For Activity Directors & Education Folks
Creating activities for older audiences at assisted living and retirement communities presents a unique set of challenges.
While people of all ages appreciate good entertainment and lively music, with seniors, you have to specifically gear the show to match their needs.
If the show goes beyond just music, it has an enriching quality. If a show has consideration for the physical and emotional needs of this audience - and connects with them in a special way, that’s a great bonus.
So here’s what I keep in mind when writing and performing shows for seniors.
Play songs that recall happy memories
I like when audience members are inspired by my music to recall pleasant memories. Songs can automatically take them back to the time and place where they first heard it. It’s great when audience members smile and say “I know that that one. That’s one of my favorites!”
Steel Drum and Calypso music by nature is very rhythmic. It’s not uncommon for audience members to spontaneously sing along, dance, tap their toes and clap their hands. So I like to pick songs that are fun and catchy.
You have to please their eyes as well as their ears. My Sing-Along shows accomplish that by projecting the lyrics on a big screen along with fun visuals. Also my Steel Drums just look cool and so do my fancy Hawaiian shirts!
Not too loud!
This almost goes without saying. Hearing aids are very sensitive and the last thing you want to see is an audience member covering their ears. Hearing is precious, so I’m careful to avoid louder volumes and sudden increases.
Tell the story behind the song
The best songs tell a story with their lyrics. But sometimes the story behind the song can be just as interesting. So I try to include some background info on the song’s composer, where it was written and what it was about. It can be a great mini history lesson.
Take them on an armchair travelogue
A lot of people take cruises and vacations to warm sunny places with blue waters, sandy beaches, and great food and drinks. One of the finest exports from the tropical islands is the music. I sometimes talk about the music’s origins and life on the islands to give the audience the feel of the place where the music comes from. This stimulates their imaginations and makes them feel good.
Lift the spirit
As my Aunt Marie used to say “Growing old is no picnic!” Well then I say – “So let’s have a picnic!” If I can make my senior audiences happy or smile or dance or enjoy themselves in some way – that makes my day and makes all the rehearsing and hard work well worth it.
Did I miss anything? Do you have a tip for inspiring older audiences? Please post a comment below or reach me via my CONTACT page. I would be glad to hear from you.
For General Questions about Shows, Prices and Booking – visit my FAQ page.
How I got the name “Calypso Ted” is far from magical. I wish I could say that my first words as a baby were “Daaaay-O” from the Harry Belafonte song. I wish I could tell you that I was playing steel drums at carnival time in Trinidad and the other steel drummers started calling me “Calypso Ted.” Nope. Didn't happen.
Now I'm a guy who loves Calypso music and everything about steel drums. And my first name, coincidentally, is Ted.
In prior years you could find me through my websites - CoolPanMusic.com and SoundsTropical.com. Now these were nice descriptive names, but they didn’t convey who I am and what I'm passionate about.
Now this really happened. One evening, I was at the Reformation Brewery in my hometown of Woodstock GA at a Creative Circuit MeetUp. The special guest that evening was artist and speaker Von Glitschka. He gave a talk on Fear and Creativity. It got me thinking.
At the break, I was talking with two mind-blowingly talented artists - Daniel Flores aka DaCreativeGenius.com and WaymanHumphrey.com aka TheMaddPenciler about branding. They had cool names. What about me?
After singing for them the intro of Day-O, I mentioned the "Calypso Ted" idea to them. The guys liked it immediately. (FYI - singing “Daaaay-O” in a crowded brewery will turn a few heads.)
So that evening at 8:30PM - Calypso Ted was born – at 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 195 pounds. And yes – you could say that his first words were “Daaaay-O.”
For Steel Drum Fans and Party Planners
People often ask me how I got involved in music and how I found the Steel Drum and decided to make it my main focus. So here's short blog entry on how this all came about.
How did your get your start in music?
Well, I started out as a rock drummer in high school and then added jazz vibraphone to the mix. The vibraphone quickly became my favorite because I enjoyed playing melody, chords and improvising.
Years later when I was working on my music education degree, I had to cycle through all the band and string instruments. It reaffirmed that melodic percussion was my favorite thing.
How did you discover steel drums?
Back in high school, every year the Roberto Clemente High School Steel Band would come and play at lunchtime in our cafeteria. They were loud and proud. But I did not get hooked at that time since I was a rebel without a cause and was a fan of heavy metal and progressive rock music.
Fast forward to my college days. After one particularly stressful concert band rehearsal, I was walking down the corridor and heard the sound of live steel drums in the distance. It was like the pied piper was calling me! I followed the sound until I discovered a steel drummer playing in the school commons area. The music was just so happy and it was percussion - so I was hooked. Within a year, I had my own steel drum.
Tell me about that drum.
The story goes like this. After hearing that steel drum in college, I wanted to find out if I could really play the damn thing, so I signed up for one of the community steel bands at Harper College in Illinois. I liked playing, but to get better at it I needed to have a drum of my own.
Around this time my wife Joanne worked for an international company that had an office in Trinidad, the home of the steel pan. They sponsored a steel band during Carnival season. So she got in touch with the office manager who put us in touch with the steel band’s tuner and he made a D Lead Tenor drum.
What do you like about playing the Steel Drums?
Ihave a motto that sums up my philosophy toward making music. It says “Creating Joy Through Sound.” Of all the instruments I’ve played – the steel drums have an inherently happy sound that I find very satisfying. I really enjoy playing the island standards, calypso, tropical rock and reggae songs.
What is your approach to playing the steel drums?
I’m really like the older steel pan recordings of the 1950’s. This was when the drums were made from real oil drums and had a funky kind of sound. And I like the loose and free style that those guys played with. So I try to cop that kind of groove.
How old were you when you started playing steel drums?
I began to study the steel drum when I was in my 40’s! Now there are some music “teachers” who have the opinion that if you don’t start an instrument at an early age you’ll never fully master it. That may apply to people who want to succeed as a classically trained musician in the concert world, but for the rest of us opinions are changing.
Your age does not and should not matter. If you what to try something new and your heart’s into it – I say go for it.
What’s next for you?
I'm trying to keep my Youtube channel current, so click on the social media youtube button at the very top of this page and subscribe to my channel so you'll know when I post new videos. I've been stockpiling footage from a lot of gigs so I've got some new ones on the way.
This summer my muse visited me big time and I'm writing some original steel drum tunes that I hope to record and release soon..
I’m also very gratified and grateful for the popularity of my Edu-tainment programs. I keep refining them and try to add a new title every other school year.
Other then that, I’m blessed with good health, a loving wife and a daughter who’s now in college (music business major). So the hits just keep on coming! So post a Comment below or reach me via my CONTACT page. It would be great to hear from you !
For More Info on Shows, Prices and Bookings - visit the FAQ page.