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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The tricks are on me! » » Magic for elderly (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Gorlzax
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I was today volunteering at my local elderly home and doing some magic for them. I learned a lot today. I had a table at one of their events and tried to get people to stop and see some magic. Most of it went very well but I really realised how most of the time the routine needs to be really simple and also quite short, especially when performing for older people and in a place where there is quite a lot of things happening.

And I realized the great benefit of scripting. Because I have good scripts for every effect I could edit them quickly while I was acctually doing the effect.

Good learning experience that I wanted to share.

Alex
Julie
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Alex

I don't think your learning experience is limited to "the elderly". There are some pretty sharp senior citizens lurking around a corner every now and then. Smile

As you gain more real world experience you'll find short and to the point is one of the keys to your performing success in similar (not necessarily elderly) situations.

Your ability to hold a crowd is in direct proportion to how entertaining YOU are.

Grandma Julie
Gorlzax
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Julie, you are absolutely right - there are and there were at my gig really sharp seniors. I don't even think it's about their lack of sharpness, I'd rather say they were quite quick to start talking to each others or me or so something else. I felt their focus was more wandering than with younger audiences I have performed. Many times I, after a trick just listened to all the stories that they wanted to share with me and not try to get another trick in there.

But also, it is true I am not very experienced magician, so this might not be a senior thing at all, I will learn the differences in time.

But this short and to the point became much clearer to me. Especially in a strolling or similar situation where the audience isn't sitting down and really seeing a show of yours. I for example have my own version of chigaco opener and the script for it is longer than what I did today. Today I just focused more to the trick not the story so much.
RichLucas
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Haddonfield, NJ
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I am getting ready, practicing for a performance at the clinic "Life At Lourdes" for elderly who are in need of physical help, or those who just want a place to share company. I hope that I don't "blow it" 'cause I am a member there and will have to face everyone on a daily basis.

Any tips?

All help is appreciated.

Rich Lucas
Gorlzax
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Tips that I can give are basically those I just discovered myself. Its good to keep the tricks short or so that you can end them in many places. Also, I became aware that its important to choose your moments, when to do a trick and when just to say a nice "hello, how are you doing" and if the person doesn't seem ready or willing to be in contact with you then don't push the river, just smile and nod.

Make it easy and fun for them and yourself.

These are my two cents. 😊
Coolmanclyde
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I have a goal set to be able to perform at senior home or kids hospital by next March. Reading your experience is helpful; have you performed any more since posting? Any other helpful hints?

What sort of tricks did you perform? Card? Coin? Impromptu object? Rope?
plink
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Used to do a lot of "nursing" homes with a full Gospel program. Two things I found out- sponge balls in their hand gets a better reaction than any stage effect. And used to take my two (cute, little) daughters that made the folks very happy. Had to take an ego pill on that one.
Russo
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May have mentioned this befor- A while back, Entertained at 'Helen Hays Hospital', in Rockland New York. All Children, quite a few "Basket Cases'(that is, NO limbs)- But several times I put an effect on their belly (such as the 20th century silks-etc.)They were delighted- as were the Nurses- it was a very gratifying experience. Handicapped LOVE it when you DO include them. Also the Elderly do appreciate Gospel Programs- Ralph(russo)Rousseau
Coolmanclyde
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Thanks for the tips on the elderly and/or handicapped, I'll keep these in mind. I currently don't have a sponge ball routine so I might need to invest some time into that one.

