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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » Any Sage Advice For Nursing Homes? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

daffydoug
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I have been rehearsing with our newly formed gospel music group, "The Almond Branch Singers" for a couple months and we're going to begin ministering in nursing homes the end of this month.

We have several guitar players, a bass and several singers. Me, I play guitar.

Anyway, what we have decided is that while the rest of the group is setting up mikes, amps, sound system, etc, I am going to warm up the crowd. 

I want to do a few magic effects to accomplish that mission, maybe two or three at most. The reason I'm posting this is to seek advice and wisdom in what and what not to do in nursing homes as far as choice of material, etc, etc.

What can I expect from the audience?

Is there a right way and a wrong way to approach this?

I appreciate any wisdom and advice you guys can share if you have experience in this area. 

Thanks!  
Doug
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Bill Hallahan
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I once performed at the Alzheimer's ward in a hospital. That was very interesting. Visual effects went over well, things like handkerchief vanishes, etc.. I also performed a card routine, and that didn't get much of a reaction because it required remembering cards.

But, many nursing home patients won't have any problem remembering things. Some others will have dementia.

Also, the staff might not want you to borrow personal items from residents and patients, so if you want to borrow a ring or some other such item, you might want to ask someone on staff beforehand. I encountered that in a V.A. hospital; the hospital staff jumped in when I asked to borrow a ring.

You will be appreciated.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
- The character of ‘Death’ in the movie "Hogswatch"
guyactor
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Yes, visual items are very much appreciated and liked. Mental, card, number tricks, and most requiring following even a short line of thinking may not get a response you like. Color changing hank, flash 'paper' (as always exercise caution}, liquid vanish/appear, floating can while pouring, dancing silk, candle to silk and the like are almost always good. Music - is ALWAYS good.
daffydoug
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After all these weeks of heavy practice, we definitely have the music part under control, We've worked on just about every old time classic gospel tune you can think of.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
randyburtis
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Don't plan tricks where you need a volunteer to come up, that will mostly not work well for you.
Terry Holley
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I have found that every nursing home is different and every one who attends the programs is different. As has been suggested, highly visual effects are well received. Flower bouquet productions, silk productions, etc. Mis-made flag with a patriotic ending such as a poem ( http://www.celebrate-american-holidays.c......ems.html ) is a winner! Miser's dream or Six Bill Repeat. Cut and Restored Rope. Torn and Restored Newspaper. I feel colorful, flashy and fun is better than highly "mysterious."

Kudos to you and the "The Almond Branch Singers." God bless your ministry!
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
daffydoug
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Thank-you! I'm really pleased with the progress we've made in mastering dozens of hymns.

In short, the Lrod has really blessed our efforts. He is faithful.

I'm considering a couple Dan Harlan routines., Namely, "The Awakenng" and "Hold It Buster"

Anyone here familiar with these?

I'm also considering "Enchanted Cube" , where a mixed up Rubik's Cube solves itself in midair, but I have no idea if the residents of nursing homes are even familiar with the Rubik's Cube. I am finding it extremely difficult to get inside their heads , which is what my objective in deciding on a brief program is.
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randyburtis
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Awakening is awesome. good choice.
daffydoug
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I know the effect is great. I love it. Pure genius on Dan Harlan's part. No audience participation required. which is good for nursing homes. I just knd of wonder if they will be able to follow the patter (If you are familiar with it.)

It is SO DIFFICULT for me to get inside these resident's heads ahead of time, knowing what they will be able to understand, comprehend, hear, see or follow!

I don't want to insult them by OVERsimplifyimg, yet on the other hand I don't want to do things that will lose them. (Providing I an able to connect with them initially).

I feel like I'm walking a very fine line, here.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Rickfcm
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I used the Giant and the Dwarf trick where I turned it into a story where they have to respond. When I said the word Giant, they had to growl and when I said Dwarf they had to say, "help me, help me, please don't eat me". The point is they responded and had a good time with a story that was a nursery ryhme. It was my opening and those that stayed awake saw the rest.

