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Getting nursing home gigs

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Stilly River Sage 21 Aug 19 - 12:25 PM
Barbara Shaw 15 Apr 09 - 10:16 PM
GUEST,ChillinD23 15 Apr 09 - 09:23 PM
Michael Harrison 27 Nov 08 - 10:20 PM
Genie 26 Nov 08 - 10:50 PM
Michael Harrison 26 Nov 08 - 10:28 PM
Genie 26 Nov 08 - 07:23 PM
Mark Ross 10 Nov 08 - 07:40 PM
Genie 10 Nov 08 - 01:48 PM
Genie 10 Nov 08 - 01:32 PM
Beer 18 Oct 03 - 09:56 PM
GUEST,Amy 18 Oct 03 - 02:38 AM
Genie 15 Feb 03 - 05:37 AM
Marion 13 Feb 03 - 06:20 PM
Marion 15 Oct 02 - 07:00 PM
Genie 15 Oct 02 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,Dana in Denver 15 Oct 02 - 01:43 PM
Genie 15 Oct 02 - 12:45 PM
Marion 15 Oct 02 - 11:42 AM
Genie 15 Oct 02 - 02:50 AM
Marion 15 Oct 02 - 01:13 AM
GUEST,Dana in Denver 15 Oct 02 - 12:27 AM
53 14 Oct 02 - 06:16 PM
Genie 13 Oct 02 - 10:35 PM
Marion 13 Oct 02 - 03:43 PM
Genie 03 Oct 02 - 09:32 PM
Marion 03 Oct 02 - 04:09 PM
wysiwyg 03 Oct 02 - 03:21 PM
Genie 03 Oct 02 - 03:12 PM
Marion 02 Oct 02 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Marion 27 Sep 02 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,Marion 18 Sep 02 - 02:53 PM
Genie 17 Sep 02 - 05:23 PM
Marion 17 Sep 02 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,Marion 29 Aug 02 - 06:10 PM
Ferrara 24 Aug 02 - 06:54 PM
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Ferrara 22 Aug 02 - 02:58 AM
GUEST,Genie 22 Aug 02 - 02:20 AM
Marion 20 Aug 02 - 07:11 PM
Genie 16 Aug 02 - 04:06 AM
Genie 15 Aug 02 - 09:01 PM
GUEST,Marion 15 Aug 02 - 07:54 PM
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GUEST,Nobby 14 Aug 02 - 12:18 PM
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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 Aug 19 - 12:25 PM

This article suggests other performance options. Whether free or paid, its a direction to explore. Because I expect this to be a non-durable link, and since they aren't going to go looking to see where it may be posted, I am posting the content here for future reference.

“It’s in His Heart” Student Volunteer Plays for Patients
August 16th, 2019

While some musicians dream of playing at Carnegie Hall or the Grand Ole Opry, Fort Worth teenager Jo Jo Liu prefers a smaller, more personal audience.

The incoming senior at L.D. Bell High School has performed one day a week this summer in the lobby of the JPS Health Network Oncology and Infusion Center, hoping to bring a little bit of peace and serenity to patients awaiting their treatments. He wasn’t playing for school credit or to round out his college admissions applications. He wasn’t even playing for applause. Liu just thought some music in their day would make things brighter for cancer patients.

“Music is a gift in my life, it’s what I have to give,” Liu said. “But there is value in serving people through music.”

The 17-year-old Senior Volunteer wasn’t sure how he’d be received when he began his residency at the health network. But his reservations were quickly forgotten when he saw how moved people were by his music. When he played Tuesday, Liu started off with some hymns that captured the attention of people in the lobby and even brought some patients to tears. Later, he took requests for Marvin Gaye and Kenny G songs. As patients heard their names called for their appointments, they passed Jo Jo to tell him how much they appreciated his efforts.

“Your playing is beautiful,” one patient said. A few minutes later, another said “I want to thank you for doing this. It means so much that you give your time for us.”

Kim Pinter, Manager of Volunteer Services at JPS said there are many different ways to help patients. She was excited when Liu offered to play music for them.

“It’s in his heart,” Pinter said. “He’s here for the right reasons and we’re so excited to have him. Patients and team members have really responded to him in an amazing way.”

Patient access representative Diana Garza has had a front row seat for Jo Jo’s performances. She sits just inside the Oncology and Infusion Center door, checking people in as they arrive.

“He had patients crying tears of joy,” Garza said. “It was so beautiful that I almost started crying, too. I think the patients and their families really appreciate the music because sometimes it is so quiet in here. It’s something to make them feel better and take their minds off their troubles.”

Liu, who will be a senior in high school in the fall, said he didn’t choose to play his instrument at JPS to further his musical aspirations. He did it because he has been considering a career in the medical field someday.

“Music is mostly a hobby for me now,” Liu said, mentioning that he stopped performing with his school band and, besides his JPS performances, the most likely place for people to find him playing is at his church. “I just want to play where I feel I can make a difference with my music.”

While summer vacation has come to an end and Jo Jo’s weekdays will be filled with class instead of music, he’s not quite ready to give up his passion for playing to patients. He said he hopes to switch up his schedule and spend Saturdays this fall performing for patients at the JPS Main Campus. Pinter said Liu will likely bring a second instrument during his encore performance. He also plays the guitar, so she’s asked him to strum a few tunes for his second act.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 10:16 PM

Frank and I play for free at the nursing homes of friends and family, and we receive payment at others that ask us to play. Most of the songs we do are old folk and bluegrass classics which many residents have never heard before, but which are surprisingly well-received. In fact, the residents (and staff) like this variation from their usual entertainment. Music is truly universal.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,ChillinD23
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 09:23 PM

I wanted to thank EVERYONE here , Genie, Marion, everyone for being so helpful by contributing to this forum. I am an alto sax player and am just beginning the journey of acquiring gigs in this "circuit" if you will. Many of the musicians in my area do not like competition from musicians that play the same instrument as them so I am looking into this as I do need money and it is a wonderful service to provide for the elderly as well. If anyone is interested, I have a video of my playing up on youtube.

