Performing in retirement homes. Also thinking about forming a duo/trio.


I'm considering offering to play for residents in some local retirement and nursing homes. I've thought about a mixture of popular swing and jazz tunes, some light classics, some Christmas tunes nearer that time etc, with or without backing tracks. On tenor or alto, haven't decided yet.
Is there anything I need to consider that I may not have thought about playing this time of venue/audience.

How do you think is best to approach the manager/staff of the homes? Phone initially or go introduce myself in person?

Also I'm thinking about looking for another player (or two) to form a duo (a/t) or a trio (s/a/t), (a/t/b, a/a/t). Will ask if anyone from the band I play with (Derby Hospitals Band) is interested initially then will ask further afield.

Can anyone suggest some books of nicely arranged duets/trios of familiar tunes in various styles for around the grade 4-6 level?

There are a lot of books out there but most are mail order and I'm wary of spending money on music that may not be what I'm really looking for.



Sax-Mad fiend!
Café Supporter
The Malverns, Worcs
Hi Mandy...
we have played a few times in care homes etc.

I'd say the manager is the best person to approach, explain what you are and what you can offer and ask if there is a time / day that would best suit them.

We did a gig on Christmas eve last year, part of me was worried about leaving my own family for a couple of hours to go and entertain a load of strangers, but they were so thrilled to have us there, that it really started my Christmas well. :welldone

We've also played outdoors at care home open days in the summer.

As for music, stuff from the youth of the residents goes down well, so anything popular from 1920's to 1960's is likely to be good.

There are some free-music web-sites, which have duo, trio or quartet style arrangements. About 50% of our pieces are from free sites (we are SATB sax quartet)

The first time we played, I was worried about the fact that a sax quartet is very loud and the sitting room we played in was fairly small, however (sweeping generalisation coming up) most of the residents were pretty deaf so they actually really appreciated that they could hear us! :)))

All the best with your plans, it's a wonderful idea
Mandy :D


ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Just north of Munich
Mandy, sterling advice from Mandy.

What little I've done of this was with choir at Christmas. And they always wanted the old favourites, even if the choir were sick of them and wanted to do something more modern. My wife's found the same.

Another avanue for this is a difficult one - perhaps the annual hospice memorial service. (At least here, they do this, around all souls). Very difficult, but it helps give the bereaved final solace. Can be difficult staying in tune as the instruments get really cold.


Busking Oracle
Rugby UK
Hi Mandy, like Kev said, some great advice from Mandy and now Kev too. What I would suggest would be some real toe tapping stuff. Everybody does oldies presuming that that's what oldies want to hear, but sometimes they want hear something a bit more modern and with a beat that they can dance to. If they can't physicaly get up and dance then they'll swing their legs, feet and anything else that they can wave around. These folk may be elderly but they are far from past it.
I have always used backing tracks to great effect.
The only other bit of advice that I can give is to have fun. No one likes a miserable entertainer

Nick Wyver

Café Supporter
Minster On Sea
If they're anything like the inhabitants of the place where my mum is, you'll need to be LOUD.


Well-Known Member
Good on you. Very enterprising, and it'll cheer the poor old sods up a bit (I spend too much of my time in "retirement homes" and they aren't exactly aspirational for we old gits still equipped with marbles......)

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