4 minus 2, plus 1.
#1
Just when things were going so well, a minor disaster strikes.

As you may know, I recently formed a little ensemble to play in care homes. This has worked beautifully well for some months, but a text message which I received yesterday has upset the applecart.

Our lovely guitarist/singer has had her working hours increased, and no longer has the time for our project. Her Mother, our Saxophonist, has now had a second operation on her arthritic hand, leaving her unable to play for an unspecified period of time.

Brenda & I began this project with just the two of us, but were very happy for our friends to get involved. On learning of our sudden loss of personnel, I rang an old and dear friend of ours to ask for his assistance. He very kindly agreed to help us out temporarily, giving me time to make alternative arrangements.

Yesterday afternoon, I rang the activities coordinator of a care home we visit regularly in order to appraise her of the changes to our line-up. During our conversation, Christine mentioned that she was interviewing a Country & Western guitarist/singer a little later in the day. This chap is a solo performer, and it occurred to me that it may be mutually beneficial if he were to join our little band. I mentioned this to Christine during our conversation, suggesting that she may like to give him my number to facilitate a discussion.

Keeping between 30 & 50 elderly people amused and entertained for two yours can be quite tiring, but less so if there are a few of you to help take the strain. Of course, as you will appreciate, they have to be the right people, and my job over the next few weeks will be to find the right people to replace the wonderful people we have lost.

Luckily for me, I happen to know a lot of eminently suitable candidates. Whether or not they will agree to my request remains to be seen, but I remain hopeful.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#2
Best of luck to you Stephen!
I'm sure it will work out for your ensemble. Too bad you live so far away, I'd love to help you out!
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#3
Stephen - It's a shame when you lose people you're used to playing with. But I don't think anyone goes into playing for old folk with their eyes closed - most people do it because they want to do it, particularly if they're not being paid. It's something that's so worth while - I hope you get something organised soon. I to owould certainly join you if I lived closer well, I probably live closer than Tom does !!)

Best wishes
Sally
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#4
Hi Tom,

Thank you for your kind words. I know you would love to help out, and we would love to have on board. Pity about the distance, but think of the frequent flyer points you would receive.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#5
Hi Sally,

You are just what we need, Sal. You would add some much needed glamour to our ensemble, together with great musical talent.

You are absolutely right; playing in care homes can really test your resolve. A few weeks ago, one of the residents had a stroke just as we were about to start. The session was delayed by half an hour while the paramedics worked on this unfortunate gentleman.

I have never, and would never, accept payment of any kind for what I do. My theory, for what it's worth, is that our community is made better by pure altruism. We do get a cup of tea, however, and the occasional biscuit.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#6
Hi Stephen,

Yes, I understand and feel the same way. I even eat the institutional food with the old folks when we play at meal sites. Now that I should be paid for!!!!! Good luck!
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#7
Hi Tom,

We always pack up just before they serve the scheduled evening meal. The food does not look terribly appetising, though, after eating Army food for twelve years, I think I could handle it.

The food in the Army is fine ..... right up to the point at which the cooks get hold of it. Most of our cooks had skin complaints, while the rest appeared to suffer from itching in intimate places. The secret to survival (and sanity) was to eat off-base occasionally. Though I have no definite proof, I strongly suspect that our cooks were in the pay of the KGB.

Anyway, all that is behind me, and the last time I ate Army grub was forty-one years ago. I still wince whenever I think of the slop they served up, but I have just about forgiven them.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#8
We were treated to delicious tea and stickies after a sea shanty performance fairly recently. But then the old folks home was rather nicer than any I have visited : bright, modern, young carers and the oldies weren't sitting round in a circle. In France, many people actually choose to go into a "maison de retraite" (retirement home) after retirement and they do vary (as they do in the UK) according to what people can afford - and of course depending on the level of care if needed.
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#9
Hi Sally,

Standards in care homes do vary quite widely here in the UK, though I have yet to visit one in which I would like to spend more than a couple of hours.

I'm sure that many of the care workers are dedicated to the comfort and welfare of their residents, but I have occasionally had cause to berate a member of staff for an appalling lack of concern for elderly and infirm residents.

An example of this concerned an elderly man who was desperate to use the toilet. He asked for assistance on at least six or eight occasions, over a period of around fifteen minutes. This poor man was obviously distressed, but the young carer said: "You'll have to wait a few minutes." After the sixth or eighth unanswered request, I demanded that she take him to the bathroom immediately. (she did)

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#10
Hi Stephen and Sally, yes, they vary widely here too. I hope to tip over while playing my accordion in the woods on a hot summer day. I don't think I would last very long on the other side of the aisle at a place I could aftord.
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#11
Hi Tom,

All is not doom and gloom in care homes, and I have seen some improvements recently.

