Tamar Frieden talks with us about music transforming the lives of seniors at any level of mental or physical ability. https://www.musicforlifecny.com/senior-samba/

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with The Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care market, share their advice. So let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Tamar Frieden:

Hi, thank you so much for having me. My name is Tamar Frieden. I am the founder of Music for Life CNY Seniors Samba. What is Seniors Samba? It’s an interactive music and movement program, incorporating instruments and prop, that invite movement, either upper body, lower body and mindfulness, to seniors at senior living homes and communities.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Awesome. And you can do this, we were just talking about this before we started recording, you could do this virtually, right?

I believe this is my life’s calling. I started my company over 20 years ago, and the first time I was in a senior living home and I saw how the room was transformed by sharing music, sharing fun, and even little silliness we get when we’re doing the program, I was so moved. I remember I came out, there were tears rolling down my cheeks and I just looked up and I said, “Thank you.”

Tamar Frieden

Tamar Frieden:

Yes. Exciting news is, I now have a video program session that can be seen and used virtually at any senior living home in the country, and the beautiful part about it, it is turnkey. Everything is given to you and all you have to do is put in your simple password and you will have access to four different music and movement videos of Senior Samba. The songs that are used in the program are a large variety. You’ll have golden oldies, you’ll have new, today pop, because they have a good beat and they invite great movement. I use different languages as well, just to invite the culture of different countries in the program, and some of them will even go back to early childhood memories which are wonderful for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Row, Row, Your Boat, You Are My Sunshine, Yankee Doodle, and each song they’ll be invited to play an instrument, move their body, always invited to sing along and join as well.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice, very nice. We were talking before, you were talking about doing this as a Zoom but then decided to record it, right-

Tamar Frieden:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… so that people didn’t have to worry about that Zoom connection and all the internet challenges that we can go through on any given day.

Tamar Frieden:

Absolutely. Zoom is wonderful, and it became a common language in many homes with COVID, and I had tried because I wasn’t able to go into any senior living home to offer free Zoom classes in the beginning, and it was such a struggle to get on, log on, stay connected. Some of the homes are more successful, their internet is more reliable than others, but having now, Senior Samba Interactive Music and Movement Virtual Program on a platform where it is streaming, all they’ll have to do is log in and choose whichever video series they would like to do that day.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Awesome.

Tamar Frieden:

Other important or wonderful part of the program is, if you are a senior living community with different communities, assisted living, memory care and independent, the program is built for everyone in that community. So with one membership, you will be able to share the program with your entire community.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice, that is nice. And yes, everybody’s at a different level of ability, cognitively and physically, so that’s great.

Tamar Frieden:

Yes. And I also share with the program, they get a manual with all the words, all the movements that can be done are invited to do with each song. So an activities director or a life enrichment can choose a video and say, “Oh, this group is going to be able to get up and lift their legs so we’re going to do-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice.

Tamar Frieden:

… These Boots Are Made For Walking, because we’re going to lift our legs and boogie.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right, great. It sounds like something I need to do [inaudible 00:04:26].

Tamar Frieden:

I’ll boogie you with you, Valerie.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. What is the best thing about serving seniors?

Tamar Frieden:

Oh. I believe this is my life’s calling. I started my company over 20 years ago, and the first time I was in a senior living home and I saw how the room was transformed by sharing music, sharing fun, and even little silliness we get when we’re doing the program, I was so moved. I remember I came out, there were tears rolling down my cheeks and I just looked up and I said, “Thank you.” And my grandmother, may she rest in peace, was quite the character. And I believe that she was channeling me all her energies to walk into a senior living home and create magic. And I’ve seen miracles happen. I’ve seen people who were so closed, non-verbal, and when you put a shaky egg in their hand, and they felt that vibration and the shake, they came to life and all of a sudden they were belting out, You Are My Sunshine.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. That is so nice. I love a shaky egg. Yes. That is so fun. Good. Yeah. Well, for most of us in this industry, it is a life calling, or it is something that has happened in our life that we’ve experienced that call us to help others and help our senior population. So thank you. I mean it is amazing to see the change in people when music is involved.

