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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The tricks are on me! » » Close-Up Magic at Nursing Homes (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

kalagar
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Hello Magic Café! First time poster here...

Over the summer and the start of the school year I performed close-up magic at a nursing home. The magic was room-to-room and I was just hoping for some ideas for close-up magic that would be entertaining for the elderly patients. I have performed sponge balls multiple times with great reactions and also a bunch of different card effects (ACR, 2 card monte, etc.). I am looking to expand my repertoire with not only close up magic but also some magic that can be performed for larger crowds (10ish ppl). Also most of the time there is no table that I can work with, so most of my tricks are in-the-hands. Thanks in advance!
plink
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Consider a variety of props: paddle/color changing knives, ring & string, ring & rope, TT routines, coin magic, rubber bands, paper money/ bill change, seasonal effects, match box effects, IT effects, rope (fiber optics). There are many variations of each of the listed items and lots of items that aren't listed. Don't forget novelty items like Ammars 'Little Hand'. Have fun spread fun, you're doing a good thing!
kalagar
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Quote:
On Nov 26, 2016, plink wrote:
Consider a variety of props: paddle/color changing knives, ring & string, ring & rope, TT routines, coin magic, rubber bands, paper money/ bill change, seasonal effects, match box effects, IT effects, rope (fiber optics). There are many variations of each of the listed items and lots of items that aren't listed. Don't forget novelty items like Ammars 'Little Hand'. Have fun spread fun, you're doing a good thing!


Hey, Thanks for the great information! Im currently working on fiber optics and some rubber band magic. Thanks again!
MAV
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That is a great list plink.

I also might add that when you are performing in that group of 10, try the Crystal Tube. You will have enough distance between you to make the magic happen. The thing I like about Crystal Tube is that it involves three different colored scarves. You can have each scarf represent a different benefit they experience at the rest home. One example: Friendship, skilled care and cozy room. And when you combine all three of these here at Pleasant Acres, (blow the silks out of the crystal tube) everything just "ties together."

It makes for smiles on the audience because they can identify with it and the rest home will love you for it!!
jcrabtree2007
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Remember that a lot of the old folks have poor eyesight so bigger is better with them. With that said, d'lites work very well for that crowd
Woodini
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I have been working nursing homes in this area. Each time was a room of about 50 people, and each had various levels of care including dementia. I learned quickly that magic for this crowd is much like children's magic, except these people have adult thoughts. By that I mean the magic needs to be simple but not be childish. Here are a few pointers: They can't see well so use big props. Talk loud because they can't hear very well. Keep it simple and use adult themes. Don't expect them to remember what card was picked. Don't expect volunteers to join you because many of them can not walk or stand well. A couple examples: I use giant hippity-hop rabbits dressed as adult rabbits. Giant size cards. A giant size square circle with a stuffed animal load. They love stuffed animals. Use lots of large colorful silks. I have seen magicians flop by not understanding these people. By considering the above, I was asked to return three times.
Dick Oslund
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@ the OP, and others who have responded:

In later years, the various school assembly agencies that I worked with, began to book more and more nursing homes, assisted living facilities, mental hospitals, drug rehabilitation facilities, reform schools, prisons, etc.

I soon realized that the criteria I had used in planning and developing my program for schools (primary, elementary, middle, and high schools) made my program appropriate for these groups, too.

I'm "up" early this AM, and, need to get my fingers "loosened up", so, I'll list the criteria, from my book, that I used, years ago, to plan and develop my program.

>>I needed to create a show that could/would play almost anywhere, for almost anybody! So, I did, and, it did, for many years!<

Here are the CRITERIA:

>>In general, the "basic rule" is/was: K I S M I F. (An acronym for: "Keep It Simple Make It Fun")<<

1. VISUAL EFFECT -- The EFFECT (i.e.: what the spectator(s) perceive) does not "happen" under cover (of a tube, box, bag, handkerchief, etc.) The spectator(s) can SEE "it", as it happens.

2. VISIBLE PROP -- Not necessarily a "big" box, tube, etc., but, don't do a rope trick with white rope, while wearing a white shirt, or a trick with a red silk, while wearing a red shirt, or a black egg bag, while wearing a black shirt!

3. VERSATILE EFFECT, AND PROP -- The show should appeal to all ages. ("childish" and "childlike", are different!)

4. ANGLE PROOF -- ANY Angle.

5. RECOGNIZABLE PROP -- No "obviously trick" boxes, or "magical apparatus". from the Victorian era! No "red velvet bags on a stick" (change bags) GENERIC PROPS, like rope, silks, balls (sponge and golf) cards, etc., can be used for more than one trick! E.g.: The same "silks" for "Slydini Knots" can be used for Dante's "Lazy Magician".

