Back to the Nursing Home

Posted: September 27, 2011 in Music Therapy

Our adult day services program went out to the nursing home for some singing today.  This was our third trip since I’ve been working here – we also went back in December and in May.  This time, we did oldies.  Here was the set list:

  • My Girl by The Temptations
  • Do Wah Diddy by Manfred Mann
  • Stand By Me by Ben E. King
  • Twist and Shout by The Beatles
  • Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
  • I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye
  • La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
  • Lean on Me by Bill Withers
  • Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles
  • Louie Louie by The Kingsmen
  • Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye by Steam

Once again, our group shone.  Back in August, they chose some songs they’d like to try.  From the suggestions, I had a list of 26, and got them to vote.  We narrowed it down to 18, and I ended up cutting seven more because they were either too wordy, because we were doing another song that was very similar, or because people just weren’t into them (the final cuts were Build Me Up Buttercup, Do You Love Me?, I Can’t Help Myself, My Guy, Rock Around the Clock, Rockin’ Robin, and Yakety Yak).  We’ve been practicing all these songs for several weeks, and the group really came together.  I think this music was more their style than the folk songs we did in May, or even the Christmas carols we did in December.  Though they did great with those performances as well, I think they were more consistently engaged here.  Everyone had a great time singing for the residents, and some of our consumers even went to talk to a few of the residents afterwards, which was nice.

I guess the next one will be Christmas carols again, and then after that, I don’t know.  I want to try and broaden our group’s horizons and work on different styles of music.  Maybe we’ll go with some crooner music (Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, etc.), maybe jazz.  Maybe a combination.  We’ll see.

Thanks for reading!


  1. JoelK says:

    Did you have any residents singing along? I’m guessing your 60s setlist was a bit “new” for them. Probably the value here is for your own clients, to provide a performance scenario for them.

  2. themtguy says:

    If you think about it, the 60s were 50 years ago, which means that it’s perfectly plausible that residents knew them, particularly since not everyone at this place is “old”. The most recent song we did was from 1971 (Lean on Me), and that one probably got the best response. We did have some people singing along, some people clapping along, and yes, some people just staring at us (as they have for the last couple of singing visits). The value for our clients was huge, but I think the residents got a lot out of it as well,.

    • JoelK says:

      Sounds good! Yeah, maybe my comment comes from my own situation, where I work with primarily ages 80+, and where various stages of dementia mean their song preferences swing back to their early youth. It’ll be quite a few years till my clients start requesting Beatles songs. That said, many songs have a timeless appeal, rhythmically and melodically, that anyone can respond to without “knowing” the song.

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