PDA

View Full Version : Sing along songs for and elderly audience - suggestions?


Pages : [1] 2

wcap
03-11-2010, 09:45 AM
Sing along songs for an elderly audience - suggestions?

My family and I have been asked to do a musical performance at an apartment complex owned and run by our church. These are sort of retirement/assisted living apartments, and so most of the audience will be quite old.

I'm primarily a fingerstyle guitar player and banjo player, and I could easily fill an hour with original fingerstyle guitar stuff (on my classical and on my Goodall), along with some more familiar pieces like Classical Gas, I Can't Help Falling in Love with You, Shenandoah, etc (and on banjo, the Beverly Hillbillies theme, and a few other more traditional pieces). I could also add in a flatpicking arrangement or two ...e.g. Whiskey Before Breakfast.

An hour of just guitar (and banjo) will probably not be as interesting to the audience as it would be to me though, so at least half of the time will include my wife and daughter. They'll play a few flute duets, and we'll all play some stuff together (guitar + two flutes, or guitar + flute + violin) ...traditional walzes (e.g. Star of the County Down, some traditional Finnish walzes, etc) and some Irish fiddle tune type stuff.

But I suspect what this audience would enjoy more than anything might be some sing along stuff. When the middle school and high school kids in the church put together an event for for the folks in these apartments a while back there was some fantastic classical violin playing that got only modest applause, but then my daughter played Danny Boy on trumpet - a much simpler piece - and the audience started singing along, and she got a standing ovation.

SO, do any of you have any suggestions for good sing-along music that might be fun for an elderly audience like this (and that would not be too hard for me/us to learn some simple accompaniment for quickly)?

wcap
03-11-2010, 09:49 AM
And....

Do you have any suggestions for choice of keys for sing-along music? I guess this would depend in part on the song.

I'm sort of clueless about this sort of thing, though my wife would probably have some good insights.

vintageom
03-11-2010, 10:06 AM
Today Randy Sparks/John Denver
You Are My Sunshine traditional
Sunshine On My Shoulders John Denver
I Can't Help Falling In Love With You Elvis
Greensleeves traditional
Take Me Home, Country Roads John Denver
Leaving On A Jet Plane John Denver/PP&M
On The Road Again Willie Nelson
Dueling Banjos Eric Weissberg
Song Sung Blue Neil Diamond
Time In A Bottle Jim Croce
Amazing Grace gospel
America The Beautiful traditional

Brian Hague
03-11-2010, 10:14 AM
The above recommendations are all good. Since it's church-owned, you could throw in some more gospel songs:

I'll Fly Away
The Old Rugged Cross
Just a Closer Walk With Thee

etc.

M19
03-11-2010, 10:15 AM
Go back further!

Try some Stephen Foster tunes. Easy chord patterns and good sing-a-long classics (without needing lyrics sheets).

http://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/songs.htm

wcap
03-11-2010, 10:26 AM
Great suggestions so far. I think the Stephen Foster suggestion is particularly good - really familiar songs and lots of people (especially older people) know the words.

For this event, I just wish I was more of this sort of musician.

I don't have a lot of experience performing in front of others in general, and this guitar+singing thing is not my thing.

But, I think this is a very appreciative and forgiving audience. I think, one way or another, we'll brighten their day a bit.

CottonPickin
03-11-2010, 10:28 AM
Check out songs from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Maybe 50s. This was a golden age of song; you will find hundreds of great songs.

A few ideas:
I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
Love Letters in the Sand
April Showers
Blue Skies
Side by Side
You Are My Sunshine
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
Moon River

As for the key, just remember that older people lose their singing range, especially the upper notes.

Guitardedboy
03-11-2010, 10:30 AM
-This Land is Your Land
-WildFire
-Big Rock Candy Mountain (my grandmother used to play guitar and sing this to me)

Brian Hague
03-11-2010, 10:31 AM
I played at a HS reunion once, and the honor classes were from the '50s and the '20s. We played True Love Ways by Buddy Holly, a medley of You Send Me and Bring It On Home To Me by Sam Cooke (Rod Stewart did the same combination on one of his albums), and for the older folks, Moonlight and Roses.

wcap
03-11-2010, 10:31 AM
http://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/songs.htm

Wow, I had no idea that Foster wrote quite this many songs. And this list doesn't even seem to be complete (I didn't find Oh Susanna, for example).