One of the routines I did was with a double blooming bouquet. Here is the routine:

Weeds in the Garden of Life

Verse: Hebrews 13:5b “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”
Goal: You are not alone. I specifically wrote and used this one at a nursing home.

Supplies Needed: Double blooming bouquet again, but you can use a single blooming bouquet, just adapt the patter to fit.

Set Up: Load the bouquet per the instructions.

LESSON

(Bring out the bouquet and as you talk about friends and relatives that leave our lives, pluck off the flowers and throw them into your dump box.)

Time has a way of bringing people into and out of our lives. Many of us have had a lot of friends and relatives, (Start pulling them off.) but as time goes by some leave. Some move away, some just stop coming by, some develop different interest and taste and some are called home by our heavenly Father. And there can come a point in our lives we are short on those relationships and fellowship we value.

But as time goes on, we develop new relationships and friends, (Make the next set of flowers appears. If you only have a single blooming bouquet, you will have to adjust your patter and delay the reappearance of the final set of flowers.) some people come back into our lives and interactions and friendship bloom again. But as more time passes, the pattern continues and people begin to leave our lives again. (Pull the second set of flowers off the bouquet.) Now the pace of people passing on begins to speed up.

Many find themselves alone or lonely and start to feel like this plant here. We are a week in the garden of life. (Slowly turn the bouquet over so it is upside down and sad looking.) We feel lonely, without the support and friendship we need.

But no matter the circumstances we are not alone. (Slowly turn the bouquet right side up and make the flowers bloom again.) No matter how you feel you are not alone. Psalm 139:7 asks the question, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” The answer is nowhere. No matter where we go God is always there. Has also said in Hebrews (13:5), “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He is with you. You are not alone, ever. Your life is in full bloom until you are called back to the Father. You have work to do for the kingdom. No matter your circumstances you need to get the word out there and win souls. Anything you can do is important, but in everything pray to God, for He is with you and wants to talk with you.
Terry Holley
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If you are still concerned, I think you should talk to the supervisors of the facilities and make some visits prior to your presentations. I have known many individuals in nursing facilities who have a sharp mind and a wonderful sense of humor. People live in these facilities for various reasons. You may be over thinking this!
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
plink
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In past years I would work hard to come up with a program that would include many of the good points you have seen in the above posts. I'd rehearse and be excited. I would take my daughters 3 and 7 and that would be the high point. The people in the nursing homes appreciated human contact. They would come out of their stupors and light up. Like us they wanted to be acknowledged, appreciated and loved.
daffydoug
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Getting prepared for  this nursing home reminds me of something Dan Harlan once said to me. I asked him the question of what he does to protect his show props from theft and damage or loss from things such as natural disasters. At that time, I had spent countless months  in putting together a show from Dan's DVD's by L&L publishing "Packs Small, Plays Big".

I had literally run myself ragged obtaining the props. Scouring stores, the Internet, etc. It cost me MUCH man hours and money! 

Then I got to thinking about valuable props that had been stolen from some of my shows in the past. I recall deep hurt upon finding that my props had been stolen. It always hurts when people steal from you, but it's even worse for a magician when it's a vital part of his show that he has worked his caboose off to perfect. 

So I got to wondering how Dan insures his briefcase show, thinking that surely he worked as hard over the years putting it together as I did. 
Dan's reply to my question stunned me. He basically said that he does nothing to protect his props or his show.
When I asked him why he replied "I AM the show!"

Well, that is apparently too profound for me to grasp. I understand it on one a basic level, but I don't think I'm fully grasping the entire concept of it. In my view, the props and effects you use in your show are your tools with which you entertain others and fill up your half hour, forty five minute, one hour time slot. How are you going to do a show without props??

To me, that's like a carpenter approaching the job site with no hammer or saw because they had been stolen. He could say I don't need them because I AM the job." But he's going to have a heck of a time hammering in those nails and cutting those boards without his tools!

