Memory Care Outing

Bill Sheehan

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Yesterday I got to perform solo in the memory care unit of one of our local retirement facilities. I did a single set of maybe 40 minutes duration.

It was a lot of fun, and the residents (numbering around twenty or so) seemed to enjoy it. Songs included "King of the Road", "I'll See You In My Dreams", "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter", "Rainbow Connection", "What The World Needs Now Is Love", "Get Together", and similar tunes.

Now that I'm pushing 70 myself, it occurred to me that these folks are pretty familiar with these tunes, as I could see many of them quietly singing along!

For this outing, I used my Martin S-0, in which I have installed a simple disk-style under-the-soundboard passive transducer, running to an output jack at the rear of the uke. I plugged straight into the "instrument" channel of my little Fender Acoustasonic 15 amp, and I plugged my microphone into the XLR-style mic input channel. I placed the amp on a stool, and put the stool off to my left and slightly forward so as to avoid feedback problems. I could still hear myself just fine.

This setup worked really nicely for this type of outing, and I felt like I was filling the room (a fairly large room) adequately. I didn't use my separate pre-amp/EQ on the uke, but it sounded very decent at the moderate volume I was playing, and I kept the "mids" on the amp dialed back quite a bit to keep the "quackiness" of the pickup to a minimum.

Overall, a very fun, light-packin' gig!
 

Patty

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Who knows—someday I myself might end up in a memory care unit. And if I’m lucky, a very nice person will come to visit, bringing along a ukulele and making my day! You are a real prince to do this, Bill.
 

Bill Sheehan

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Who knows—someday I myself might end up in a memory care unit. And if I’m lucky, a very nice person will come to visit, bringing along a ukulele and making my day! You are a real prince to do this, Bill.
Aw, thanks, Patty! And although it's true that such outings seem to brighten the day of the residents, I get a huge kick out of doing it!
A gig is a gig, and I'd much rather play a single set for generally attentive listeners in a relatively quiet setting, and be home in time for dinner, than go back to the days of playing three sets for rowdy, intoxicated people (often including me) in a crowded bar, and getting home at 2:00 a.m.
I'm learning that getting older tends to bring the gift of wisdom. It's pretty awesome.
 

captain-janeway

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Aw, thanks, Patty! And although it's true that such outings seem to brighten the day of the residents, I get a huge kick out of doing it!
A gig is a gig, and I'd much rather play a single set for generally attentive listeners in a relatively quiet setting, and be home in time for dinner, than go back to the days of playing three sets for rowdy, intoxicated people (often including me) in a crowded bar, and getting home at 2:00 a.m.
I'm learning that getting older tends to bring the gift of wisdom. It's pretty awesome.
They absolutely love it! Mine sing along when we have uke group come to see us. The smiles are beautiful!
 

Nickie

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Bill, way to go! As you already know, I've been playing with my group Ladies of Uke now for over five years. It just gets better. Please see my post in General, Playing with 4th graders, you'll wanna try this, too, if you haven't yet.
 

Mike $

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I used to play standards and tin pan alley songs for my 86 year old dad, he loved it, and one time he told me his son, Mike, played guitar and asked if I could teach him some songs. I said "sure"
 

Bill Sheehan

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Awesome! Glad it was fun!
Thanks, Don! And as with any gig, it's always worthwhile to ask ourselves, "How can I improve on it just a little bit next time?" Kinda keeps us focused and moving forward.

By the way, I'm mindful of the fact that not every ukulele player (or a player of any other instrument, for that matter) is what you'd call a "gigging musician". And though I do enjoy a limited amount of "performing for others", I suspect that, for most of us (me included), the purest joy comes from the simple act of strumming or plucking those four little strings and hearing beautiful music spring forth. And when done in solitude, in the quiet of one's dwelling, I can't think of a richer source of peace and relaxation. "Soul-soothing" would be a good term. There doesn't have to be an audience in order for our playing to be worthwhile. So, gigging can be great, but it's not for everyone, and it doesn't make anyone "better" than anyone else. Trust me, if you were a fly on the wall at the memory care unit and heard me performing, you'd definitely see the truth in that! :)
 

Bill Sheehan

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Bill, way to go! As you already know, I've been playing with my group Ladies of Uke now for over five years. It just gets better. Please see my post in General, Playing with 4th graders, you'll wanna try this, too, if you haven't yet.
Thanks Nickie! And thanks for that suggestion, and I'll definitely check it out !!
 

