Marcophiles: Like the happy birthday song, only less interesting

CHRIS CURLE
The group dynamics are mutually interesting when youngsters volunteer their musical skills to entertain seniors at many retirement communities. Laurie Thannisch/Submitted

The group dynamics are mutually interesting when youngsters volunteer their musical skills to entertain seniors at many retirement communities. Laurie Thannisch/Submitted

Many of you know that some senior living centers invite children and teenagers who take music lessons to entertain residents of those facilities. Especially around this holiday time of year. So when my grandson Cade and others recently played for the residents at one such place, I asked him to tell me about that experience.

I was curious — what does a 13 year old think and feel about entertaining some nice people who are many decades older then he is?

"It's fun to entertain, to play for people," Cade says. " We do it four times a year. "It's fun to entertain, to play for people," Cade says. " We do it four times a year. It makes me feel good because I like to see happy people. They cheered and laughed and were happy. They applaud each piece. When we finish, we bow to them and they applaud some more."

I asked Cade whether the event offers a chance for him to chat with the residents.

"I don't usually get a chance to talk with them much, but after we play, they are very nice and they appreciate us. People say 'Very nice, good job, keep it up, you're good for your young age.' Some talk with us more than others, but I can tell they all like it."

Did they make requests, asking to hear a particular song?

"They don't make requests because it's a planned concert. Those in my age group played four pieces each, including one Christmas song.

"I chose 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' because I like it and its difficulty level is one above mine."

Cade also played "Arabesque," a classic piece, a Beatles' hit, "Eleanor Rigby," and one of his own compositions, "Coasters."

Was Cade nervous?

"I'm not really nervous anymore. When you're younger, you just go up and play the song. But when you're older, you say, 'Oh, there's a camera there.'

"Overall the experience is fun and it gets you ready for other things, like public speaking. I assume I'll have to do some public speaking eventually.

I told Cade surveys show that having to speak to a crowd of people is very high on the list of things most people fear.

"I would understand that, but piano would help with that because I've already played in front of people for most of my life. "Also, playing for older people is easier than playing for my peers, where there's more pressure.

I asked what he does if he messes up in one of his piano performances.

"I don't make too many mistakes, but when I do I just keep going and often the audience doesn't catch the error. And my teacher said never to start over, just keep on going."

Was there anything Cade doesn't like about doing the senior visits?

"Not really. Maybe the least fun is when the little kids play, because how many times do we have to hear some of those songs? One is called Mr. Turkey Man. It's ridiculous. Every year the three-, four- and five-year-olds play it. I played it too when I was that age.

"It's annoying, the same thing over and over, just quarter notes over and over. It's kind of like playing 'Happy Birthday To You,' only less interesting."

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. Email chris@chriscurle.com. Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. Email: don@donfarmer.com.

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