I said all that, because here I am trying to decide what effects to entertain with at this event, yet I only have a very FEW props left to choose from, because 99% of my show, ( and a lot of it was pack flat, play big) has been left in Arkansas with my wife when we separated. She tells me it's in a storage shed BURIED under tons of other stuff and is practically impossible to get to.
Not only my Dan Harlan "Packs Flat Plays Big" props, but dozens of other props, also. Years of my life invested in purchasing, creating, practicing and rehearsing. 

Even Daniel Duggins, my figure that you see in my avatar and several other Axtell puppets are there. 

I used to do clowning. All my make-up and costume for my "Trick E Bananuz character is there.

So I'm pretty much wiped out. Devastated. Ruined.

Trying VERY HARD these days to make my comeback, but it's so DIFFICULT to "be the show", when you have very little show props to choose from. 

That's my difficulty right now. I can't really "pick and choose" what I think will fit the nursing home scenario, when I have so limited resources to choose from. I get a thought such as "The linking rings would go GREAT in the nursing home!"

Then it hits me. My linking rings are 700 miles away, buried hopelessly under a pile of junk in my wife's shed.

At this point I have very few props left to choose from. 

I have a lot of close up stuff such as cards and coins. Problem is the nursing home won't be a close up situation. Probably a good sized room, I assume, where medium size to larger props will be the order of the day.

I'm stuck.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Theodore Lawton
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God bless you my brother in your efforts to entertain the elderly. I can see your heart is in this Doug; you are a loving person who wants to do your best for these people.

Is God in this? It's a hypothetical question. Watch as He blows your mind when you entertain with very few props. Use props that are easy to come by.

You can make your own dye tube out of a pill bottle and do a color change.

Use a TT for a vanish and appearance.

You can do cut and restored rope and/or professor's nightmare.

You can do coin in a ball of wool straight out of Mark Wilson's CCIM. It works and entertains.

You could make your own silk fountain for cheap and dazzle them with a colorful production.

Crystal blow tubes are a great, inexpensive prop.

You can do a torn and restored newspaper.

How about cups and balls?

There's so much you CAN do. Don't look at what you can't do. You have a great talent for voices- that will certainly help you greatly to entertain these people.

It may sound silly, but how about a mouth coil? You present a humorous character, I think it would work and they're cheap.

You and God can and will do this and you will do great.

Let us know how it goes!
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God bless you and have a magical day!
daffydoug
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Thank-you for the suggestions. These are all very good. I always notice a perceptible difference when I post in this part of the Café. The folks here are remarkably more friendlier and kinder. I'm not saying they are unfriendly in the other forums. That's not true. I am simply saying that the kindness and friendliness factor increases here in the Gospel magic forum to a tangible degree. It really does. People here really care about each other to a heightened degree.

I'll be candid and admit to my friends here that my life has pretty much fell apart since my wife and me separated. You might say I lost everything. You might say I'm down and out, trying to recover my losses. If it were not for the good heart of some people in my life, I would be on the street. I lost my employment, went through bankruptcy, lost my home, my car, my driver license, and ended up moving out of state,  found a new home, but then  lost it too, and lost  my new employment in that state. Then my marriage went south and as I mentioned, I lost my magic show and my vent figures, Axtell puppets, my guitar...EVERYTHING. State of Indiana hit me hard and State taxes mercilessly and coldly gulped what little money I had left.  However, I managed to hang on to my God, my Bible, a few close up effects, some shoes and a couple shirts and pants and a shred of my dignity. I managed to hang on to my friends here at the Café, also.  My brother gave me a cheap guitar that he owned, so I use that. Not nearly as good as my high quality classical guitar that got left behind, and the frets are sharp and cut my fingers, but at least I'm playing and improving my guitar  skills daily. Learning some Bach and other challenging pieces, stretching my limits.

Everything else in my life pretty much wiped out, though.

Then I found a good church here, (actually, the Lord sovereignly placed me there! But that's another story.)  where I am very active and participative in ministries,  and especially a good pastor who has taken me under his wing, befriended me, and  become like a dad to me.