Bravejoy
03-11-2010, 10:38 AM
Remember that "quite old" is also quite relative.

I was just thinking about my generation. We're in our 60's now (quite old to our children), and when we get in that situation, we'd probably best respond to songs from the late 50's up into the 70's.

As a guess then, those in their 70's -- late 40's to 60's
80's -- late 30's to 50's
etc.

There are always some people who would also respond to much older songs, but I'm not sure most people would.

Not a hard and fast rule, but something to think about.

Wilburman
03-11-2010, 10:50 AM
Que Sera Sera is an absolute winner.

Other suggestions:
Let the Rest of the World Go By
One Day At a Time
Make the World Go Away
Back Home Again
Tennessee Waltz
Amazing Grace
Edelweiss
Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

grampa
03-11-2010, 11:02 AM
Sligthtly off topic, I have a recording of Harry Nilsson singing at a retirement home in England and the song they are all singing along with has the line "I'd rather be dead than wet my bed". Kind of amusing but not something to do unless it was worked out with the audience ahead of time.

Xpiotiavos
03-11-2010, 11:10 AM
I worked at a nursing home for over a year and played my guitar for them a few times. We also had some outside entertainment come in once in a while, and the songs they could sing along to always went over well. They played a lot of examples on this list (http://www.songsforteaching.com/folk/). Good luck!

M19
03-11-2010, 11:14 AM
Wow, I had no idea that Foster wrote quite this many songs. And this list doesn't even seem to be complete (I didn't find Oh Susanna, for example).

Au...contrarie! From site:

Oh! Boys Carry Me 'Long (1851)
words and music by Foster

Oh! Lemuel! (1850)
words and music by Foster

Oh! Susanna (1848)
words and music by Foster

Oh! Tell Me of My Mother (1861)
words and music by Foster

Oh! There's No Such Girl as Mine (1863)
words: Samuel Lover; music: Foster

Oh! 'tis Glorious (1863)
words: Edward Nevin; music: Foster

Oh! Why Am I so Happy? (1863)
words: Francis D. Murtha; music: Foster

string1399
03-11-2010, 11:23 AM
Country Roads - John Denver
Teach Your Children - CSN
The Last Farewell - Roger Whitaker
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain - Willie Nelson
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Dead Skunk - Loudon Wainwright:)

grampa
03-11-2010, 11:52 AM
Wow, I had no idea that Foster wrote quite this many songs. And this list doesn't even seem to be complete (I didn't find Oh Susanna, for example).

Foster is sometimes referred to as the first "pop song" writer.

K III
03-11-2010, 12:08 PM
Highway to Hell
She shook me all night long
Back in Black

Make sure you get the riffs right on your acoustic.

Tafmutt
03-11-2010, 12:09 PM
Great suggestions so far. I think the Stephen Foster suggestion is particularly good - really familiar songs and lots of people (especially older people) know the words.

For this event, I just wish I was more of this sort of musician.

I don't have a lot of experience performing in front of others in general, and this guitar+singing thing is not my thing.

But, I think this is a very appreciative and forgiving audience. I think, one way or another, we'll brighten their day a bit.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. Case in point: Three female friends of mine who jokingly called themselves "The Lemon Sisters" lip-synched some standards for some Iwo Jima veterans at a reunion. The audience went nuts. All the vets could talk about after the "show" was that the "Lennon Sisters" had come to their reunion to sing for them...and, boy, could they sing!

Just have fun.

TM

Guitardedboy
03-11-2010, 12:11 PM
Let's Get Physical by Olivia Newton John

While playing have someone give them a 30 pound medicine ball to throw back and forth to each other.

wcap
03-11-2010, 12:25 PM
Wow. So many good suggestions. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities (and by the fact that we only have until next Tuesday to prepare)....more suggestions are still more than welcome though!