Tamar Frieden:

Sure.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Anybody, any senior, you turn that music on… I walked into my dad’s nursing home many times and they’ve had, whether it was a church service or a religious service, or they’ve had just some kind of cool activity going on, and the whole room was full of people in wheelchairs, and walkers, and whatever, singing along, or just boogieing it in their chair, or whatever they were doing, and it was a lot of fun. So that was pretty cool.

Tamar Frieden:

It unites the community. What I have found is that the staff, the residents, anyone who is there, they’re hearing that music, their feet start going, they come in, they want to join along. There was a home I used to do back in New York and we would do the song Single Ladies. And every member of that staff would come out and grab a tambourine and boogie on. And the residents just saw another side of them that made it so real for them. They weren’t just their caretakers. They were people boogieing and having fun with them.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Friends. Yeah, absolutely. That is fun. Yep. I love it when the staff… How could you not, whether you’re working in the kitchen while it’s going on, or you’re cleaning tables, or whatever you’re doing in that recreation area or near it, it’s hard not either enjoy watching or kind of rock, go to the beat yourself. So yeah, it is a lot of fun. So I would imagine in your lifetime, and you mentioned your grandmother, that there have been people and organizations that have really meant a lot to you, mentors, or just organizations that you think, wow, they really do a good job. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

Tamar Frieden:

There are so many. I’d like to shout out to all the activities directors in Southern California at the Atria Senior Living, at Pacifica Senior Living, at Felicita Senior Living, at Somerford Senior Living, at Seacrest Valley, to all of their staff, their activities directors, their executive directors that have gone beyond to accommodate the residents and make them feel safe, happy, during this really trying time.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. Yeah. Activity directors definitely haven’t gotten enough shout outs on this show because they have done everything possible to be helpful during all of this. And it is just a challenging, challenging time. And I know that my dad had been in a nursing home for about two years when my stepmother decided to bring him home because of COVID, which is a challenge in and of itself. But in the meantime, that activities director did everything she could to be able to get us on Zoom, or not Zoom, but FaceTime calls, and be able to talk to him. And obviously it’s not enough, but it’s not their fault. They really are doing the very best they can. And here she is in his room, completely head to toe in this gear, and trying to have fun and do things, and we even celebrated his birthday over FaceTime because we couldn’t go see him and all that. So did the very best they could, are doing the very best they can.

Tamar Frieden:

They are our stars. They are our true heroes during this time.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Tamar Frieden:

And in general.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This has been probably the most challenging points in all of their careers, I would imagine for most of them. Most challenging and… And also, this has given a lot of people new ideas and new ways to integrate family, and integrate activities with folks.

Tamar Frieden:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So I’m sure there’s a lot [inaudible 00:10:16] including what you have to offer, because that is a great way to get people moving a little bit more.

Tamar Frieden:

It’s a great way, and it’s also, I felt, when I was producing and creating it, that it would be an advantage and a really helpful tool for senior living residents in homes, because it’s in-house, and it’s there. If somebody didn’t show up, or if their activity didn’t come, or they didn’t get what they needed, they have Senior Samba. They can just plug in the video, hand out the instruments, and I can promise you that they’ll always have a good time.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Absolutely. That’s cool. That is so nice.

Tamar Frieden:

Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. Let’s talk about online marketing. So you have probably put this online, and we’ll put your website and everything anybody needs with your video here, so they can talk to you, or order, or whatever they want to do. Online marketing, in general, has been challenging. We can’t get together, we can’t network in person as much. Now, hopefully we’re seeing the light at the end of that tunnel, but I think things have changed with regard to online marketing and people have gotten a lot more serious about it. What has been your experience or your thoughts about online marketing, especially now?