And yes, I do realize I will have to "tone it down" in terms of the jazzy-ness and bebop elements to more recognizable standards and sing-alongs. Thanks everyone!


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 10:20 PM

Genie - yes, the A/D switches are a real problem and will probably continue to be so. There is one money problem, however, that had to be dealt with by me alone - the bottom line.

I usually approach a facility asking for one-half of my regular corporate rate, which most of the rehab, A/L and memory units simply cannot (or will not) afford. Prior to a few weeks ago I simply employed a "bottom line" and would turn down any work that did not pay at least that amount; however, during this last election period I found myself chastising the republican politicians for not wanting to do anything to help "the public sector" unless they could make a profit from it.

I still believe that most of them feel that way, but it caused me to have to take a look at myself as well because the folks who reside in those rehab, memory and A/L units really like for me to come and play for them. There's no comparing what I do to saving New Orleans post Katrina, or anything like that, but, I decided to go in as usual but accept any fee they will afford me - not for myself, not for the corporation, but for the folks who deserve to have some fun in their lives. It won't set the world on fire but it is one small musician giving something back to the folks despite the corporation trying to suck them dry. Hang in there Genie, give those A/D's hell and keep singing. Cheers,.............mwh


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 10:50 PM

So right, Michael.

And, sad to say, my experience is that in general the ones who can/will offer the least - both in terms of money and in terms of schedule flexibility - are the ones who take a booking the least seriously.   They are the most likely, when a new activity director or manager comes on board, to just cancel or disregard all the bookings previously made (sometimes without bothering to notify people of the cancellations).   
It seems to be an example of your perceived value being a function of how high or low your price is.
It's very frustrating, when I try to bend to accommodate clients' budgtary boundaries, to find that flexibility 'rewarded' by my services being devalued.

Still, doing music for the frail elderly or cognitively-impaired people can be very rewarding in and of itself.   If I didn't need the income, I'd be inclined to do a lot of this music gratis.
Part of me would say don't do it, because you'd be offering unfair competition for other musicians who do need the income. But I do all sorts of jams and sing-alongs and open mics (not to mention my church choir) without pay, so I can understand those who do provide music to various places as volunteers.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 10:28 PM

Genie is mostly correct - budgets for senior facilities keep getting slashed further and further. I perform at quite a few senior facilities and it just breaks my heart because the "memory" units and most of the "assisted living" units are the ones that need the music the most, yet, they pay the least. Many of the "independent" facilities don't really need entertainers to come in because the residents can go out themselves (in many cases) whenever they want; however, the "memory" and "A/L" folk are basically locked in and are stuck with whatever entertainment is found for them. It seems that the lower the cognition of the residents equates to the amount of expenses the corporations will afford for entertainment and social functions. Cheers,...................mwh


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 07:23 PM

Don't forget to look under "Retirement Home," "Senior Center," and "Adult Day Care" as well.
Those places usually pay for entertainment as well, but most of them are not in the "Nursing and Rehab. Centers" or "Assisted Living."

Of course, the repertoire you use for the higher-functioning groups (e.g. Independent Living or Senior Centers) will probably be quite a bit different (and probably musically more satisfying) than what you would do for a nursing home or memory care unit.   

You probably can make a living at it if you approach it as a business, but, as with most every other aspect of the economy these days, entertainment budgets for senior facilities keep getting slashed further and further.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Mark Ross
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 07:40 PM

I just started calling every nursing home and assisted living facility in the Yellow Pages. Over the next few months I've already gotten four paid bookings, not for a lot of money, but if I can put together enough of them, may be I can actually make a living doing this........ dunno I've only been working at it for 41 years.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 01:48 PM

Marion, back to the original focus of this thread, I thought I'd mention that internet sites like YouTube, FaceBook, and even other just-plain audio/video upload and download sites can be a great boon to getting bookings.

I am finding that more and more activity directors are wanting some sort of "audition" before hiring a new person. But, as I've illustrated in this or other related threads, doing in-person auditions for potentially one-time gigs that pay under $100 a pop is a real losing proposition.   (For one thing, the AD you auditioned for may be gone the next month, leaving you back to square one. Or the budget can be slashed, the facility sold to a new owner, etc. And if you do one audition and get one paid gig out of it, you've basically done two gigs for the price of one.   Unless the "audition" is for an ongoing, regular booking, with a contract, I'd advise against it.)

Some ADs say they're fine with a CD or tape, but it can get expensive making and sending those out too.   But if you have a good audio or video file, it's easy to make it available online now and send people the link.   If you have your own website, that's even better, but YouTube and some other sites are free.

I've found it easy to make decent music videos of some of my gigs using my MacBook with the built-in camera and mic. Then I can make shorter clips from those and send them to people as video files (e.g. Windows Media) or post them online.   

Ain't technology wunnerful!?


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 01:32 PM

Amy, I really do appreciate your perspective as an AD.   I know that budgets are often very tight, and most places can't afford to pay more than one entertainer a week.

I do run into ADs who choose to use only volunteers, and in truth, SOME volunteers are top-notch musicians. (E.g., I know some excellent bluegrass groups and players who play for nursing homes as volunteers. Then there's the wonderful Boeing Choir in the Seattle area, who perform as amateurs despite being very high "professional quality.")   But there are two problems with relying on volunteers:
1) Sometimes people who volunteer don't see the booking as a commitment in the same, serious way as they would a paid gig.    I'm told volunteers are "no-shows" far more often than paid performers are.
2) Few entertainers can afford to do a LOT of unpaid gigs.   Hence, it's hard to book all the desired spots with volunteer entertainers, especially high-quality ones.   
(If you do a gig for "business," you can write off over 40 cents per mile for travel, for example. If it's as for "charity," your mileage deduction is only about 15 cents per, and if it's as a "hobby, you can't write off any expenses at all.)


