February 5, 2013
I played at a nursing home on Sunday. Not a gig I do very often, but this particular home has me come and play from time to time. The residents are really sweet and it's a nice way to spend an hour...I feel like the music really cheers them up. But it never fails, there are always some colorful characters in the audience, and at least one or two outbursts during the performance.
For example, on Sunday:
:: A lovely woman rolls into the room right before I start playing. She has a fluffy feather boa on, hot pink accessories, and a small black and white dog on her lap. I have never seen any animals at this home before, but apparently this dog is part of the regular crowd, because no one else seems fazed by his presence.
:: Lots of times, people sing along while I play. This used to surprise me, but not anymore. The residents like to hear songs from musicals and old jazz standards. What was surprising this time was that one lady in the front row sang literally EVERY single song. She knew all the words! Even songs that I didn't know had words, like The Entertainer, and Humoresque...she was singing something. At one point she said to no one in particular, "Can you believe I know all these words?" :)
:: The furnace was cranked WAY up. Like 90 degrees at least. Plus, there was a roaring fire going in the fireplace directly behind me as I played. So my outfit of pants, a shirt, a cardigan and a colorful scarf was completely appropriate. Um, not.
:: During one song, the little black and white dog starts barking like crazy. Like super loud, and angry sounding. Even though I am nervous that this dog hates Rogers and Hammerstein and sounds like he wants to bite me, I keep playing, while scanning the room nervously, checking to see if the dog is still on the lady's lap. Right before the end of the song, he stops.
:: One woman said, "She's good!" and her friend replied (yelled), "QUIET!!"
I think that's about it. Afterward, I was able to talk to quite a few residents, and they were all so nice. Even though the little things that I posted above were amusing, it is a blessing to be able to go and play for an hour, and hopefully take them on a little trip down memory lane through music.
One time, as I walked in to play, I passed by two ladies in the hall, waiting for the concert to start. One said loudly to the other, "Oh, it's her again. She's too fancy." That little remark was a) hilarious, and b) somewhat offensive, but it really stuck with me. I have no idea what made them think I was too fancy...too many classical pieces? Not enough interaction? Were my shoes too fancy? Was it because I was wearing a scarf? I'll probably never know. But now whenever I play for them, I make sure I just play the songs I know they like, and smile a lot, and try not to seem "fancy." Whatever that means. :)