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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 that the songs you need are in your notebook.  Over the course of time, you will memorize songs.  It's not hard.

3) Engage the audience.  It's all about the performance.  The nature of the performance is often the therapeutic element.  You are providing the audience a chance to have a bit of a respite from life, to forget about their pain or loneliness for a few moments.

4) Verbally invite them to sing with you!   You will be surprised how many of them will sing with you, especially old Elvis songs or Gospel songs.


Don'ts . . .

1) Don't "flake" out.  If you have to cancel or can't make it, call and let your contact know ASAP.  Program and Life Enrichment Directors at nursing homes know that people sometimes have to cancel for various appropriate reasons.

2) Don't use a sound system, unless your voice needs it, or only if the Director asks you to use one.   My voice naturally carries well.  Most Dining or Activity Rooms are no problem for me.  I usually play a jumbo style guitar that projects well, even when strummed softly.  If you use a sound system, speak and sing with a normal voice.  If I sing with a mic, I will usually sing a bit softer than normal.

3) Don't react or allow your feelings to be hurt.  In a nursing home setting, their will be intercom announcements while you sing.  Audience members will talk to each other.  People will often be coming and going.  Rehab staff will come and take people to rehab.  A doctor will arrive and need to see a patient.   Just keep singing.  You are not there for you . . . you are there for the people you sing to.  It all usually works out.  If you have ever sung in a bar, or during a meal for a large group, you understand.

What Do's and Don'ts are on your list?  Let me know!

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

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Would you life to share share about your favorite musical instrument?

What is your favorite guitar or other musical instrument?  Please let me know.  I'd like to interview you about your relationship with your favorite instrument.

I am interested in talking with, and getting to know, everyday people who make music.  That's the kind of person I am.  I'm an everyday kind of guy, and I love to sing and play guitar for everyday people. 

Although I have too many guitars, several ukes, a couple of old banjo's, a bunch of harmonicas and several Native American flutes, I am interested in stories about other instruments as well.  I have it in my mind that this blog will probably feature more stories about guitars and singer-songwriters.  However, I am open to stories about people and their love for other instruments.  So, if you play the accordion, piano, pennywhistle, drums . . . or can crack your knuckles in time to music . . . I want to hear your story.

All inquiries from interested, or from the curious as well, can be sent to revrickmang@gm…