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Beer
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 09:56 PM

Hi Marion;
   Great thread.
Worked in a Psychiatric setting for 35 years and in that time I was responsible for providing entertainment to approxmately 1000 patients (residents). This I did for 15 years before moving to a different department. I, like many, went out and did the club scenes looking for people who would give up a few hours of their time to come and entertain. Many musicians, before they would perform would say that they were nervous. I would say, "Yep!! you should be". Then I would look them in the eye and tell them the following. " If you can play before this audience then you will have played before one of the toughest and most "HONEST".
I am now retired and (55)entertain in my community nursing home with an accordian player, fiddler and another guitarest. We don't charge because we do it for "the love of it". A few weeks back I overheard the new person in charge saying to a very young musician (who was a guest,her brother.) not to play any sad songs because the folks didn't like sad songs. Well, when it came to my turn,I sang songs such as, A Prisoners Farwell, A Mother's Love Is a Blessing,Old Shep,The First Fall of Snow and so on. When I was finished she couldn't beleive the round of applause I received. I then took her aside and explained that these songs were number one hits for them. Yes , sad but songs of their youths. and times which should not be erased but brought back to memory. I don't think she understood. What the hell, when I'm old (not to far of) Please bring me some one who can sing Bob Dylan, John Prine, Gordon Lightfoot, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Massengill, Penny Lang, Tom Paxton and so on. If they don't know any of their songs then fuck off, because I will be at the age where I really don't give a shit and want to keep abrest with new musice.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Amy
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 02:38 AM

I am an Activity Director and have been one at both for profit and non-profit. I have also worked at a nursing home. It is true that we do get a budget-- however, that does not mean we can go hog wild booking many entertainers. Budgets vary from place to place, however, we have to think about-- equipment for exercise, food and decorations for parties, art supplies, resources-- I even worked at one place that I had to pay (out of my budget)paper for my Newsletters and ink for my computer. So, yes we do get a budget-- but most (here in the NW) entertainers charge 50 at most 65 unless it is for a special event-- and that means I can usually book 3, sometimes 4 entertainers a month. Entertainment is usually the most expensive part of my budget-- we really don't get huge budgets-- like some like to think! I sing myself and try to have a sing-a-long twice a month. However-- I like to try new performers-- and I sometimes question if a performer wants to volunteer or perform for very little-- I want my residents to have the best-- and the best are getting paid.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 05:37 AM

Marion, I had the same reaction the first couple dozen times an A D handed me cash right in front of the residents right after I played and sang for them. Nobody else (nurses, cooks, aides, etc.) gets paid for their services right after they provide them, and I do think it may detract from the beeeenefits the residents derive from the music. While I never pretend to be doing my music as a volunteer, I think that being handed cash right after I finish singing sort of says to the residents, "Don't forget, folks, she only comes to see you because we pay her."

I do think they should at least put the money into an envelope and hand you the envelope.

That said, though, I've got to admit that this practice is so common that I'm hardly fazed by it any more. (At least it keeps me from having to spend 15 minutes after my program tracking down someone to pay me.) And residents in general seem to be quite accustomed to seeing their entertainers paid by the A D.

If it does bother you, though, I see no harm in asking the A. D. to pay you outside the room or at least keep the money in an envelope.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 13 Feb 03 - 06:20 PM

New silly question: at the end of my gig yesterday (which went very well, and they've already booked me again), as the AD came up to thank me, she gave me a handful of cash, right in front of the audience when their attention was still focused up front (i.e., not as people were milling about and leaving).

Am I overreacting, or was this a little uncouth? I found this embarrassing, and would have much preferred that she pay me privately, or at least with an envelope or something. I'm tempted to ask her to not do the same thing next time. But maybe it's not wise to criticize the hand that pays you in cash on the spot, no matter how inappropriate its timing.

What do you think?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 07:00 PM

Dana, what's a Peace Choir?

Genie, I had also thought about starting a new thread, but I suspect that we've pretty much said all there is to say already, unless Night Owl wants to join in.

I know that the risks I mentioned exist whether or not the activity is labelled therapy, and that you personally are better able to avoid them than the average person. My concern here was not for the actual risks but the question of liability. A musician entertaining an audience member does not have the same responsibilities as a health care professional treating a patient. I think I'm being influenced here by my training as a Home Support Worker, where it was impressed on us that when working in that capacity our responsibilities and limits are different from those of a random friendly visitor. Also, I have a long bizarre story of my own, in which an autistic man in my care put both of our lives in danger because of his obsession with music.

But hopefully the fact that many facilities do hire non-licenced therapists means that it's OK, or at least that it's the facility's mistake if it's not OK. If this only happened once I would want to know if the AD also thought they speak Italian in Mexico, but I guess there's strength in numbers.

You said, "Sorry to leave this kinda up in the air. -- I have to go do music at an assisted living residence and a convalescent center." Cool... I was out this afternoon too, playing fiddle at the local nursing homes. I was volunteering (I know, I know, but this is my hometown and I don't think it'll compromise my big city career girl status) and I noticed that the AD in one place made notes on who attended. Now, on July 28 and 29 you told me that volunteering is a donation to the facility rather than the residents, and I doubted this because I was finding people sitting around doing nothing when I arrived and after I left. But now the fact that notes were being made suggests that my free show was actually "counted" by the home as part of their programming. When will I learn... Genie is always right!

