Mudcat Café message #756143 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49818   Message #756143
Posted By: Genie
28-Jul-02 - 10:04 PM
Thread Name: Getting nursing home gigs
Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
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.