6. LITTLE-OR-NO SET UP -- Instantly repeatable when strolling (bedside, table hopping) I often did 3-4 shows a day, plus travel between schools, and, time was critical. I could be ready to work, within 4-5 minutes, after arriving "on stage", and, be ready to leave in about 2 minutes! --Privacy for loading birds, etc., was often "non existent". Props came out of the prop case, or pockets, and, were returned to their designated place in the case, or pocket. (NO "DITCH" BAGS!!)

7. NO TABLE, OR "WORKING SURFACE", NECESSARY. (SPECTATOR(S) SEATED ON CHAIRS, WITH PERFORMER STANDING ON FLOOR, WOULD MAKE ANY "TABLE TOP" PROP, "INVISIBLE" TO THOSE NOT IN THE FRONT ROW!

8. SPOT ADAPTABLE TRICK -- Could be opener, middle, or closer. (Vanishing bird cage is, generally an opening trick. Professor's Nightmare can open, close, or play effectively, in the "middle".)

9. PACKS SMALL, AND LIGHT, PLAYS BIG!

10.WINDPROOF!!! -- Programs in California schools, were often presented on playgrounds!

It took a bit of time to plan! (Fail to plan, and, you plan to fail!)

Planning a show that could work almost anywhere, for almost anyone, made 50 years on the road, easier--and, more fun to do!

I hope that this is helpful!

Remember Al Baker's (old pro'. and seasoned veteran's) advice: "It's alright to do tricks that YOU like! BUT!!! BE SURE THAT THE AUDIENCE LIKES THEM, TOO! --OR, YOU MAY HAVE TO ENJOY THEM BY YOURSELF!!!!!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Nickoli Sharpe
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This is interesting, I made a few calls over this past spring to a few elder care facilities.

They have a budget and really love having a show for the folks to go to.
Normally they are done in the common room and they are a great audience.

If you have never tried to book one I highly recommend it.
Coolmanclyde
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To the OP and Nickoli: would you expand on the process and what to expect when approaching these facilities. What should I ask and how much? I'm not in it for the money but what is a fair price to be expected? Or do you find that most is fully volunteer ?
BeThePlunk
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I plan to contact assisted living facilities for performances soon, so this thread seems like the right place to ask this question: How long should a show be? I've heard general advice ranging from 20 to 40 minutes. I've heard some people say 5 tricks and others say 9. There doesn't seem to be much agreement.

And an assisted living facility is a unique setting anyway. What has your experience taught you?

I've also thought of performing a stand-up show with some close-up visits with residents in the common room before and after.

Thank you for any guidance.
Dick Oslund
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There's a story about Abraham Lincoln, and a rather cynical newspaper reporter. (Remember, Lincoln was a TALL man.) The reporter asked, Mr. President, how long should a man's legs be? Abe had been "teased" before! He smiled, and replied, "Long enough to reach the ground!"

For a "formal, sit down program" in a meeting room, (it takes some "effort" to move people in wheel chairs.) I usually did my 45 minute school program. (See above, my May '17 post.) I always asked the staff person, and, that time was almost always agreeable. For strolling to rooms, about 5 minutes, depending on various circumstances. (the number of rooms, and the individual patients)

KISMIF! Remember also, the "Three Ts". --Tempo, Time, and Timing!! Keep the show, "moving", BUT, don't rush. Don't earn the "Chinese billing": "ONN TU LONG"! and, don't just "run" through material. (A "whole book" could be written about timing!

"...5 tricks, and other say 9" means nothing! --The Vanishing Bird Cage EFFECT ("EFFECT" is what the spectator PERCEIVES!) "lasts" a couple of seconds! but Harry Blackstone Jr.'s presentation, got ten minutes "out of it!"

Often, for a "sit down show" in the recreation room, the grand children would attend the show, too. the patients, enjoyed the children's fun.

The assembly bureau charged the regular fee for my program. The facilities, do have a budget.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Dec 28, 2016, MAV wrote:
That is a great list plink.

I also might add that when you are performing in that group of 10, try the Crystal Tube. You will have enough distance between you to make the magic happen. The thing I like about Crystal Tube is that it involves three different colored scarves. You can have each scarf represent a different benefit they experience at the rest home. One example: Friendship, skilled care and cozy room. And when you combine all three of these here at Pleasant Acres, (blow the silks out of the crystal tube) everything just "ties together."

It makes for smiles on the audience because they can identify with it and the rest home will love you for it!!


The problem with the Crystal Tube is that is is not "ready to eat" out of the box!

The instructions do not tell, or show you, how to "do the necessary" without getting the 'things' in the incorrect position. I've seen it done with a corner of one silk tied to the middle of the second silk, etc. Further, they don't show you how to keep from getting your fingers stuck, as you "do the necessary".

The instructions do not explain how to make the "knots" believable.