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 03:31 PM

I'm back, for a few minutes. It seems to me that the debate over the legalities and ethics of calling your work "music therapy" if you are not licensed or certified as a "Msusic Therapist" should have its own thread. It's kind of a side track for this thread -- connected, but the discussion can become somewhat tangential.

Re the topic of this thread, let's just say that many (most?) nursing and convalescent homes do not hire only licensed/certified music therapists to do musical programs or one-to-ones, even when those activities are "prescribed" for the resident(s) by the therapy/care team in the care conferences. Sometimes they use volunteers who are very much untrained in that area.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Dana in Denver
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 01:43 PM

Thanks for the info! I'm a certified hypnotherapist by trade and I just love to sing and connect with children and elders. My husband and I teach a kids Peace Choir at our kids elementary school and we have over 300 kids involved in it! We sometimes perform at local nursing homes and the residents love to hear the children sing~

I am thinking about begining with us as a duo (Dave on guitar, my voice) and working from there. Will keep ya'll posted!
Warmly,
Dana


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 12:45 PM

related thread:   
neurobiology and music


 

"...I wonder about the legalities of calling your work therapy...." 
- Well, the states I work in seem to allow activity directors and recreation
therapy directors to count memory-stimulation music groups, one-to-one
room music visits, rhythm instrument groups, etc., as "music therapy." 
I don't use that term for all sing-alongs or strolling music I do,
and I certainly don't call it that when I'm playing for happy hour. 
I don't use the term for what I do unless the rec. tx director hires
me for an activity that he or she has already designated as "music therapy."

As for folks dancing while I'm playing and singing, that is usually
under the control of the facility staff, and they have liability insurance
partly to cover just such things.  (Usually they err in the direction
of caution -- keeping ambulatory residents in wheelchairs, e.g., because
they might fall while walking.)

If I am left on my own to do a group activity -- a situration I avoid
for groups of folks with various kinds of dementia and/or physical frailty
-- I don't invite folks to get up and dance.  (I often invite them
to move --e.g., tap their feet or clap along -- in their chairs.

The points that your RMT friend bring up are valid, but I don't see how calling something "entertaiment" or just "music" would keep those dangers from being present. Keep in mind
that residents in nursing homes have many kinds of stimuli and activities
as part of their "activities" or "recreation therapy" program which have
the same potential hazards.  Activity directors and/or  their
assistants and sometimes CNAs often conduct exercise classes.  Facilities
hiring licensed PT/OT people for all these activities is becoming rarer. 
I think the key is to work under the auspices and guidance of the staff
who are trained in those areas.  (In my case, I am not untrained
in matters having to do with ergonomics [I've taught courses where that
was part of the content], the psychology and physiology of emotions, although
the licensed music therapists probably have more training in that area.)

Sorry to leave this kinda up in the air.  -- I have to go do music
at an assisted living residence and a convalescent center.

...to be continued ...


Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 11:42 AM

Hi Genie. I am convinced that you don't need to be a licensed music therapist to use music as therapy - in fact you don't even need to be a musician for some ways of doing it. But since the term music therapy has a specific meaning in caregiving jargon which is more than the sum of its parts, I think we in the business have to use it more carefully than, say, people sharing stories in the Music Therapy - The Original thread.

I think music therapy has far less potential for harm than prescribing drugs, or counselling, but it has some potential for harm, and I wonder about the legalities of calling your work therapy.

For an extreme example, breaking a hip can have life-threatening complications for an elderly person (but I'm just passing on what I've been taught, that's not formal medical advice ;)). Suppose, God forbid, that someone fell down while dancing to your music and died as a result. Could it not be said that she died while being treated by a therapist who happened to not be qualified for the job? Couldn't that put you, or the facility that hired you, into a difficult situation?

I once talked to an RMT about non-licensed people doing music therapy. She agreed that many institutions will hire someone with that job title who have no credentials, but it wasn't a practice she approved of. She didn't say anything about the legalities of it, but of the potential for harm. When I asked what harm could come of it, she gave me two examples:

1. While music can raise a person's pain threshold, and doing so is a primary use of music therapy, it can be dangerous because if a person is playing along in a euphoric state they might be hurting their joints through improper technique without feeling it. RMTs are trained in helping people to play instruments in an ergonomic way.

2. If a person is having an intense emotional experience in a music therapy session, a person with no psychological training may not be able to handle or respond appropriately to all the feelings that come up.

I'm going to PM Night Owl and ask for her input here. I'd like to know better what the legalities of calling myself a therapist are.

I have also contemplated becoming an RMT, but I'm leaning against it. It would mean four more years of university to be able to do what I can (in my opinion) mostly do already. I think that I have some vocation to help make music accessible to people with special needs but that I can do that as a volunteer and as a "side effect" of working as an entertainer.

Cheers, Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 02:50 AM

Actually, Marion, I'm not sure whether doing someone doing "music therapy"
who is not a certified/licensed music therapist constitutes "practicing
without a license" or not.   In the field of clinical/counseling
psychology or social work, there are licensed psychiatric social workers,
clinical psychologists, licensed family therapists, etc., but many people
(ministers, etc.) do "counseling" without violating the law or professional
standards.  Someone who is a licensed "music therapist" may have a
more definitive answer.  But to me the difference between "music therapy"
and "entertainment" -- in the contexts in which I do the two, overlapping,
kinds of activities -- has to do with the purpose and, to some extent,
the method.

I (and the activity directors) call it "music therapy" when the
goal is to:

 -- promote physical and/or emotional/mental healing
via the music,

 --  actively engage and stimulate the residents'
memory. general cognitive functioning and emotional responsiveness,
etc.

 --  help develop or maintain skills that will carry
over to other aspects of day to day living.

