How I've Made Music My Full-Time Gig
6. Nursing Homes
With so many gigs that happen on the evenings and weekends, I realized I needed to fill up my daytime hours. I brainstormed different possibilities, and nursing homes came to mind. I’ve been playing at the assisted living homes and nursing homes where my grandparents live since high school and have found that seniors are a welcoming and encouraging audience.
At first, I struggled to find gigs. When I lived in Denver, it was hard to find the email addresses for activity directors and, consequently, hard to find bookings. In the Twin Cities, I didn’t fare much better until I did a volunteer gig at a memory care facility.
At this gig, I met a couple who does over 300 nursing home gigs a year. They asked me to play a couple gigs with them and soon after asked me to sub for gigs they couldn’t play. This continues to be a great connection to have, and we become good friends.
I longed to fill my calendar with more of these gigs, so I asked one of the activity directors how I could book more. She told me that whenever she was sent a flyer in the mail, she booked them almost immediately. I heeded her advice and mailed letters advertising my music programs to all the nursing homes I could find via Google.
This was the breakthrough I had been looking for, and I got a great response (about 35% compared with 5-10% for other forms of marketing). I’ve found that most places will book me a few times a year, giving me steady income and solid relationships in the community.
Another benefit of doing nursing home programs has been the opportunity to develop new skills. Singing has not always been my forte but has been a skill I have wanted to hone for a while. Seniors were a non-threatening audience where I could practice my singing without feeling a lot of pressure. Now I really enjoy singing Sinatra and Elvis and have literally found my voice. With more than 50 songs under my belt, I am consider myself more of a singer and have been able to add this to my repertoire for other events.
On top of that, I feel encouraged and truly appreciated each and every time I perform. I love to see how much they enjoy the shows and how much it means to them that I come. They truly are one of my favorite audiences!
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Nate Hance is a professional pianist, entertainer and composer living in St. Paul, MN. He grew up in Minot, ND but has traveled around the world playing music. You can listen to the six albums that he has written as well as check out his goofy music videos on YouTube