In my book, ("Dick Oslund--Road Scholar") I explain those important points, so that the action appears professional.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
paul180
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On Jan 31, 2017, jcrabtree2007 wrote:
Remember that a lot of the old folks have poor eyesight so bigger is better with them. With that said, d'lites work very well for that crowd


Very good advice and amplify your voice with a sound system. Hearing goes too. Lastly although this forum is about performing for free, nursing homes have entertainment budgets and you can get paid? Just saying;)
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a foolish man can learn from a wise answer.

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Waters.
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Dick's advice is great. I can't add much to what he said about material, but what I can add is what I call the "bankshot" principle. This is simply the idea that if you use friendly and likeable staff and they seem engaged, laughing and amazed, you will win the hearts and minds of those under their care. I have learned the hard way about some routines with even simple memory requirements... don't do it. I even asked staff which residents were "higher functioning", but my experience is that they will pick people who have higher social capacity, but the memory can still be a challenge. Win the staff, win the group.
Sean Waters' Mentalism:
www.experience-architecture.com
Signet
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I am a nurse who worked in nursing homes. The ones I were in had no entertainment budget. The director would probably laugh out loud if you mentioned getting paid. They were lucky to make the payroll every month. One place I worked, this Polka band would come and play once a month for free. They used it for a rehearsal and would work on new tunes. The residents really loved it whenever they came. They would all talk about it for days.
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On May 10, 2017, Dick Oslund wrote:
@ the OP, and others who have responded:

In later years, the various school assembly agencies that I worked with, began to book more and more nursing homes, assisted living facilities, mental hospitals, drug rehabilitation facilities, reform schools, prisons, etc.

I soon realized that the criteria I had used in planning and developing my program for schools (primary, elementary, middle, and high schools) made my program appropriate for these groups, too.

I'm "up" early this AM, and, need to get my fingers "loosened up", so, I'll list the criteria, from my book, that I used, years ago, to plan and develop my program.

>>I needed to create a show that could/would play almost anywhere, for almost anybody! So, I did, and, it did, for many years!<

Here are the CRITERIA:

>>In general, the "basic rule" is/was: K I S M I F. (An acronym for: "Keep It Simple Make It Fun")<<

1. VISUAL EFFECT -- The EFFECT (i.e.: what the spectator(s) perceive) does not "happen" under cover (of a tube, box, bag, handkerchief, etc.) The spectator(s) can SEE "it", as it happens.

2. VISIBLE PROP -- Not necessarily a "big" box, tube, etc., but, don't do a rope trick with white rope, while wearing a white shirt, or a trick with a red silk, while wearing a red shirt, or a black egg bag, while wearing a black shirt!

3. VERSATILE EFFECT, AND PROP -- The show should appeal to all ages. ("childish" and "childlike", are different!)

4. ANGLE PROOF -- ANY Angle.

5. RECOGNIZABLE PROP -- No "obviously trick" boxes, or "magical apparatus". from the Victorian era! No "red velvet bags on a stick" (change bags) GENERIC PROPS, like rope, silks, balls (sponge and golf) cards, etc., can be used for more than one trick! E.g.: The same "silks" for "Slydini Knots" can be used for Dante's "Lazy Magician".

6. LITTLE-OR-NO SET UP -- Instantly repeatable when strolling (bedside, table hopping) I often did 3-4 shows a day, plus travel between schools, and, time was critical. I could be ready to work, within 4-5 minutes, after arriving "on stage", and, be ready to leave in about 2 minutes! --Privacy for loading birds, etc., was often "non existent". Props came out of the prop case, or pockets, and, were returned to their designated place in the case, or pocket. (NO "DITCH" BAGS!!)

7. NO TABLE, OR "WORKING SURFACE", NECESSARY. (SPECTATOR(S) SEATED ON CHAIRS, WITH PERFORMER STANDING ON FLOOR, WOULD MAKE ANY "TABLE TOP" PROP, "INVISIBLE" TO THOSE NOT IN THE FRONT ROW!

8. SPOT ADAPTABLE TRICK -- Could be opener, middle, or closer. (Vanishing bird cage is, generally an opening trick. Professor's Nightmare can open, close, or play effectively, in the "middle".)

9. PACKS SMALL, AND LIGHT, PLAYS BIG!

10.WINDPROOF!!! -- Programs in California schools, were often presented on playgrounds!

It took a bit of time to plan! (Fail to plan, and, you plan to fail!)

Planning a show that could work almost anywhere, for almost anyone, made 50 years on the road, easier--and, more fun to do!

I hope that this is helpful!

Remember Al Baker's (old pro'. and seasoned veteran's) advice: "It's alright to do tricks that YOU like! BUT!!! BE SURE THAT THE AUDIENCE LIKES THEM, TOO! --OR, YOU MAY HAVE TO ENJOY THEM BY YOURSELF!!!!!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
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