Sometimes I do this one-on-one.   (And, God! do I wish
the homes had the budget to afford the 20- to 30-minutes of one-on-one
with an individual resident!
)  This can involve singing songs
from someone's early childhood. native language, religious background,
etc., or songs that  have strong associations with other important
t imes in  their his tory.  It may also involve getting them
involved in singing along, doing rhythm accompaniment, "dancing" to the
music, or telling the stories that the music evokes.

In group sessions, my goals include getting folks to engage their memory
skills (e.g., recall memory, learning new refrains). rekindle emotions
that they may have lost touch with, laugh, move, talk with each other,
reaffirm their own competence, etc.

Programs that  are geared to entertainment may accomplish
some of the same  goals, but their main purpose is just that
-- diversion.    Often in a happy hour or when playing
background music for dinner,  there is no expectation that anyone
will even pay any attention to the lyrics I'm singing.  The goal is
primarily to sound good and make the music enjoyable.  The
songs don't have to be ones that the residents already know or that have
special significance to them.  If the AD hires Irish dancers for a
St. Patrick's party, there is no expectation that this kind of dancing
will evoke childhood memories,  directly stimulate cognitive skills,
etc.   It's something that folks enjoy, and that is important
in and of itself.

Here's an aside that may (I hope) make the point:

I have a doctorate in [life-span] developmental psychology (non-clinical)
and some post-doctoral study and employment in counseling.  I cannot
call myself a "clinical psychologist"  or "psychiatric social worker,"
or any of several other kinds of specific occupational names, since I do
not hold the relevant licenses or certificates.  But I have been
employed
as an adolescent and family counselor and mental health therapist,
under the auspices of agencies for which I worked in those capacities. 
As I see it, if the Recreation Therapy Director of a nursing home hires
me to do one-on-one music therapy   (e.g., by getting a native-born
German lady to sing the songs of the old country with me or by having me
sing special hymns to help a hospice patient  and their family deal
with impending death or by stimulating Alzheimer's patients' memories and
emotions via oldies sing-alongs), what I do is music therapy.  This
does not qualify me to do all that a music therapist might be required
to do. 
But I may be every bit as capable of doing certain kinds/aspects
of music therapy as are those who hold licences in the field.  
(If I prescribed drugs, I'd be guilty of practicing medicine without a
license.  If I told someone that their health would probably improve
if they got some exercise, avoided overeating, and tried to sleep at least
6 hours a day, I would not.  And if I told someone about the results
of medical studies, I would not. )

I don't mean to disparage those who have specialized in music therapy
and become certified.  Still, there is a phenomenon in American society
that  I find rather troubling -- namely, the piling on of time and
monetary hurdles to anyone's making a partially parallel move career-wise. 
(If I wanted to get a job as a nurses aide, despite my extensive educational
and employment backgound in the psychological and medical fields, I would
still have to take a number of hours of course work, at a considerable
expense.)  Getting certified in music therapy would cost even more
in time and money.  Usually, there is no way to "proficiency the course,"
as we used to say.     If it were simply a matter of
acquiring the important skills and knowledge and demonstrating them, personally,
I would go for certification in music therapy.  But I'm not at all
sure it would be worth the time and tuition money to enroll in formal courses. 
Some music therapists have told me that folks like me make as much money
ast they do, without the certificate.

Any other opinions, on either side, are most welcome.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 01:13 AM

Hi Dana, and it's great to see your post. I hope you'll tell us about your experiences in these threads.

There's music therapy and then there's Music Therapy. To be a Registered Music Therapist involves a university training (with a lot of psychology as well as music) and certification, and is I think necessary to take a job as an institution's music therapist*. To the best of my knowledge there are two RMTs on Mudcat: Night Owl and Musicman (not to be confused with Musicmic). If you join as a Mudcat member (it's free) you can exchange personal messages with them.

However, the phrase music therapy is often used colloquially on this thread and around Mudcat, for when amateurs or pro musicians who are not licensed therapists use music therapeutically. Genie is a great person to talk to about this, and I'm sure she'll be along soon; part of her work is unofficial music therapy, and she's a neighbour of yours as well.

I've been calling up activity directors looking for work, and the ones who have spoken to me about what they might need or actually booked me have all been interested in concert-type events, not singalongs or one-on-one. So my early impression is that it's easier to get work with a performer hat on than a therapist hat.

A good thread for you to look at is: Music therapy. Towards the top of that thread are some links regarding Music Therapy as a profession. Later, in Katlaughing's post, there are links to some good threads where people talk about their experiences making music for people with special needs. Be sure to read the thread called "Music therapy - the original".

Cheers, Marion

*One other thing - a friend of mine got a full-time job at a nursing home as a "Music Therapist" although her only formal education was the first year of piano performance program. So it is sometimes possible to be hired as a music therapist even if you aren't really one. But this is practicing medicine without a license, and I think it would have been more responsible if she had insisted that her job title be changed to Music Director.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Dana in Denver
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 12:27 AM

I just found these great posts and am thrilled to find out there are so many musicians out there actually getting *paid* to sing at nursing homes. I LOVE to sing with elders and do so on a volunteer basis 2x or more per month. I always figured if I could get paid to do what I love I would be so grateful. My question is about 'music therapy.' (forgive me if this is another post somewhere) I wonder who out there is doing music therapy and what exactly does that look like? My vision is to do 20 to 30 minutes with someone one on one just singing to and with them some beautiful music. What would one sing for music therapy? What would one charge? If there is someone doing this please feel free to answer here or email direct at drrcc@aol.com.

Thanks so much!
Dana


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: 53
Date: 14 Oct 02 - 06:16 PM

do they pay anything?