I was contacted by one care home which had a poor reputation. Indeed, two relatives of mine had been residents there, and I well remember the stench which seemed to permeate the whole place. It was with some trepidation that I accepted the request, and I was happy to discover that significant changes had been made.

It isn't the Royal Albert Hall, but playing at these facilities is immensely satisfying.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#12
Al I can say is Bless You All For This Work!
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed), Hohner 1974 Melodica (Piano 36)
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#13
Good to hear that Stephen! Thanks Eddy!
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#14
Hi Eddy & Tom,

Thank you for your kind words.

I fell into this kind of voluntary work in a fairly peculiar way. One beautiful summer's day last year, Brenda and I were playing in a local park where an 18 year old girl had been murdered. The atmosphere in the park was, as you can imagine, very gloomy, so we decided that it would be nice to lighten the mood.

Out of respect for the girl who was killed, we postponed our plans for several weeks. The success of our venture was instant, as people approached us in their hundreds over the following weeks. We went for an hour or so every day (weather permitting) and wowed our audiences with tunes from the 40's 50's & 60's.

During one of our visits, we were approached by the events coordinator of a local care home. She asked what we would charge to play at her residential home. "Nothing", I replied, which she thought was very fair. We were already playing for a dementia sufferer's group, so it wasn't a big stretch to play in care homes.

I guess that my 'phone number was passed around to other care homes, as I started to receive invitations quite regularly. No doubt events coordinators would pass on my number and say, "Try this mug, he plays for free."

Anyway, mention of this was made at our folk club, and a couple of our friends asked if they could join us. We naturally agreed, and it all went splendidly well.

Thank you for your interest and kind moral support.

All The Best,

Stephen.
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#15
Hi Stephen

It's great to hear that you're so much in demand and how appreciated you must be. Music is something that reaches people and it's a good feeling to be able to give that to others.

Sadly the group I accompany is unwilling play for free in care-homes - yet is happy to play in the streets of Saint-Malo collecting for the French lifeboats. "We won't be valued if we aren't paid" ... I understand the sentiment but feel there could be exceptions.
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#16
Hi Sally,

I think that your friends are way off beam. People do appreciate kindness and generosity of spirit, which is the whole point of what we do. If it was ever suggested that we charge for our performances, I would immediately quit.

Money is of no real interest to me. I have had a long and fairly successful career, and my pensions need no augmentation. Besides which, I'm nowhere near being the best player in the world, and have never pretended that I am.

The care homes in my area have had their budgets slashed to the bone, leaving no money for "extras" such as the service we provide. I look on it as a civic duty; a way to bring some pleasure to people who may otherwise be ignored.

I hope that your friends may reconsider their position, as every community benefits from acts of selflessness.

Big Hugs,

Stephen.
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#17
Hi Stephen

I feel just the same way as you. Paid performances are one thing but it gives such pleasure to bring some light into people's lives without being paid for it. The French don't have the same mindset as us : "If we do it for free for one place, everyone will want the same". My response is "Does the tail wag the dog ?" rather than "he who pays the piper ....". Surely it's up to us who we charge !

Some things just don't have a monetary value. I would rather see people's feet tapping, a smile or clapping and I have never forgotten seeing a face light up when I played the Anniversary Song (<I><s>not</I> the Anniversary Waltz !)

Sally
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#18
you are not alone:

elderly and disabled people are among the venues who I would consider playing for free (only good can come from it)

but as soon as an organizer intends to make money from an event, we need to charge as well
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#19
We always play for free at nursing homes. Sometimes that's easier said than done. Sometimes a "promoter" contacts us and wants us to perform at a home for which s/he has charge a fee. We refuse these deals. Occasionally, a nursing home will insist paying us and gets hurt/disappointed when we don't take the money. We, then, always donate it back to them.

We are all retired, all on pension, and all will be in the audience more sooner than later, and all believe it's the proper, moral, and ethical thing to do.

We are far from professionals and probably even shy of mediocre, but do somehow manage to brighten the day of people, mostly with our sing alongs, who have few bright days. Brightens ours too.
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
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#20
It's a pity we all live in different countries - I think we'd have a great get-together and get those care homes rocking ! :b
<QUOTE author="StargazerTony"><s>
StargazerTony Wrote:We are all retired, all on pension, and all will be in the audience more sooner than later, and all believe it's the proper, moral, and ethical thing to do.
We are far from professionals and probably even shy of mediocre, but do somehow manage to brighten the day of people, mostly with our sing alongs, who have few bright days. Brightens ours too.
Says it all for me !
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