing some soul searching of sorts.  I have come to the conclusion, in the process, that I love to write, but have lacked a plan to do so.  The plan is being worked on right now, and I am pleased in the direction it seems to be going.

I know that I don't have it all figured out yet, but I do now know that I want to continue blogging. In fact, I have decided that I want to take blog writing up a notch and expand my audience, and perhaps my sphere of influence as well.  I am wondering if my writing can become a form of mentoring that someone might find of value.

So, as as result of my soul searching, and some personal reseaarch, and on the advice of others who blog more regularly than I do, I have decided that within the next month or so, I will be moving my blog to wordpress.com.  I will post my new domain name / blog address on this…

New singing gig . . .

Today our City Manager suggested I contact the Crowley Senior Citizen Center.

I've been here for almost 9 months, and I have spent far too much time in this church building.  I did't even know we had a Senior Citizen Center!
I drove over and met with Ruby, who is the coordinator there.  After a short conversation, I will be singing there this Thursday morning (March 17) at 9:30am.   I treat my first time to sing at any new venue as an audition of sorts, so I will be singing a wide variety of songs in an effort to find what kind of songs the folks there enjoy.  
I am glad I got out of the office and crossed paths with some neat people today!
God's grace still amazes me . . .  ><>

Field Notes memo books ...

This is a blog article/review about Field Notes Brand 48-page memo books. I've been using several of these memo books every day since January 1st.  I keep 4 of them with me pretty much everywhere I go, and keep them in a little homemade Traveller's Notebook that I put together with some leather I purchased on sale from a nearby Hobby Lobby store.   If you look up Traveller's Notebooks on YouTube, get ready for a ton of videos.  You can purchase them from many resources, or make them yourself.  These are quite the rage among people who travel professionaly and recreationally, and they have found their way into the lives of several professionals who I keep up with on the internet through blogs and videos.

As I mentioned already, I usually carry 4 of these memo books with me at all times.  I have one that I treat as a Common Place Book, where I keep quotes and notes from books I am reading.  The second one is a daily note/memo book where I keep notes, appointments, thoughts…

A recent trip to Arkansas . . .

My wife and I have just returned from a recent trip to Arkansas, my adopted 2nd home state.

Not sure if Arkansas will ever adopt me, but I have adopted it!

My wife and I spent a few days in our beloved Eureka Springs area, and then I attended a meeting at the Mount Sequoyah Conference and Retreat Center in Fayetteville, where I serve as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Whenever I travel anywhere with anybody, they soon realize that I love to quietly hum.  It has been pointed out to me that I hum out loud far more than I am aware of.

Really?

Yes, really.

My Mom hums as well.  She is coming in for a visit in a few days.  I bet we could hum together if giving the chance.  Humming in harmony!  It can be done!

Why is it, for some of us, that we make music whenever and wherever we can?  Humming, singing, whistling . . . I am one who could easily believe that life, in and of itself, is a song!   In my Christian tradition, life is supposed to be lived and experienced as an actual act of…

A new book that will be worth the read . . .

My friend and past musical partner, Larry Dykstra, has a new book which is currently in the print process.

Musical Hugs: Succeeding Through Serving One Song at a Time is the name of the book.  Larry writes about his making a change in his life by singing to children in hospitals.  I got to read an advance copy, and I think it's a great book for anyone determined to make a difference in the lives of other people.  In truth, I took a couple of the same steps that Larry did during my therapeutic music entertainment certification process.  Larry was one of my mentors during that time.  Anyone who sings to others will be able to relate.

This will be a "must read" book for anyone who has ever said out loud, "somebody should do something about this problem," and later realized that the "someone" who needed to act was themselves. 

More info later on where/how to get a copy.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Darn sniffles and allergies . . .

Illness prevented me from singing this week at either of my two normal gigs.  When singing around patients in nursing homes, or to residents of a retirement community, it is a good idea, and just plain common courtesy, to not leave them a gift of whatever you are sick with.  Not much of a gift if you ask me.

Wait a minute . . . .

Ahhhhh . . . choo!

Excuse me.   I hope it's just allergies!

God's grace still amazed me . . . ><>


It's all about balance, balance, and balance . . .

Greetings everyone and a Happy Belated New Year!
Question: Why have people already stopped wishing each other a Happy New Year?  There are over 10 plus months left in the year.  I could use some well wishes!  And I figure others can use them from me as well.
You might wonder why I posted a picture of myself (taken on my iPhone . . . ain't I a geek?) holding a new T-Shirt that two of our church members gave me?
Well, it's been explained to me many times that a picture speaks and thousand words.  This picture speaks that and more.  It is a great illustration about why music has not been able to be one of my main focuses since I arrived here at my new church thsi past July.
At my previous church appointment, I was the Senior Associate Pastor (1 of 5 pastors), and as such I only preached about 4-8 times a year on Sunday mornings.  I knew weeks (often months) in advance when I would be preaching.  An example, for 10 years in a row I always preached on the last Sunday of December.

Rest in peace Glenn Fry . . .

News has reached many about the recent death of Eagles founder and leader, Glenn Fry.   His death at 67 came too soon . . . too soon.

I've written before about the many folk artists who have influenced my personal and music life.  I have not written as much about rock music artists who have done the same.

The Eagles are surely an influence on my life and music.  As a teenager and young adult in the 1970's, the Eagles were so often on the charts, and their songs were the songs that we sang and played.  At the forefront as founder and leader . . . was Glenn Fry.   He was not the best singer.  No, that was Don Henley.  He wasn't the best guitarist.  No, that was Bernie Leadon, and Don Felder, and Joe Walsh.

Glenn was the leader.  Don Henley mentions that in commenting after Glenn's death . . . "Glenn was the one who started it all.  He was the spark plug; the man with the plan."

What Glenn also brought to the table was master song crafting, and a knowledge of po…

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a new health diagnosis . . . it's been a busy time . . .

Howdy all!

Whew!  I never truly realized that my changing churches, and becoming the ONLY pastor would take up so much of my time . . . and it has been a challenge.  But after 6 months, my schedule is getting more into a rhythm.  We have such a wonderful staff here at Crowley. They have been a blessing to me, as have been the members and friends of my new church home.

All in all, my job has pretty much completely changed from when I was at Grapevine.  Not quite a "180", but almost.  I have a lot more administrative and leadership responsiblilities.

Where has music and "Rick's Songbag" been in all this?  Still active, but not as much as in past years.  I am singing at an area retirment home, and at an area nursing home.  There appears to be an opportunity to soon sing at another local nursing home, but that is not quite a done deal.  Singing at these three venues will max out the available time I have to do so.  I sing for our preschool chapel every week that I…