Mudcat Café message #756219 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49818   Message #756219
Posted By: Marion
29-Jul-02 - 03:25 AM
Thread Name: Getting nursing home gigs
Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
First of all, many thanks to Genie and Musicmic - I'm learning a lot from this thread and the day job thread.

Some more thoughts:

1. I see your point, Mike, about being consistent and not giving away what I want to sell, but it creates a bit of a dilemma as I'm halfway between amateur and pro - I want to play for money, but I'm willing to play for free. I've volunteered as a musician at nursing homes dozens of times, and found it very fulfilling. There's one home now where I go once or twice a month as a volunteer. I'd hate to have to stop doing that in order to pursue the professional option.

2. At the same time, my volunteer gigs are quite different from what I would expect a paying gig to be - much more on my own terms. I tell the home when I want to come, I don't dress up, I only bring my fiddle, and I wander from floor to floor playing maybe 20 minutes at a spot, and I don't have to talk unless people talk to me. Indoor busking, basically. The only costs to me are time and bus fare, and it's worth it to me to see how much people enjoy the music.

However, I imagine that it'll be different when I look for work with my band - we'll have to worry about being there on time, and dress up, and maybe buy sound equipment, and get around on crowded buses with more than one instrument, and take taxis if we need to bring a PA, and rehearse with each other, and book gig times that meet all our schedules as well as the homes', and prepare enough material to play a long time in one location, and talk between songs, and so on. It's all these extra headaches that I want to be compensated for - not the music itself.

3. I've had one paying gig at a nursing home party; and it's a little strange how I got the gig. There is another nursing home in my neighbourhood where I've been trying to volunteer... I've left them half a dozen messages in as many months, and they never call me back. However, an aide (not involved in activity planning) who works there brought my number to a different home she also works at and they called me up and offered me a paying gig, with no evidence of what I can do other than my phone message that "I'm a fiddler...". So maybe volunteering doesn't lead to gigs, but unsuccessfully trying to volunteer does...:)

4. At that party gig I played, there happened to be a girl volunteering (in the kitchen) who also played fiddle, so she borrowed my fiddle and played for a while too. In terms of musical skill, she totally kicked my butt (although I think I was better at choosing material that the audience liked). I was a little embarrassed at first that I was getting paid and she wasn't, till I reflected that this didn't have anything to do with our skill: it was because she presented herself as a volunteer and I presented myself as a professional.

Anyway, what I've learned from this is that there is money available and if I declare myself a professional then I've got as much of a shot at it as anybody - but I think waiting for the next call out of the blue isn't a good plan.

5. There's a hospital where I was going frequently to visit somebody, and I chatted with a band that was volunteering there. I suggested that I'd sit in with them on my next visit, and they said that I'd be welcome musically, I'd have to be properly registered as a hospital volunteer to play a tune with them, which meant getting a tuberculosis test, getting a couple of people to fill in reference forms, and attending a 4 hour orientation session. Sorry... too many hoops to jump through to play for free.