I feel it’s important for musicians to get around to local nursing homes and retirement facilities to bring a little joy and a few smiles to the elderly and infirmed. Folks tell me that they really look forward to our monthly visits. So I commit to regularly singing and playing with the Accordion Club of Roseburg. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine myself plunking on a banjo or strumming my guitar with as many as six accordionists! For some, it might conjure up images of purgatory.
Actually, it’s a lot of fun, quite entertaining, and I’ve learned many new tunes in the process. That’s because our club presents a different theme each month for our hour-long program. As Mother’s Day occurs in May, this month features all songs with a woman’s name in the title. Next month will be songs with a man’s name in the title.
A few months ago, I encouraged our club president to develop a “Numbers Program.” Thus, we start that show with “One Dozen Roses” and “A Bicycle Built for Two,” followed by “Three Coins in the Fountain.” We only play through each song about twice, and we encourage everyone to try to remember the title, lyrics, sing along, and guess what year the song was written. I’ve a special affinity for those songs dating back to the 1920s which are rarely heard today, but they’ve managed to survive over the decades. Before the hour is over (and exactly 21 songs later), we’ve reached “Seventy-Six Trombones” before we close with “I Found a Million Dollar Baby.”
During the course of that program, we also present a few of my favorite Beatles songs … “Eight Days a Week” and “When I’m Sixty Four.” Both of these songs are very special for folks coop’ed up in the retirement facilities. The former has an important message that we should all attempt to adhere to – “Eight days a week is not enough to show I care.” And the latter reinforces that same message – “When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now. Will you still be sending me a Valentine, birthday greeting, bottle of wine?”
Life in retirement homes doesn’t have to be dismal, depressing and institutional. Music can help alleviate that. Try to think of some ways that you can bring a little cheer to residents in the same way the Beatles have to so many of us, as we don’t want to become “yours sincerely wasting away.”