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 13 Oct 02 - 10:35 PM

Well, Marion, you might call her and ask her what kind of references she wants -- e.g., references from other (paid or unpaid) music gigs, peronal (character) refererences, or general job-perormance references (e.g., are you reliable). If she insists on evaluations from other nursing home ADs where you've played, maybe your "talk again in a month" suggestion would be the way to go.

Good luck.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 13 Oct 02 - 03:43 PM

Hmm... I've just gotten a message on my machine from someone I sent a brochure to. She says that she wants to talk more about my experiences and get some referrals from the Toronto area. This is a bit of a problem, since my first gig of this project is in a couple of weeks; my nursing home experiences have been volunteer, instrumental fiddle only, and in Ottawa and Nova Scotia.

What do you think would be the best response? I'm thinking of trying the "satisfaction guaranteed" thing, since I don't want to offer to audition. Or I could just suggest we talk again in a month when I'll have some references (I have seven gigs lined up now).

Marion

PS. Despite the sample brochure I posted above, I did not write "references and demo are available" on the first edition of my brochure, since I don't have either yet.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 03 Oct 02 - 09:32 PM

Yeah, Sooz, there's a network for one community or another. What would be nice is similar networks within each geographic area. Rita, Marion, Jerry, Mike and I can't very easily fill in for each other or serve as referral sources, since we're so far apart.

Also, just as with the Musicians' Union, there are a lot of performers who aren't connected with whatever networks exist.

I have asked some ADs if I could look thru their card file, and I have gotten some leads that way, but other ADs are reluctant to give out phone numbers without permission. (I can understand that.)

If there is an AD association in your area, they could probably help get the performers networked, too.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 03 Oct 02 - 04:09 PM

Thanks Genie. Your answer doesn't ring a bell; I guess I missed that thread.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Oct 02 - 03:21 PM

There IS a network-- someone gave a link to it on some other thread or maybe this one. Sorry I can't recall!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 03 Oct 02 - 03:12 PM

Marion, "No" can mean, "No, Nay, Never," or it can mean "You caught me in a bad mood (or at a bad time)" or "No to the hidden agenda I think you have" or "No to X" (when you are selling Y). In the case of ADs, it can (and often does) mean "I'm not booking anyone else for this month or the next few months." AD's sometimes do book for that time frame after saying that, due to cancellations, additional budget coming in for a special occasion, etc.

I don't think it's ever a bad idea to send a brochure with a cover letter to a facility even if your initial phone call has resulted in a rebuff. (Don't send more than one a year, though, without permission or unless a new AD takes over, and if specifically asked NOT to send one, DON'T.)

I thought I mentioned this in an earlier post to one of these threads:
It's hard to connect with the other entertainers since you are seldom booked for the same time period. I have met a few and exchanged cards and called them if I had to cancel and had them mention my name when they had to cancel. I would love to organize a network of entertainers who do senior facilities on a regular basis -- for referrals, sometimes to compare notes on facilities and ADs and admins, and occasionally to send a sort of petition to the facilities in the area (e.g., asking them to ask their staff and visitors to refrain from using cell phones and carrying on loud conversations during music programs, lectures, films, etc.--or trying to adopt a general policy about not cancelling longstanding bookings willy-nilly). But that takes a lot of work, and I don't know how good a response I would get from the other entertainers.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 02 Oct 02 - 04:51 PM

I'll relate some more of my ongoing adventures in telemarketing in the ongoing hope that Genie will notice my question two posts above :).

1. I usually say, "I'm calling because I'm a musician who specializes in programs for seniors. I'd like to know if you ever bring in live music to entertain, and if so, if I could send you a brochure."

One woman I spoke to simply said "No" to this, so I said, "OK, thanks anyway, have a good day," and started to hang up. As the phone was on the way back to the hook I heard her say something else, so I got back on the line, and it turned out that she booked me for a gig on the spot without my brochure.

I may have to rethink my long-held belief that telemarketers should understand that no means no.

2. Another receptionist I spoke to became kind of angry (at the home, not at me). It turned out that she herself was a semi-pro musician and had recently done a performance there for free. But when she asked to be reimbursed for her bus fare (around $4) and photocopying for the show, they had refused, saying that it was supposed to be volunteer offering. Needless to say, I'm not sending them a brochure.

(I asked her if I could take her personal number and refer work to her that I couldn't do, but she said no; she's mostly retired and only plays for ungrateful ADs who expect their own co-workers to pay for the privilege of performing.)

Marion



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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 27 Sep 02 - 05:36 PM

Genie, you're right about everything! In my calls so far I've heard the exact words "We're always looking for new entertainers" more than once. And when I tried to reach an AD who hired me before and said she'd call me for the next party, I was told that she didn't work there anymore.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 18 Sep 02 - 02:53 PM

Hi Genie. Thanks for the further info on confirmation forms (and now you've balanced out calling Rita by my name by calling me Rita :).

I'm still interested in your response to this question from above, which you may have overlooked:

"I was wondering - do you often meet other musicians who are also specialists in seniors' programs, and if so, under what circumstances do you meet them? I'd like to have friendly relations with the local competition so that we can exchange local tips (like what's the Toronto Stephanie's name?) and refer ADs to each other if we can't take a job. But unlike the club scene, it seems like one performer isn't likely to hear others' shows, nor would you see bands advertised on telephone poles."

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 05:23 PM

Marion, so glad to hear your project is coming along so well and so fast. Good on ya!

Rita, I do think confirmation forms are a good idea -- especially if you book a program while you are there in person and can get the signatures on the sheet without taking a lot of time. When you fax or mail them, sometimes people return them promptly (usually the responsible people/facilities, who need them the least), and other times they either won't be returned or you'll find that they aren't worth the paper they are written on. They are valuable as memory aids, in case either party forgets what time and date were booked and for what price. But if a facility chooses not to return the confirmation form or not to honor the oral contract, what are you gonna do?

