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I had some trouble trying to decide in which forum this thread would fit - if it's better in a different site, please move it.

Last week I had a different experience that I thought I would share. I was on vacation and went to Minnesota to visit my mother at her retirement home. The residents are all (seemingly) 80+ years old, and they range in condition from independent living (where Mom is), to assisted living, to Alzheimer's patients. This is a very nice facility in Eden Prairie, MN. They have a performance room, in which various local groups and performers come to present concerts, or in some cases, use the room to rehearse.
When I go visit her, I always bring along some instrument to practice on. This time I brought with me my flute and clarinet, plus various books of music to practice in Mom's apartment.
My mother decided it would be nice if I played for the residents of the retirement home, so we went to the events planner and she thought that would be very nice. About 10 minutes later there were flyers in the elevators and the lobby, pitching my concert.
I was going to have to play without any accompaniment, using only music that I had brought with me (I'm legit-trained and can't play effectively by ear, especially unaccompanied). Luckily, I had some music that would work for the occasion (lots more was sitting at home in California).
I played flute first. I started with the Siciliana from the Bach Eb Flute Sonata, then the Debussy Syrinx (written for solo flute), and also a melodic etude from Andersen's 24 studies. I toyed with the idea of playing more Bach flute sonata music, but decided to switch to clarinet.
On clarinet I played the Gordon Jacob 5 Pieces for Solo Clarinet (left out the last movement), Rhapsody by Willson Osbourne (also solo clarinet), a Bach-influenced etude from an etude book, and finished with an arrangement of Amazing Grace. I toyed with the idea of playing the Stravinsky 3 Pieces, but chickened out. I knew Amazing Grace would be the closer - it's a good arrangement that starts out slow and simple and builds to a wild, jazzy climax. There is even a 2-octave Rhapsody in Blue - style gliss near the end. The whole concert was about 30 minutes long, which was about right for that audience.
I talked a little to introduce the individual pieces, which helped the listeners understand what I was doing a little better. At the opening of Amazing Grace, I heard several of the people humming along - how cool is that!
During the concert I was trying to judge how the audience was responding to my music, since it was a lot different that what they usually hear there. I got polite applause after each piece, but they all seemed to respond most to the Gordon Jacob piece that was his homage to JS Bach. Also, the Amazing Grace went over well. (My mother told me one of the little old ladies in front of her covered her ears when it got high and loud - how cute.)
Anyways, this was an unplanned, surprise recital performance that was a lot of fun. Later I realized I had never done anything like this before. According to the lady at the front desk, lots of people who had heard me were telling her how much they enjoyed it.
For me this was another opportunity to make an impact on other people's lives through music and enjoy the experience myself.
 

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Kudos to you for stretching and doing something new. Was it being unaccompanied or doing a spur of the moment performance that was new for you?
 

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Mike Letus said:
Kudos to you for stretching and doing something new. Was it being unaccompanied or doing a spur of the moment performance that was new for you?
Actually, it was really the combination of these 2 elements and also the extent of the project that was different for me. I've played various events unaccompanied - mostly family-related affairs, but they have been planned well in advance. This was 2 days notice. Also, the other unaccompanied occasions were just one or two pieces, and served as background music, not me alone on stage with an audience. The thing that was cool was that I luckily had appropriate music with me, and I was in good enough shape to pull these pieces off (I had been playing a lot of clarinet but not so much flute).
I'm in the process of convincing myself to perform a woodwind recital in the near future, so this was a really valuable experience for me.
 

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What a neat story and also a very encouraging one. Thanks for sharing it. I'm not surprised that the older folks loved the old song Amazing Grace. Easily recognizable and meaningful for a lot of them.

My mother was admitted into a nursing home last summer. I live in DC. She and the rest of my family are in Missouri. My family has visited twice in the last year and each time my three daughters have played the piano and sang for the folks. They were very appreciative and the whole situation was a tremendous learning experience for the girls. The girls received lots of compliments and encouragement to come back anytime. Now it's expected they'll perform.

This is a great non-threatening situation to get a little "stage" time to deal with or get over stage fright and I'd seriously doubt if you'd get much if any bad feedback regardless of what key you played in.
 
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