The love of family (church and blood family) is the one thing that has kept me from sinking completely under. I'm still basically homeless, were it not for the kindness of my family. I sleep on a couch, and a loved one's living room has become my home. Here I keep my guitar, my paintings and drawings and my close-up magic effects. 

But I'm not down for the count. I have my talents. I'm too old to be employable, in fact I'm just about at retirement age.  My  record of being fired twice is against me. So I am trying to figure out how to freelance. I hit Google so much that I have worn it out. I've considered many possibilities, from free-lance voice over work to oil painting. Lately, I'm looking at the possibility of writing greeting cards, but I'm still trying to get ahold of good information on how to go about that. I think I have the talent and imagination to make a go of it. It would be low over-head, whereas voice over work would require the purchasing of recording equipment. 

And like I said, we (The Almond Branch Singers)  are going to minister in nursing homes, so there is a bit of a ministry started there. The remuneration will be zero, but at least we will be doing something positive for the community and for the Kingdom of God. And Matthew 6:33 still applies.

It's interesting: Yesterday I read an article concerning fifteen celebrities who will never make a comeback. Mel Gibson, Demi Moore, Lindsay Lohan and a bunch of others were on the list. The article gave a synopsis of what they had done to fall out of favor and out of the limelight. And it made me think. It made me think how cruel and cold this world is, and how TENUOUS fame is. It made me think of just how DIFFICULT it can be to make a comeback once a person is truly down and out.

I think of Mickey Rooney. The guy was only worth maybe eighteen or nineteen thousand when he died. Couldn't even afford a funeral. What a sad story! All that fame, all those movies that he made, being one of the classic actors of all time from Hollywood's golden years, yet taxes ate him alive and the man died a pauper. It blows my mind to think about it. These kind of things ought not to be!! Yet they are. Lou Costello, Willie Nelson are a couple others who come to mind that taxes ate them alive. 

Anyway, I don't mean to ramble here, but thinking about all those down and out celebrities really drove home the point to me that it is indeed possible for a person, ANY person to be hit by adversity to the place where one is literally buried under the rubble with no hope of ever coming out again. The term I'm looking for is "down for the count". Or as the world says "You're toast". 

Then, yesterday being Easter, Jesus' resurrection is fresh in my mind. Now if ever a person had NO hope of a comeback, it was certainly the Lord! Consider how the Roman's literally DEVASTATED his physical body with their cruel flogging and tortuous crucifixion. He had lost all his blood and his body was so totally devastated that a million of the world's best doctors could have never fixed it. His figure and countenance marred beyond recognition.  
And to top it all off, buried in a rock tomb with the huge boulder in front of it and the Roman seal and guards in front of it. Talk about DOWN FOR THE COUNT!! Jesus experienced "down for the count" like no human ever has! Talk about a HOPELESS situation!!!

Yet we all know the end of the story. We all know about the resurrection and the boulder being moved and the angels and the Roman guards as dead men. We all know the tomb could't hold him. We all know how He was seen of five hundred witnesses who also died cruel deaths and we know that not many people would DIE FOR A LIE!! Especially the kind of cruel deaths they were subjected to! We all know that Jesus conquered death and the grave and that He made THE GREATEST COMEBACK IN HUMAN HISTORY!! 

Now I'm not trying to preach, but I said all that to say that I may be down, but with the Lord, DESPITE THE FACT THAT LIFE HAS BURIED ME UNDER THE RUBBLE, in Jesus name, with God's help, I WILL make my comeback! Someway, someHOW, and I don't have the slightest inkling how, except I have prayer and fasting on my side, I WILL rise from the ashes that my life has become. I'm not a worldly celebrity living for greed and money and self glorification. When those guys are down, they have no right to call on the Lord for help. But I'm a born again child of the King. He conquered death and His word says I am MORE than a conquerer. 
Some way, some HOW I will rise again from the ashes. There is supernatural power on my side. And that power is God's. It's not magic or illusion, it's not mind over matter, it's the power of God that raised Christ from the dead!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
daffydoug
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Oh! As a side note, I forgot to mention that using my phone's recorder only, I have narrated and read many classic passages of scripture in a professional "Alexander Scourby" type voice. If you guys are interested in having copies, just let me know,and give me an e-mail address and I'll mail it to you. I've done 23'rd Psalm, sermon on the mount, Genesis, several Psalms, proverbs and more. Maybe it would be a blessing to you or someone you know.