I do use confirmation forms, when I have time, and when it's a high-demand time slot like Christmas Eve or St. Patrick's. But I have yet to devise a contract that covers what I want it to cover (e.g., they agree not to cancel me due to budget shortfall and then book someone else later for the same month; they agree to pay a cancellation fee if they cancel within two months of the gig without proper cause) yet would not be intimidating to prospective clients.

If anyone else uses contracts for this type of short, low-paying gig (e.g., for a one-time, one-hour program at a nursing or retirement home), I'd be interested in seeing the kind of contract you use and hearing how well it works.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 17 Sep 02 - 05:01 PM

Guess what? I just got a call to book my first gig (first gig of this project, not of my life)! I think this just may work...

Thanks again to all!

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 06:10 PM

Genie, I'd like to know more about how confirmation forms work. Are they something that the home sends you, or you send them, or one signs and returns to the other?

I was thinking I could make up a simple contract letter with the terms of the gig and a cancellation policy - then if I get a gig more than three weeks in advance, I would send them this letter and ask them to sign it, make a copy for themselves, and mail back to me. Make sense?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 24 Aug 02 - 06:54 PM

p.s. And, there's the matter of amplification. I really need to check it out and then be sure I am going to do enough work to justify the investment.

Rita


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 24 Aug 02 - 06:51 PM

Marion,

My brochure is purely in the imaginary stage right now. This works for me, actually, since I'm trying on various layouts and approaches, mentally.

The fall craft show season is about to be upon us, and I have made NOTHING since April (Bill is going strong though and says we'll be OK); I have a teensy part time job as manager for data entry, renewals and membership cards for the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (FSGW) and I'm struggling to keep up with it; I'm program chair for the FSGW Getaway; and I volunteered to place the ads for one of our craft shows, which I have never done before. (Good experience though, and it will help Bill's sales if the ads are good.)

And, my energy is limited.

SO, movement on the music project is slow. I'm thinking of next spring -- or maybe I should try to get some gigs for Christmas music.

I AM moving on it though. Today's project is a result of the "How Many Songs Memorized" thread. Haven't actualy seen the thread but Bill commented on it, and just-for-fun today I'm making a list of songs I know. I figure it will be helpful when and if I start doing gigs, and certainly useful at sing-around parties.

Not too many so far though, only about 230 songs. BUT, I'm only counting songs where I know most of the verses. So haven't counted something like "Till We Meet Again," where I just know the chorus. Not sure if this restriction is a good idea however. My experience is that people are very happy to hear even the chorus of a familiar song most of the time. Actually I think songs where I just know one verse should be OK, like "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen."

Bill keeps reminding me of more songs. It's fun. I guess I should look at the song lists in these threads. For example, I just remembered "Danny Boy," which is one I've known for many years. I'm sure I'd spot others. Genie, I believe Bill said you have a repertoire of close to a 1000 songs. That doesn't surprise me given the things you've said in these nursing home threads.

Anyway Marion, you are much farther down the road on this than I am.

I keep thinking I need a demo CD, but maybe not. I agree with Genie that a CD is better than an audition, but maybe I could go ahead and line up a couple of gigs by auditioning. Aaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhh! Scary! My hands will freeze and my fingerpicks will fall off and I'll make a perfect jackass of myself, I just know it!!!!

... Sorry. Just had to let it out. That's the kind of feelings that come up when I think of actually getting out there and lining up some gigs.

Rita


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 24 Aug 02 - 03:32 PM

I was wondering - do you often meet other musicians who are also specialists in seniors' programs, and if so, under what circumstances do you meet them? I'd like to have friendly relations with the local competition so that we can exchange local tips (like what's the Toronto Stephanie's name?) and refer ADs to each other if we can't take a job. But unlike the club scene, it seems like one performer isn't likely to hear others' shows, nor would you see bands advertised on telephone poles.

PS to Genie: your bullet points show up as Ys with two lines through them on my computers most of the time. The post where you said there was a computer SNAFU is the one time it did show up normally as a little circle. Just for your information.

PS to Rita: I don't think photos copy very well, and I'd like to be able to photocopy my flyers instead of having them printed. A drawing would be better, but I've been asking around and haven't found anyone who knows how to draw yet... anyway, how's your brochure coming along?

PPS to Genie and all: I've been thinking that we need a new Mudcat expression: SNAFPU, meaning "Situation normal: all folk processed up." Do you like it?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 02:58 AM

Marion, about the graphics on page 1 of your flyer, what about a good black&white photo of you? (If such a thing exists....) It's always nice to give people a recognizable image.

Rita


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Genie
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 02:20 AM

Marion, I just realized there's computer SNAFU in the post above re "sing-along." What the big dictionary gave was "sing-a¥long" -- i.e., a hyphenated word ("sing" with "along") with the second word broken into two syllables ("a¥long").


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 07:11 PM

Thanks Genie. Please see your PMs.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 16 Aug 02 - 04:06 AM

Sorry about the duplication SNAFU above, Marion. Maybe a Joe clone will fix it and delete this post, too. I meant to substitute the footnote for the parenthetical explanation.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 09:01 PM

Sure would, Marion!  *G*

Only one editorial comment:  Bill Gates's MS Word Spellchecker notwithstanding, "sing-a-long" is not a correct spelling of this word.  It can be a hyphenated word, "sing-along," or a compound word, "singalong," but it is not derived from the 3 words "sing," "a," and "long," as the Spell-checker spelling would indicate.*

(I think this widely perpetuated error started by someone looking at a dictionary entry that read "Sing-a•long."  The "•" indicates syllabication, not hyphenation, but in a small print dictionary, it looks like "Sing-a-long" if you don't look closely.  Once the error was incorporated into MS Word's Spellchecker, years ago, it spread like wildfire.  The more often it's printed that way, the more people think it's correct -- kinda like folks pronouncing "nuclear" "nucular.")

