Mudcat Café message #756206 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49818   Message #756206
Posted By: Genie
29-Jul-02 - 02:48 AM
Thread Name: Getting nursing home gigs
Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
Jerry R, just to be clear, I'm not criticizing you, or anyone, for singing anywhere for free if it's not your primary profession and/or if there's a gig that you just plain want to do, for whatever reason, with no thought of compensation.  As Mike said, though, it's problematic to charge one school and not another or one nursing home and not another.  It seems we're all repeating ourselves--probably of necessity--to make sure our points have been communicated clearly.

I think we're in agreement that doing music as a professional for nursing homes is quite legitimate; that musicians deserve to be paid just like other artisans, professionals, workers; and that volunteering your time/service where it's needed is fine.  (I should add that most of the senior facilities where I play do use a lot of volunteer musicians --e.g., school and church choruses, retired musicians, and amateur musicians, as well as professional musicians who don't specialize in music for old folks--in addition to the musicians paid from their activities budget.  That is to say that folks who volunteer are not necessarily taking paid work away from those of us who charge; activities budgets are limited, and most places would like to have more activities than their budget allows.)

Nevertheless, the attitude that musicians should "play" for the love of it alone still persists--especially when it comes to nursing homes.  It's not unusual for family members who are present for my programs in nursing homes to gush at me, "I think it's such a wonderful thing that you're doing!"--with the possible/probable subtext "I'm assuming you're doing this as a volunteer."  (Do they say that to the nurses or doctors who treat the elderly?)  And, as Mike's bridge parable illustrates, the more people there are who are willing to provide a "service" free, the harder it is to make a living at it.  I think that's a reality musicians will always be up against, because -- unlike scrubbing toilets -- it's work that a lot of folks will do, and do well, for nothing.