Many Hartford-area karaoke venues are geared toward the young– in other words, kids, at least relatively speaking. Others cater to persons more of their parents’ age. But, what about their grandparents?
On Saturday July 23, residents of The Lodge at Cold Spring , a senior housing community in Rocky Hill demonstrated that the love of singing karaoke bears no age-constraints. That afternoon, the facility held Friends and Family Day, which was highlighted by a karaoke-hour with Carol Neal of Memory Lane Karaoke.
Your grandparents’ karaoke may be a bit different from the variety with which you are familiar. Neal’s model is not the traditional, individualistic form of karaoke where singers sign-up to sing whatever song they select. Instead, Neal pre-selects the songs on her karaoke system,– all classics and favorites from the era in which your grandparents grew up (or before)– and leads the assembled group of seniors through each tune, sing-along-style.
Those in attendance did not seem to mind the non-individualistic brand of karaoke in the slightest. In fact, once they convened in the room where the karaoke-session was to be held, they even began their own sing-along before Neal arrived.
“You guys don’t even need me!”, Neal joked, once she joined the group.
When the karaoke-session officially began, however, Neal enthusiastically took charge, as she led the group through familiar standards such as When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, When the Saints Go Marching, She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes, and Give My Regards to Broadway. She shimmied her way around the room as she sang, encouraging crowd members to get up and dance with her or clap along with the songs. She also distributed maracas and other props throughout the room.
Neal travels throughout the New England region conducting these events at senior centers and residences. She cites both the recreational and exercise aspects of what she does, as participants work out the muscles in their arms and legs, as well as their vocal chords
“My job isn’t just to get them to sing. It’s to get them to move.,” she stresses.
Neal herself represents an excellent example to seniors of how simultaneously fun and healthy an activity karaoke can be, regardless of one‘s age. A senior herself, the spry and agile Neal worked every corner of the room, sashaying from one end to the other, enlivening everyone’s spirits as she worked to get their blood flowing
Participants reveled in the fun. One resident used one of the maracas as a pretend-microphone. And at one point, a lady in the group quipped, “Pass the Baileys!”, apparently enjoying the atmosphere so much she wished it could turn even more festive.
Lodge resident Julia Kozlowski, 90, fully embraced the spirit of festivity and song. “I like to participate in these fun activities with everyone. And I love to sing.”
Alice Lawlor, 98, echoed the love of singing part. “I’ve always loved to sing. I used to sing in my church choir.” Lawlor must have appreciated the final number Neal played, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, a traditional hymn.
Obviously, Neal guided the residents through her playlist at a very subdued volume compared to the noisy kind of karaoke their grandkids would prefer. But, she managed a feat that most bar KJs can not accomplish: she got everyone present to sing, including facility staff. Older folk may enjoy a different style of karaoke than the young, but it seems that when it comes to pure love of singing and enthusiastic karaoke-participation, they could certainly teach the whippersnapper-set a thing or two.