Kenn2018

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I used to play standards and tin pan alley songs for my 86 year old dad, he loved it, and one time he told me his son, Mike, played guitar and asked if I could teach him some songs. I said "sure"
It's great that you could bring him some joy. I think that they know that it's us, it just gets mixed up when they try to express themselves.
 

bbkobabe

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Please see my post in General, Playing with 4th graders, you'll wanna try this, too, if you haven't yet.
How far back is this, Nickey?
I'm teaching fourth graders right now too... love to hear your take on it...
 

Bill Sheehan

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How far back is this, Nickey?
I'm teaching fourth graders right now too... love to hear your take on it...
bb, I hope Nickie doesn't mind me "pasting in" the referenced post here, just for convenient reference... :) (And by the way, Nickie, I'm sorry I missed your post when it originally appeared. So awesome that you did that outing!) Here it is, bb:

"3 of us from the Mother Pluckers just did two entertainment/introduction to ukulele sessions for hard of hearing 4th graders in a public school. It was our first time volunteering in a school. We had about a dozen kids or so each session. It was part of The Great American Teach-In week.
The kids all acknowledged that they could hear us, except for one who was deaf. He got bored, poor kid. There were two hand-sign language interpreters. We learned that people with cochlear implants do not hear music very well. They were way more animated and engaged than the elderly I usually play for with the Ladies of Uke. Some even sang, most clapped along, and had perfect rhythm. Some said they are definitely asking for an ukulele for Christmas.
Their favorites were Cups-You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, Count On Me, and Don't Worry, Be Happy."
 

bbkobabe

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Thanks Bill... and Nickie!

I have a student who is going deaf, slowly, as well. He now has hearing aides with Bluetooth capability. The school is going to get us a special microphone/transmitter unit so he can hear me directly through the aides. He has the hardest time with background noises, so this will eliminate that problem. It will probably sound like I am right in his head... we'll see what that is like for us... might be his worst nightmare. It will be much harder to ignore me I'm guessing!

Maybe we can get one to hook up to my ukulele as well...

Technology!
 

bbkobabe

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How is your experience with them?

I mainly teach ukulele to my own class, who are now 7th grade. Most are getting pretty good by now, since we have been at it for one year now and played almost every day when we were getting started... we have been in "maintenance mode" this year, playing once or twice a week just to stay on track. A few of my students have manual dexterity issues and have a hard time keeping up. I'm going to switch them over to percussion or something else soon. The rest of us are going on a Christmas and holiday song spree starting next Monday and will return to playing several times a week.

Our music teacher - and former classroom aide - and I talked our school into starting a ukulele program this year. I bought him a ukulele and gave it to him, setting the hook. He learned to play along with my students last year. He quickly saw the potential, and we dropped violin and began ukulele instead. (Couldn't find a violin teacher, anyway...) He is more of a percussion and keyboard guy, but he caught on rapidly and is probably a better player than I am. He is certainly a better music teacher than I am...

The school then bought 26 Kala sopranos and we started this year (see the photos in my thread UAS Strikes Nor Cal school). I'm the assistant in his class, which means that I help with the tune up and assist students individually who need additional direction. Most are super enthusiastic! A few goof off or can't keep focused... which is pretty normal when you put 26 kids into a room. These kids are generally 10 years old and their focus can waver. If the garbage truck pulls up and can be seen out the back window of our room, all music stops (note to self: Buy curtains!).

But we started playing and singing our first song last week, and they are so happy with that. We know three chords and can play Mary had a little lamb... and we had our first performance recently at a school assembly.

They all know me know me now and greet me in the halls, which is really sweet...

Next year, we hope to expand to a second grade, and keep adding one grade per year. So far, so good!
 

Jim Yates

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I have played a few times with Maggie and with my friends Murray and Reg at seniors' homes. We chose songs similar to the ones you chose, but once in a while the requests would remind us that some of these people in their eighties could have attended Woodstock in their twenties and would be way too young to have listened to the old standards that we love to sing.
(I'm 78, and though I like to play Walkin' My Baby Back Home, I also like the music of Jimi Hendrix...)
 

frets alot

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Kuddos to you! I play guitar with a violinist at an Assisted Living Facility, and know how much they love the oldies. I love it when they sing along.