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Old 03-11-2010, 09:45 AM
wcap wcap is offline
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Default Sing along songs for and elderly audience - suggestions?

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)?

Last edited by wcap; 03-11-2010 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 03-11-2010, 09:49 AM
wcap wcap is offline
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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.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:06 AM
vintageom vintageom is offline
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Default Choices

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
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:14 AM
Brian Hague Brian Hague is offline
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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.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:15 AM
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M19 M19 is offline
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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
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:26 AM
wcap wcap is offline
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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.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:28 AM
CottonPickin CottonPickin is offline
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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.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:30 AM
Guitardedboy Guitardedboy is offline
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-This Land is Your Land
-WildFire
-Big Rock Candy Mountain (my grandmother used to play guitar and sing this to me)

Last edited by Guitardedboy; 03-11-2010 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:31 AM
Brian Hague Brian Hague is offline
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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.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:31 AM
wcap wcap is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M19 View Post
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).
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:38 AM
Bravejoy Bravejoy is offline
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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.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:50 AM
Wilburman Wilburman is offline
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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
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:02 AM
grampa grampa is offline
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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.
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:10 AM
Xpiotiavos Xpiotiavos is offline
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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. Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:14 AM
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M19 M19 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcap View Post
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
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