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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » Any Sage Advice For Nursing Homes? (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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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 wake up tomorrow with ONLY the things that you THANK GOD for today?
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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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.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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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.
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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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 aka dr laugh
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harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Ask about use of Gospel Songs.

Most are very open.

Sometimes you get a response like, sure play some Christmas songs, as long as they are not religious.


Keeping a sense of humor....here's a family friendly video on a Senior Citizen, (Papa Charlie-Nigel's Grand Puppet) talking about Facebook, TV and Church.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi60_szVFMQ


love brother Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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daffydoug
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Oh, we're definitely going to do gospel songs. That is what we have been practicing for these past several weeks. I've decided not to do any magic today (our first day of visiting) because I struggled with it and wrestled with it since I posted and couldn't think of the effects that I honestly in my gut feel would work in a nursing home.

As I said in an earlier post, most of my best stuff is in Arkansas in storage under my wife's control.,

But I do plan to read the poem as Jimmy Stewart (Beau) and I do plan to sing some gospel songs if the group allows me to open for them today.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Sounds good.

I would love to see a video of your Jimmmmmmmy Stewart doing the poem.

Finding what works for you at each venue (Priceless)


love and prayers

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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daffydoug
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Here is a link to the video. I have much improved the Jimmy voice since I recorded that a few years ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R9uSQB76......a_player
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
John Long
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I've started performing (parlor shows) at nursing and assisted living homes, they can be a tough crowd.

Some things that seemed to go well:
- I've used Abbots 5 card opener, and got more response from them than I expected (but much less than for a younger crowd).
- I've drawn some "droodles" (some from Laflin's Greater Gospel Magic, and culminated with drawing a lemon, and then pulling it off the page, transformed into a real lemon (in Tarbell)

- Clippo type effects
- sponge balls over your head (using a staff member as the "victim")
- Torn and flash restored newspaper (Anderson's)
- They really liked floating/bouncing a balloon in the audience to pick a spectator. Forget the magic that I did with this, they wanted to keep the balloon!

but as said above visual is always good for them

I'm still experimenting with how to approach this type of audience. I tend to share some personal stories, and I think that is appreciated too.
Breathtaking Magic;
Not Breath Taking
daffydoug
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We did the first one a few days ago. I skipped the magic entirely and did the Jimmy Stewart thing.

They really liked us. Saw some tears among them, and I don't think they were in pain from our performance.

Anyway, we got all positive feedback and they are almost begging for us to come back.

The choice of old time Gospel hymns was the correct choice. They knew the songs and sang along..

So the Lord is happy, and we are too. Will be doing another one soon..
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Sounds like your show was pleasing to His ears.

Tears along with laughter is ok in programs.

Love brother Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Like all shows, a variance of pace is good in Nursing Homes.

Last night I did one in a "Senior Independent Living" facility.

Opened from the back of the room, with Nigel.

As we moved forward "he" was singing to the ladies...Hey Good Looking.

We also slowed things down a bit for Love me tender on the ukulele and
Amazing Grace on the harmonica.

In between we talked about weather, hearing, allergies, medicine and baseball.
Nigel even got to do a bit where he sings the Baseball song..(take me out to the ballgame) while I brush my teeth.

May God continue to bless you and your ministry.

Love brother Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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daffydoug
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I would LOVE to get my vent stuff back in my posession and do some vent. I think it could be a hit. I like your description of what you did. Inspires me.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
daffydoug
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Actually, though, I was quite surprised. One of our members urged me on to do my Looney Toons voices (

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDpSHb-XY......a_player ) and I kept thinking no way these people will be able to relate to Bugs and the gang, but at his insistence I did them anyway, and the smiles and laughter were something I would have never expected.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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You made my morning.

I just finished working with a group of teens in a loss grief work.

We were talking about ways to lift our spirits.

You just lifted mine with your voice work.

Your video and you are delightful!

"that's all folks", or as Jesus said It is done.

Love brother Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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daffydoug
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Brother, that was a very sweet thing to say!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
sirbrad
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I have done these shows for almost 30 years, and I wrote an essay on them about 12 years ago and posted it on here. Retirement Homes were my first professional gig at age 15. It is true that the magician is the show but that is mostly ego speaking. Props are more important that most magicians think or want to give credit for. As a kid it was the gleaming props that caught my eye not the magician himself. He could stand there all day and pull his thumb off and tell jokes but I would still be looking at that those shiny cups and balls, crystal silk cylinder, magic boxes and tubes, tall bunnies (Hippity Hop Rabbits) Square Circle, and Crystal Botania Tube and flowers. I got that trick jusy so I could use it as opener and be able to display the prop and flowers for the rest of show. I still love props till this day, espeially quality props, and classics of magic.