Hoping the OP will come and answer my question about what he specifically performs.
AndreOng1
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Volunteer magic performance its the best cause most of the time people are extra appreciative and willing to be involve.
In my first show long time ago, I started misers dream and professors nightmare.
They absolutely loved how I present it. I will motivated me to perform more magic show early on.
Perero
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I have performed for elder people a few times and have always get a really warm welcome and high recomendation after the show. But like Gorlzax 'says' the focus is a little problem, and what ever you do don't rush...i had to do the same money trick 3-4 times becouse they did'nt follow, and they wanted to see it again, and again with the big eyes and discussions after about making money like I did. They always love when spoken to, no rush and speaking clearily and loud.
Money seems to to work very well, and very visual tricks.i always finnish with som heavy tricks with sleight of hand for the staff and volounter from the audience...the reason is to leave a deep impression, and proffessionality, and knowledge that I CAN do'heavy' stuff and not only be funny and tell funny stories.
I like to perform for elder's and try to take the time to listen after the show, of all the anecdotes and there stories.
No the only Magician in Sweden, but the wurst
www.perero.com
MAV
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One of my favorite lessons that I learned while performing for seniors was that they seem a bit more reluctant to volunteer to come on stage, or up front with you. As a result, on my first time with seniors I did not get a chance to use some of my patter and interact with the audience. Thus my scheduled 45 minute performance lasted only about 35 minutes. The fun thing that I remember is that there was this little ole blue haired lady in a wheelchair in the back of the room. I asked her if she liked the show. She said, "yes, and I am so glad you finished before 6:30 because I can still go back to my room and watch Wheel of Fortune." And with that she spun her wheelchair around and scooted down the hall. I laugh to myself every time I think of that occasion.
Ed_Millis
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If you're "on stage" in front of a group, small and quick doesn't cut it. You have to compensate for fading eyes and ears.

If this is a care facility, don't ask them to remember complicated plots. Some may not even remember the card they picked.

Give them great respect - do not make them the butt of the joke.

Be careful asking what they thought of the magic - they will tell you!!

Ed
MAV
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You are right Ed! One advantage I have working with seniors is that I am one myself. It does make a difference. My wife also will accompany me at times to substitute as a volunteer in case I can't get one from the audience. Last time was close to Halloween and she dressed as Carmen Miranda. It was certainly age appropriate for the group as one elderly man flirted with her the whole time, Ha!!!
RitalDino
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One thing I noticed when working for this type of crowd (I mean prompt to digression, not old folks in particular) is not necessarily to shorten the material, but to have routines with different phases. This way I can stop the routine after a phase to have them discuss or interact and pick up where I left off. Of course it brings other problems such as trust in the fairness of your moves. When people stop paying attention, you can virtually do anything, so the fairness must be as complete as possible. Set the deck on the table when they are reacting, or put the balls on the cups in between two phases so that when you start again, no one asks you what was that weird move you did when they where talking.

Just a thought, though, and it might cause you problems you find bigger than just shortening your material. Biggest advantage is that you make time for interaction rather than try to cope with it.

Rital
Dick Oslund
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On the road, doing school assemblies, I was often booked for an evening 'parlor' show in nursing homes.

I did my elementary school program. If an audience assistant was needed, I used one of the nurses. That worked very well.

The biggest "rule" is K I S M I F ! (Keep It Simple, Make It Fun!) I've had elderly gentlemen laugh so hard that they fell off their chairs!

The "other rule" is COMMUNICATE! (Talk WITH them, not, AT, or TO them!

I'm 85, and, retired from 50 years on the road, and, I still do an occasional gig.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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P.S. Sometimes, the nursing home would invite the grand children of the elderly folks. The old timers really enjoyed watching the children enjoy the show.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
RitalDino
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As always, M. Oslund has got simple advices but the best possible ones!
jcrabtree2007
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Dick, as usual, gives great advice here.
I do nursing homes as volunteer work. My charge to the nursing facility is that they must advertise in their news letters to the families of their residents. I advertise as a "Children's Show" and focus my magic on entertaining the kids.
Honestly, the old folks just appreciate being entertained and having someone spend some time with them. But half of them will fall asleep or lose interest in the show. But no fill that hall with a bunch of little kids and you have created the best event of the year for the seniors. They will spend more time watching the children's reactions to your tricks than watching the tricks themselves.
Just be for-warned that the kids will be the stars of those show (fine with me- they are in my shows anyways). Its also a great way to get families to visit their grandma.
Dick Oslund
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Thanks all, for your very kind comments.

Many times, the nursing home would invite the grand children of the inhabitants. That made my job much easier, as many have noted above, the grandmas, and grandpas, really enjoyed watching the way the kids enjoyed the show.

The youngsters are "always ready" to be involved in the show.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
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