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Starting a Choir in the Nursing home

Does anyone have any suggestions regarding song selection and techniques in leading a senior group in a nursing home. Most of the members are 70 and above. Most of the members are women. I'm looking for secular music since it is not a church sponsored Nursing home.
Replies (3): Threaded | Chronological
on June 27, 2013 11:20am
Dear Michael,
Please join the FOJN (Friends of Joyful Noise) ChoralNet Community. We do have several members of that community who direct Senior Choirs in nursing homes.  FOJN Is really for ALL sorts of special interest choirs---intellectually disabled children and adults, music inclusion questions as well as seniors etc.--and I know someone can help you there.  You might want to post to the general ChoralNet population since I recall a question such as yours not so long ago.
Marie, Owner and Editor FOJN as well as a ChoralNet Moderator (which is why I remember about the seniors choir rep question!)
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 27, 2013 12:27pm
Hi, Michael -- 
I currently conduct a seniors choir where most of the members are residents at a retirement facility.  I'd say the average age is probably around 85 or 87, and most are women (I have 4 men, 26 women).  I have several singers who have sung extensively in choirs, and a lot of folks who have never sung in a choir before.  We just finished our 5th year with a concert last Saturday (June 22) -- we do two concerts per year (Christmas/holiday and Spring).
We sing mostly 2-part music, some unison.  I've had almost NO success finding suitable repertoire from the "usual sources," since so little music has been published specifically for this age group.  Most existing 2-part music is written for elementary school children, so the ranges are too high, and the lyrics typically aren't suitable for my folks.  Once in awhile, I can find something that I can use, but it doesn't happen very often.
So ... I've ended up writing most of the arrangements we sing, sticking as much as possible to public domain tunes.  I'd be more than happy to share this with anyone who is interested.  I usually produce a full score, plus separate voice parts for each vocal line.  My folks had trouble following a regular score, and separating the voice parts made a HUGE difference in their ability to follow the music, especially the ones who are just learning to read music.
Our last concert was "Plain Folk:  American Folk Music," and featured songs by Stephen Foster, as well as some traditional songs (an audience favorite was "Yankee Doodle").
Lana Mountford
Director, GoldenTones Vocal Ensemble, Seattle, WA
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 29, 2013 8:42am
Lana, I would be interested in reviewing one of your arrangements for seniors.
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