Sounds like you're all set to have a great business in doing music for seniors!

Genie

*I think this widely perpetuated error started by someone looking at a dictionary entry that read "Sing-a•long."  The "•" indicates syllabication, not hyphenation, but in a small print dictionary, it looks like "Sing-a-long" if you don't look closely.  Once the error was incorporated into MS Word's Spellchecker, years ago, it spread like wildfire.  The more often it's printed that way, the more people think it's correct -- kinda like folks pronouncing "nuclear" "nucular."


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 07:54 PM

Folks, I'd like to run my brochure by you for constructive criticism before I start printing up copies (I should note that after six long days of being in a working band I decided to launch a solo career).

So... an 8x11 sheet folded in three.

Page one:

Marion Parsons
Voice-Guitar-Violin
phone number
some graphics which I haven't decided on yet - maybe sheet music or drawing of instruments

Page two:

Marion Parsons specializes in musical programs which cater to the tastes and needs of senior citizens. These programs may take one of the following approaches:

SING-A-LONGS:
- songleading with guitar accompaniment
- material is entirely based on requests
- Marion provides large-print lyric books of well-known songs and rhythm instruments
- The tempo, pitch, and repetition of songs is aimed towards maximizing participation

PERFORMANCES:
- concert, or background for special event
- vocal, guitar, and violin selections; piano selections where piano is provided by the facility
- requests are honoured as far as possible
- songs are chosen from a wide range of genres and decades

OTHER:
- one-on-one room visits - "troubadour" approach (playing for shorter periods in many locations within a facility) - providing music for music therapy activities

page three:

Besides general programs that are appropriate at any time, Marion offers thematic programs:

-Christmas
-Valentine's Day
-St. Patrick's Day
-Christian or Jewish programs
-music for memorial services

Programs may be built around other themes on request.

pages four and five:

Sample Song List:

Sing-a-long standards
Classic popular songs
Instrumental selections
Country and folk tunes
Celtic ballads
Broadway themes
Sacred music

[and I would list six or seven sample titles in each category]

page 6

For further information or booking, please contact:

Marion Parsons phone number address email

Rates are negotiated according to the budget, location, and equipment needs of each facility. References and demo tapes are available upon request.

You'd hire me, wouldn't you ?:)

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 03:23 PM

If there are any other Ontario people following this thread, here's a site to find facilities:

Ontario Residential Care Association

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: GUEST,Nobby
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 12:18 PM

A good thread. I would have thought that looking at the age of most of the folkies out there performing most of them are on a day out from their home when you see them . a sort of care in the community.So if you get a gig in an old folks home you are playing to the current main line acts and they will simply steal any good new material you play. Either that or before you know it you have a full blown session going.


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Marion
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 04:00 PM

Rita, I'm working on my brochure too!

Here's another tip for finding facilities to call: I was looking for a "health page" in the newspaper, and I found the death notices and skimmed through them. I found half a dozen names of institutions.

I do have a paying gig once in a blue moon, but mostly I'm studying, jamming, busking, and dreaming. The reason that I'm planning on specializing in the senior's market right now is that while I hope to make my living from music, I feel a long way off from being able to play concerts as an "artist" or work as an instrumental hotshot. But maybe this way I can support myself as an entertainer while I work on becoming an artist; it's something I could learn to do in the short term, it wouldn't be smoky or sleazy, and it would provide me with some business/sound gear acumen. Although many of the songs that are seniors' favourites aren't really to my taste, some are, and I wouldn't mind singing the others if I see how much they are enjoyed.

Oh, and about volunteering vs. pay; for sure it is possible to get hired because of, or in spite of, playing for free. My friends' band got a monthly paying gig in a nursing home after volunteering there once the staff saw how much the residents loved them. However, I'm inclined to believe Genie and Mike when they say that volunteering is more likely to hurt than help your chances. My problem is that in the one nursing home where I've been volunteering regularly, the residents won't let me leave unless I promise to come back. I guess I have to keep volunteering there the rest of my life.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 04:06 PM

"I believe I couldn't sell food to someone who hadn't eaten in a week."

Yes, I'm turning my mind now to a flyer and letter. Also am looking for venues where I can try my wings, so to speak -- i.e. get a bit of experience and some "callouses" on my nerves.

Rita


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Genie
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 08:42 PM

Thanks for correcting that, Rita.
Actually, I knew that, and I was, in fact, thinking of you and your situation as I wrote the post. Somehow, when I entered the salutation, my brain short-circuited (like when my dad calls me by both my sisters' names before he finally gets it right).

I understand the hating to look for work. I hate "selling" so much that I believe I couldn't sell food to someone who hadn't eaten in a week. But it does get easier, the more you make yourself do it. Also, this kind of terror is a good reason to use a printed flyer and letter to introduce yourself and say you'd like to be hired. You can take your time composing it, and the recipient can't see your fear the way they might in person.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
From: Ferrara
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 06:09 PM

Umm ... Genie ... that last post about feeling sheer terror et cetera came from Rita, not Marion.

Marion sounds as if she's doing various gigs these days and just looking into nursing homes as an additional venue, is this right Marion?

I haven't done gigs, except for Folklore Society of Greater Washington events and festivals, in a couple of years. I am feeling some serious anxiety about trying to go looking for work, as compared and contrasted with having it drop into my lap so to speak the way it did two years ago. :-)

BTW I was always the same way back when computer programming was my day job. I hated looking for work, and usually found jobs by word of mouth. So this is a definite challenge for me.

Rita


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