Mudcat Café message #753954 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49818   Message #753954
Posted By: Genie
24-Jul-02 - 04:34 PM
Thread Name: Getting nursing home gigs
Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
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.