Retirement Home Concerts

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Grace said: Jun 29, 2008
 Violin
110 posts

I have finally scheduled my first ever retirement home concert/visit for my students in a few weeks. I had never done this myself when I was growing up in my teacher’s Suzuki program, but I have always thought it is a wonderful idea.

Since it is summer a lot of families are busy, and the group will be small (5 kids). But I figure that’s ok for the first time. The kids are mostly Book 1 & 2 so I was planning to have them play some Book 1 songs together and have a few solos.

Any tips from veterans? I’m assuming I should encourage the kids to walk around and visit afterwards.

Connie Sunday said: Jun 30, 2008
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

You need to visit the place first and make sure it’s clean. Some retirement homes are fine, many are ambulatory, but some are really awful places. You don’t want little children running into smells or situations where they might encounter something frightening or even dangerous.

Sometimes residents of nursing homes can be suffering from dementia, some residents may have very angry behaviors, and you need to not assume that all is well. It is a wonderful idea, and it’s usually fine, but you have to be careful.

As far as going around afterwards to visit, I’d keep that in one common room, not in all the residents’ rooms. Again, you may not know what you’re going to encounter.

I know this because before I went back to university I worked as an activity leader in several nursing homes; one was ambulatory and first rate in every respect, two others were being investigated by the authorities. In one, the evening staff were stealing everything the residents owned. I found a big bag of stolen belongings in a utility closet.

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Sara said: Jun 30, 2008
 Violin
191 posts

It is a good idea.
I have played in rest homes before and when I first started playing there it was an awkward experience. Some residents yelled out during my playing, others sang along. others sat there and pleasantly listened.
Before I would take students I would make sure they had experience in playing in front of people in recitals and I would also talk to them and prepare them beforehand that people at a rest home might not behave or act as one would expect.
If they are not comfortable in talking to them afterwards the first few tiems it’s ok. If you do, then in time maybe sooner than later they will follow your lead but don’t make them feel like they have to.

Good luck!

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Grace said: Jun 30, 2008
 Violin
110 posts

Thanks for the replies. Those are such sad, but true issues about both elder abuse and dementia. I am scheduled to play by myself next week so I can check it out. It is more a retirement home than a nursing home as the residents are still fairly active/independent and live in their own apartments, but have a common dining hall.

Janet Melnicoff said: Jul 1, 2008
Janet Melnicoff Brown
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
5 posts

I have taken students to retirement homes many times, and it has been a positive experience. I did visit the homes before bringing the children, and have established a tradition of playing at some of them, so there are no surprises about what we might encounter. The audiences are very appreciative, and the children leave with a great sense of accomplishment.
It’s nice to introduce the children, and say how old they are. The residents usually want to know that. They talk to the children afterwards in the room where we perform.

I have had a couple of less positive experiences, but on the whole it has been a good thing.

said: Jul 1, 2008
 32 posts

I played in nursing homes as a child—my super-Suzuki-mother brought me to share music with others—and I had some frightening but mostly rewarding experiences. Now I have all of my student recitals at a retirement facility that is similar to the one that you are describing, keroppi, and it has been a wonderful experience every time (I think we have had over 20 recitals there). I think it is a great thing for the children to feel that they are sharing their beautiful music with their community, especially when it is in a safe and comfortable environment for them. We also do concerts in the lobby of the local children’s hospital every Christmas, which is always a special time. Good for you for checking it out ahead of time and going for it!

Lynn said: Jul 2, 2008
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

I give two hour-long studio recitals a year, and at least one of them is in a retirement home. I use an accompanist, so one of the things I check out beforehand, if it’s a place I’ve not been, is whether there is a piano, and what kind of condition it’s in, how recently it’s been tuned, etc. I also look at the size of the space—because it’s a studio recital, the families all come too, so I need to make sure there is room for a good sized audience! Set-up usually involves rearranging furniture, so I have parents prepared to do that, both before the recital, and then straightening up afterwards. Something you might want to look into beforehand with the home. If your recital is on a weekend, they frequently are working with a skeleton staff, who really appreciate not having extra work to do! Parents all bring cookies, cheese trays, drinks, etc. for a reception afterwards, which everyone is invited to.

Years ago, I overheard a mother talking with her 4yo daughter about how we were going to go play our violins for all the grandmas and the grandpas. I loved that description—so I adopted it! ‘:D’

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