I think for this time around we'll probably pick just a few sing along songs and try to work them in, but I can see that this sort of audience might have the most fun if we spent most of our time doing this sort of thing. Maybe we can be better prepared if we do this again at some point. It would probably help also if I were less shy about solo singing in public.

As for "quite old" being a relative thing. Yes, absolutely. But I think we are talking about "quite old" by any human standards here. Not 60's. Maybe more along the lines of mid to late 70's, 80's, and 90's (though even in these age ranges, there are folks in their 70's and even 80's who are younger in a functional sense than many others in their early 60's).

bshpmark
03-11-2010, 12:48 PM
When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
The Great Speckled Bird
In the Sweet Bye and Bye
On The Jericho Road
Amazing Grace

AZLiberty
03-11-2010, 06:37 PM
And....

Do you have any suggestions for choice of keys for sing-along music?


The key of D/Bm is very forgiving to most voices. You can just play in C/Am and capo II if you like.

In my own songbook I have odd notes that say things like "capo-2 if late at night". So be flexible.

G is popular key for women (in general), and I can sing up there, but might be a stretch for older men.

wcap
03-11-2010, 11:11 PM
The key of D/Bm is very forgiving to most voices. You can just play in C/Am and capo II if you like.

In my own songbook I have odd notes that say things like "capo-2 if late at night". So be flexible.

G is popular key for women (in general), and I can sing up there, but might be a stretch for older men.

Thank you for the suggestions.

sixiron150
03-12-2010, 11:24 PM
O Death - Ralph Stanley
Ain't No Grave - Johnny Cash
As the life of a Flower - Traditional
Where have all the good times gone - Van Halen

Kitchen Guitars
03-13-2010, 05:07 AM
Think about what they listened to in their teens. Anything from Woodstock :D

HarleySpirit
03-13-2010, 05:30 AM
You might be surprised, how many join in to sing along to "The Eagles" eg. Peaceful Easy Feelin, or "The Beatles" eg. Seventeen. :)

Herb Hunter
03-13-2010, 06:49 AM
I have played for older audiences and they always respond best to older songs. Someone mentioned the Doris Day song, What Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera), that is exactly the type of song that generates a lot of enthusiasm. Others, to consider (in versions that are likely to be well received):

Magic Is the Moon Light - Dean Martin
Those Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer - Nat King Cole
In the Good Old Summertime - Les Paul and Mary Ford
Good Night Irene - Les Paul and Mary Ford
Vaya Con Dios - Les Paul and Mary Ford
El Paso - Marty Robbins
Red River Valley - Marty Robbins
Return to Me - Marty Robbins
Yours (Quiereme Mucho) Marty Robbins
Home on the Range - Burl Ives
Down In the Valley - Burl Ives
Old Paint - Burl Ives
San Antonio Rose - Gene Autry (I used John Denver's version)
Old Kentucky Home - Gene Autry
You Are My Sunshine - Fats Domino
Cold, Cold Heart - Hank Williams
Shenandoah - Harry Belafonte
My Blue Heaven - Gene Austin
Crazy - Patsy Cline
Happy Trails - Roy Rogers

Newer songs that go over well:

Yesterday, When I Was Young - Roy Clark
Roses Are Red (My Love) - Bobby Vinton
Country Roads - John Denver
Where Have All the Flowers Gone - Peter, Paul and Mary
This Land is Your Land - Peter, Paul and Mary

Almost all of these can be sampled on iTunes.

Hack Amatuer
03-13-2010, 07:45 AM
If they're elderly and can still sing, etc. then they would be 65 to 85. I would do a few sing a long songs from about 1945 to 1965 as that's the approximate time they were late teens early 20's.

60's era "daddy takes the Tbird away" Beach Boys
50's era "Rock around the clock" Bill Haley & the Comets
40's era "hey good looking" Hank Williams

things that are commonly known like that

paulin
03-13-2010, 08:07 AM
Our band plays a ton of rest homes and assisted living facilities and we find they love the 30's and 40's pop songs and many, many of the "older" generation LOVE classic country music, Hank Williams Sr. etc.