The reason I did it was because I could not afford to purchase the professionally recorded versions, so I thought "Why not do it myself? "

Folks in my church tell me it's very good, and sounds like the professional versions.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Stephon Johnson
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I can't add much to the wisdom already given here. But a friend and I used to go to a local nursing home every Wednesday at 6pm during dinner, and play bluegrass gospel tunes. We shared vocals and he played guitar and I played 5-string banjo. I never did any magic because very few residents were visually engaged in our performance.
After feeling a bit discouraged that few looked at us, acknowledged our presence, or applauded after each song, I had a changed of attitude when the director enthusiastically approached us one evening: She thanked us for being there and pointed out one old curmudgeonly gentleman who sat stone faced every Wednesday while eating slowly. She said "you have no idea, but he NEVER came to the dining area before, and refused his food! He loves your music so much that he agreed to eat all his food AND come to the dining room in order to listen to you!"
After that, I knew that some were enjoying it immensely, though they had lost the ability to convey it.
I did make a point after every performance to make my way through the room, pat each person gently on the arm or shoulder, and say "Thank you for coming to see us tonight! It was an honor to play for you!" I made sure there was some personal connection. Those who engaged me in conversation, I would spend a little time talking to them. It is a ministry with great blessing to all, and great glory to God!
What if you woke up tomorrow, with only what you thanked God for today?
daffydoug
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That is very profound and helps me to know what to expect. I'm bracing myself for whatever comes.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
harris
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My programs there are more focused on my Vent and or music.

Clarity is crucial. Living with my 92 year old father in law has taught me many things.
Among them is his comments when we go to various church and non church events.

"I really liked the music, but the pastor talked too fast." is and example

Harris
who types and talks to fast at times.
Harris Deutsch

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daffydoug
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If clarity is crucial, perhaps Dan Harlan's "Awakening" may not be the best choice after all. The back and forth nature of the patter and the visual may be confusing to some. I'm beginning to get cold feet.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Stephon Johnson
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Doug,
I forgot to mention that I'm praying for you. I know, intimately, the kind of loss you are experiencing. It's crushing to the spirit to say the least. But nothing comes to pass without God ordaining or allowing it, and I try to keep that always in mind through particularly hard times.
Hold to the Savior and seek His will in all things through His Word. Blessings!
What if you woke up tomorrow, with only what you thanked God for today?
harris
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I don't know Awakening by Harlan..

Just to be clear, I was talking about audio, your spoken words.

And as far as peoples posting and attitude, I also find this part of the Café refreshing and an easy place to drop by.


I do a lot of back and forth with my puppet(mostly Nigel or his Grand Puppet Charlie). Things can be faster as long as they are clear.

If I don't use a sonud system, I move around the "stage area" to engage different parts of the audience.

Seems like I do more assisted living gigs these days than elementary age.
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daffydoug
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I believe I have the perfect solution to my dilemma . What I can't do with magic effects I'm going to fill out with songs and guitar accompaniment. I think I'll sing warm, wholsome songs like "The Wonderful Soup Stone", "Coat Of Many Colors", "Sunshine On My Shoulders", etc.

Then I might add in my impersonation of Jimmy Stewart reading his poem "Bo". (

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R9uSQB76......a_player )

I think I can come up with enough material to warm the group up while the musical instruments and mikes and sound system are being set up, with or without me doing magic effects.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Theodore Lawton
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Sounds like a winner!

Saying a prayer.

Thanks to all for sharing your wisdom that we all benefit from.
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God bless you and have a magical day!
harris
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Thanks for sharing your gifts here, nursing homes and other places.

May God continue to bless your ministry.



love brother Harris
Harris Deutsch

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