Tamar Frieden:

Well, I think now it has been the prize for everybody that we can continue, and we can engage and interact with our online platform, whether it’d be Zoom, FaceTime, Google, whatever you’re choosing. And I think it depends on the individual. I’m speaking for myself from my experience, so that whenever I do have an online Zoom class, my priority is first to know who’s in the room so I can engage on a personal level, and whether you’re in person or on Zoom, I think making that personal connection is really important. And technology has allowed us to do that today. And I think you can reach a lot more people with your online marketing. So there are pros and cons. There’s always nice, that familial, meeting someone and shaking their hand, but that’s not happening right now, and we don’t know what our future holds. So I think online marketing has been very valuable for reaching the vast opportunities that are out there. I live in California, but I’m talking to someone in North Carolina and we’re boogieing together on Zoom. I don’t know if that would have happened.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Yeah. You definitely, truly, we have an opportunity to reach a broader audience if you want to. There’s been a lot of negatives, of course, nobody ever wants to have to live through a pandemic, but if you take some of these cloudy days that we’ve had for the last year, and you look for that silver lining and you think, “What can I do?” And the word pivot has been way overused, but what can I do to turn this into something that might be long lasting, and that is learning how to reach out to humans using a screen. And I think people would be surprised at how malleable and willing seniors are to use their screens, and willing to learn how to do this on screen and use Zoom, or FaceTime, or whatever it is, they are very willing to do that. They need the right tools, but once you set them up and let them fool around a little bit, and get used to it, it’s not so bad.

Tamar Frieden:

Right. Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[crosstalk 00:14:11].

Tamar Frieden:

Exactly. Technology has evolved to make it click. And there we are.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. What would have happened… If this were the eighties, we would be lost. I mean, we would be just like, “I don’t know. There’s nothing going on here.”

Tamar Frieden:

That would be so isolating, so much more isolating. So I’m a strong supporter of online marketing and using that to promote and provide for everybody.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Good experiences.

Tamar Frieden:

Yep. Definitely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. What piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Tamar Frieden:

Hmm. I would say that use your online, reach out to as many people as you feel that would have value for what you do. And don’t limit yourself. Even if you’re in the East Coast, go out to the West Coast, because if you have an idea, a product, an event that is going to be valuable, the value is for everybody, and spread our wings.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep. Get out there and talk to people about what you do. And some of our viewers and listeners are local businesses, but if you work on the north side of town, reached out to the south side of town.

Tamar Frieden:

Exactly.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

There’s opportunity in everything here. So I would say, yeah, you learn a little bit more about your online presence and how it works. Take that [inaudible 00:16:04]

Tamar Frieden:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And look for online. If you’re looking for something, just put it in your Google search and you’ll be surprised how much you can get and receive, and make a contact and connection. All connections are valuable. Every one.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. We met on LinkedIn. And I would say that other than our regular clients, every single person, all 105 now, episodes, are people who, and some people I already knew, but not everybody, and they’re all LinkedIn connections. One hundred percent are LinkedIn.

Tamar Frieden:

I second that. LinkedIn has been a wonderful opportunity for me as well. And everyone has been professional, friendly, and responsive, if they have an interest in what you’re doing. And if not, some of them will be just as respectful and responsive and say, “Great idea, but I’m not in senior care anymore.” So I would shout out to everyone to check out your LinkedIn, ask your questions on Google, and look for those opportunities because they’re there.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Absolutely. All right. So then my last question is supposed to be a fun one. I can’t wait to get the answer. When you have a win in life or business, how do you like celebrate?

Tamar Frieden:

We have a dance party.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I bet. I knew that was coming. [inaudible 00:17:37] get up and do a jig.

Tamar Frieden:

Yes, totally.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. And we have had dancing, a few answers we’ve had are dancing, jumping in the ocean, which must mean they either live in California or Florida, and we’ve had all kinds of stuff. We’ve had some crazy things and some pretty normal stuff. And, but I think dancing is a great way to celebrate anytime, any little thing, give yourself a round of applause and do a little jig, birthdays, weddings, and just generally having a good day.

Tamar Frieden:

And I always remember too, is to say, “Thank you.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I want to thank you for doing the show, for introducing us to Senior Samba-

Tamar Frieden:

My pleasure.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… and I’ll make sure that everybody has your LinkedIn information. And thank you so much.

Tamar Frieden:

Yes. And if anybody’s interested, I’m always available to set a Zoom call at their convenience, if they want to learn more. I do have an outreach email, which includes a sample of the program.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Cool. All right. That sounds great. Thank you so much.

Tamar Frieden:

My pleasure, Valerie. Thank you so much for having me. It was so nice to meet you and to have this little chat about seniors.