Some look better than the perform but are still eye candy to attract spectators. I wondered if the props were magical or was it the magician who made them magical? Nonetheless I was captivated by them, maybe because I already had that magic eye for a good prop, but I see the same reaction from kids today at my shows and other magician's shows.

The magician brings the props to life and they are tools, and I already had this argument too many times on here before, but they are still important. What Dan is saying though that he can use pretty much any prop and make it part of an entertaining show, as can I. But "packs flat plays big" is not always necessarily true all the time, or just as good or better than larger props. They are more visual and attract more attention, especially for kids shows and seniors who struggle to see and hear. I have the DVDS as well and they are great. But I also love doing parlor with classic props, and I love to have them all around to create a classic "magic atmosphere" which is how it should be. Too many magicians these days want to "evolutionize" magic and only carry around stuff that "makes sense" and wear a t-shirt and cargo shorts.

That works for some however to me that is not magic as I am from the old school where magicians wore tuxes and suits, and their stage was full of magical looking props because he was a MAGICIAN! Things did not have to look "normal" because the show and the magician is MAGICAL. If I hired a magician that is what I would want, and that is what all my clients want. Kids don't want to see a guy in street clothes with "natural objects" that want to see rabbits running around (alive or prop) and taken into a magical world of fantasy by a magician that actually looks the part, and can be distinguished as such from the rest of the crowd. It called being a professional and looking your absolute best and providing your clients with the most magical looking show possible. Not dressing like a regular person every show, to me that is laziness and shows no enthusiasm for your art.

If you look like everyone else people are not going to appreciate you as much or take you as seriously. You should be dressed a level up at least not look like a hobo. Believe me I want the "organic" and "street magic" stage for years but in reality street magic is not a real venue in real life, unless as Jamy Ian Swiss says "You are on TV with a camera crew attached to your butt". No one wants to be bothered in the streets, they are in a hurry to get back to work, home, or their next destination. So basically you are harassing them. Not to be confused with busking, or strolling magic at a real venue where people expect entertainment. I also love combine sleight of hand with great gimmicks for maximum impact.
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
sirbrad
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Oh yeah here is my essay I wrote back then.

"Retirement Home Shows:


I have done these shows many years now and they can be a very difficult venue, or a very enjoyable one. At the request of another member at another forum site, I have written this essay on the subject. Here are some tips from my own personal experiences:

I was doing a show one time for a local birthday party, and one of the spectators came up to me and asked me where I usually perform. It was funny, because I didn't "usually" perform anywhere except at friend's houses, home, and at school, and I did a few shows once in a great while for fun as I was still pretty young. They were in disbelief that I had such a talent, and did not do it for a living and thought that I did it part-time at least. It just so happened that she worked at a retirement village, and said that they would love to see my show. So I went through with it, and even taped it, so I could evaluate myself later on. I remember being scared to death at first, but as the show went on, I lost all fear, and my concentration was finally on my performance fully.

That is how I started in that type of venue. I was then recommended, and my name was spread around to other facilities by the lady, and retirement village staff themselves. I got so many calls the following weeks I could not keep up with them! I didn't even have to advertise myself once! Sometimes this type of audience can be the greatest ever, and sometimes the worst. A lot of the people will sleep, cry out, not be able to see, or hear you, not even know you exist, will moan through out the show, may need medical treatment, etc. If someone cares solely about reactions, this may not be the type of work they would want. However sometimes I get huge reactions, especially with tricks involving easily understood props, such as flashy silks, sponge balls, other types of balls, rope, fire, flowers, jumbo cards, linking rings, comical stage props, etc.

You cant tax this type of audience mentally or physically, and you must make them as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Just being there with them will provide enjoyment more than you know. It can be a very tough audience or a very pleasant one, and you will never know what you're going to get. All you can do is perform as you always do just and pray for the best. It can be a very reliable venue financially as activity aids and residents of the homes are usually starved for entertainment! These homes get up to $5,000 per person, and even more I heard per month. So their entertainment budget should not be much of a problem. It was funny because before I did my first show for this particular center, they had some very bad so called entertainers.

They said they had a clown that was terrible, bad bands, singers, comedians, etc. Probably more people trying to pursue a living at something they were not quite ready for I exclaimed. They paid these people up to 4 times what I was asking, and was in disbelief at the end of the show that my fee was so cheap. Being it was my first professional show, and I was just starting out, I did not really consider $75.00 cheap, especially back then. I wanted to be sure I could do what I was selling that I could do, and it was a success. Heck the retirement home staff told me I should be getting at least $150.00! So that is pretty much how I began in this type of work environment. I was not aware of any "go rates" back then.

