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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.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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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Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.
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God bless you and have a magical day!
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