Shrunk Expand

Eldercare music project


David Reffkin’s performance and teaching careers sometimes combine to initiate a new venture. He designs and presents programs for adults who wish to enjoy live music and engage in creative educational activities. The following proposal describes a typical presentation of these ideas for a nonprofit community group:


Proposal: Music Presentations for an Eldercare Organization



An eldercare organization provides benefits for its membership by offering services to the aged population in their homes and in the community. The outline of its goals and specific functions may be augmented and improved with a plan for a series of musical activities as described in this proposal.

The organization is young, though actively building its membership. The objective of extending the reach of contact from the members at home to the community at large can in part be accomplished through musical presentations.

This proposal addresses three needs for an eldercare organization:

  • the need of the members for social interaction and mental stimulation to remain as active and engaged as possible as they age
  • the need of the organization to reach out to local residents and build membership
  • the need of the organization to attract philanthropic support


Regularly scheduled musical events consist of performances and talks on given themes. All events are in the same central, easily accessible location. The themes are drawn from a very wide spectrum of genres, styles and historical periods. The proportion of music and discussion varies as appropriate for the topic. The length of the event is regularly set at one hour or customized as the circumstances warrant.

The events are unique, live entertainment sessions for small group audiences, approximately 20 to 50 people. The performances are suitable for most small venues and the technical requirements are minimal. A producer (myself) plans, creates and hosts the event, ensuring consistency and reliability to each performance. Participation and inspiration for themes originates partly from the membership. Interaction during a performance is encouraged so that the event is more engaging than a static performance. Humor and a light approach are important in setting the tone for these programs, thus avoiding a strict classroom or concert hall formality. Most sessions include question time and discussion. Occasionally, a “surprise” element will be planned into the event (for example, a celebrity appearance).

The producer selects program themes, which may originate from:

  • an historical anniversary or birthday
  • current events, local history
  • a new interesting cultural phenomenon
  • the opportunity to invite a special guest
  • an independent subject introduced by the host
  • an interest or activity of a member

Each program consists of several elements; for example, some of the items in this list combined with other ideas:

  • live or recorded music
  • slides or video
  • objects for viewing
  • guest speaker or participant
  • lecture-style commentary
  • on-stage interviews

The topics are chosen to appeal to the age group and background of the audience. Certain programs will have wide general interest, while others will be more narrowly focused. The planned topic for a particular program may be substituted due to an unexpected recent event, if the preparation time and publicity window are adequate.

Six sample programs:


a. salon era of the 1900s—violin/piano live—Reffkin w/acc—sheet music slides—n/a

b. music and the brain—piano live—Reffkin—diagrams—brain model

c. San Francisco music—recordings—Reffkin/guest—photos/sheet music—n/a

d. British light music—recordings—Reffkin—n/a—n/a

e. Instrument building—n/a—guest builder—photos—instrument/parts

f. Recording technology—old/new records—Reffkin—n/a—old/new devices

It may be possible to video record all, or some, performances for viewing by members who are not able to attend the events.  (See item about recordings, in “Budget.”)


Part of the objective of musical presentations is to bring the members out of their homes and in the company of their age group with similar interests, while providing stimulating and engaging programs. Historical and current research, anecdotal evidence, conventional wisdom and intuitive reasoning all indicate the heath benefits of musical stimuli for people. Some of the beneficial aspects of music in the community as a whole, and for the aged in particular, are:

  • education about specific local topics and broad musical/cultural realms
  • general positive effects of music
  • brain-specific positive effects related to background and previous experiences
  • feeling of well-being in community gatherings

Additional positive outcomes of the proposed program include:

  • membership building within the community
  • demonstration of the program for the public
  • reaching potential volunteer individuals and organizations
  • natural expansion of the program to similar organizations
  • possible networking of the program at the regional or national scale

Example of a specific activity and its benefits:

“Popular music of the 1940s and ‘50s.” Some repertoire from the earlier years of members’ lives is now rarely heard in concerts or broadcasts. Simply by performing this familiar material, people immediately connect to these early times, recollecting specific events and circumstances, and they even recall lyrics and melodies of popular songs and dance music. It often happens that this simple revisiting of the music brings a sense of well-being and reassurance to an older person.


The budget would include:

  • the producer’s fee
  • an honorarium for guest participants

Within reasonable margins, the estimated cost of implementing this program would range greatly, depending on the resources used, number of people involved and program schedule. To select arbitrary parameters:  One year of 24 programs (two per month), with a permanent producer/host, six guest presenters, and anticipated expenses may be budgeted in the range of $15 thousand to $30 thousand. This does not include presumably first-year only expenses of audio and video equipment, if they are not otherwise provided.

An important consideration is the amortizing of costs by associated organizations as the plan expands. Certain costs, such as guest presenters and interview guests, may also be shared by outside organizations to everyone’s benefit.

The offering of free events to community members and others who may later contribute funding to the program provides a circuit for funding growth, all resulting in growth of the eldercare organization and its programs.  If performances are video recorded, they may be available in excerpt form as demos to play for prospective funders. Possibly, copies of the recordings could be sold through the eldercare organization.

Any discussion of recording performances in any form would naturally require the approval of the participants, and the series producer would have final approval of the edited versions.


My background and experience in music performance and education is especially suited to the requirements and objectives of this proposal. I am a graduate of New England Conservatory with a combined degree in performance and education. Experience:

  • five years as full-time teacher in public schools and private lessons
  • 40 years as professional performer – violinist, conductor, composer, arranger, contractor, public speaker, conference organizer
  • 30 years as producer/host of weekly radio programs designed as entertainment and educational shows (approximately 3000 hours), including hundreds of interviews
  • founder, officer, board member or participant in numerous nonprofit organizations; participated for nine years in a full-time, grant-funded string quartet for schools, hospitals, convalescent centers, nursing homes and public spaces
  • 40 years as an award-winning journalist and recognized authority in my particular field of interest (early 1900s music and history)

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