It was not until later that I began advertising, and made my own 6 panel (3 back to back) full color brochures, and business cards. I had the same problem back then that I still have today, whether to quit my day job for a full-time one in magic. I thought the risks would be too high for this area and was not sure it would be sought after enough to compensate my financial needs. Other factors played a role as well. I did not want magic to become a chore, and possibly lose interest later. I wanted to keep it fun, and not have it become stale. But eventually I went full-time and loved it!

Also you have to specially select your effects for this type of audience, and you should keep card effects limited, or anything that may be to difficult to see for this audience. The more visual, the better. You need to use a microphone of some sort, and I didn't know this until I was on stage that day. I had to immediately improvise, and do all my tricks around a cumbersome microphone stand. I caught on quick however, and adapted well. I also recommend that you get your own wireless type microphone, or headset type. Also plan on doing no more than 45 minutes tops, and generally around 30 minutes usually. It all depends on the situation at hand, and how much time the facility allows.

Small stage magic using a lot of the above items, is usually the best kind for this audience. Try to select effects that are mostly visual, and require very little thinking, or memory on their part. Close-up magic is tough to do on this audience, as all the people gathered around,(usually in wheel chairs) will not be able to see what you're doing. The more visual, and bigger the better. In some cases they can be the worst audience, and in other ways they can the best audience. Good visual tricks get big reactions, others less visual, or mentally demanding, expect total silence.

Even with some of the greatest effects that there are in magic, they just may not realize what you did. You need to just continue on and enjoy what you are doing. Some of these spectators don't have the ability to show reactions as they once did, but may be feeling a ton of joy deep inside. Never judge a book by its cover. Some spectators are also very astute, and will often surprise you with huge loud reactions! This is always an added thrill and bonus. Some may even curse loudly! I have had that on occasion.

If it is big reactions you seek solely, you may want to avoid this venue. However performing for this type of audience feels very rewarding in itself no matter how much appreciation is showed. You are providing them company, and an activity to be a part of, and in the end it was all worth it. A good way of starting, is to send them a brochure/flyer, along with your business card, then go from there. Usually if they like you they will tell other facilities about you right away, and recommend you! At least that was my case back then. This venue has its pros and cons just like any other, but overall it is a good way to make a living if one chooses to do so.

Make sure that you are able to improvise if necessary, and often you will. This kind of audience will really test you, not only as a performer but as an entertainer. It varies from day to day some days seem like hell, others go by very well. For the most part it is very enjoyable, especially if you love what you are doing regardless of who is watching. I hope this may help someone who may be interested in this line of work.

It is not easy, but it can be very rewarding in a lot of ways. If you can provide someone a little bit of joy and happiness who may not see many people, are feeling alone in the world, or whatever the situation may be, it is all worth it in the end."

Many do them for free, but usually if you do anything for free it is assumed that is all it is worth. This would be bad for magician's who are attempting to put food on the table for their families. The occasional free show here and there is fine, but if you want to make a living out of magic this is a very bad approach. Maybe the retirement homes themselves should have the same heart, and not charge $5,000 per resident also? In fact they were the ones who said that I should do magic for a living so I did! These institutions have an entertainment budget just for entertainers. Heck they even pay very bad ones at that, and up to four times the amounts of magicians. I actually saved a lot of facilities a lot of money, as they no longer have to settle for the duds they used to get.

They know what they are getting and are happy with it. Anyone who invests in the expensive art of magic and puts all the required time into it, is worth something. Unless you want to pay out of your own pocket your entire life or not do magic professionally, I don't condone doing many free shows. Everyone else in the facility is being paid for their services why should it be any different for the entertainer? It is a working venue like any other. At first after seeing how tough they were I wanted to charge more! Smile But there are many residents who also are very keen, and I had one guy yelling and cheering the entire show. I also had a lady in a wheelchair cursing, saying "That's BS...that S*** will drive you up the river!" Smile Some could walk and come on stage also. So don't assume that they are all droids who have no clue what is going on, you may be surprised.
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
daffydoug
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That was a great and informative post! I read it with great interest! And I'm going to keep in mind everything you said. 

Since my last post, I have been doing regular nursing home performances with my musical group, the Almond Branch. We are a ministry, and I play lead guitar. The folks seem to enjoy us, and we do it for the Lord. We have discovered that they really get a kick out of my Looney Toons voice impersonations, so we always try to include that in. 
But up to this point I haven't done any magic effects, but had spoken to the leader of our group and had decided that on the gig we are doing today, I would try a couple effects. So I'm going to go for it. I'll sure keep your good advice in the forefront of my mind as I do!!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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