Folk singer brings classic music to nursing homes; donates guitars

Coronavirus

CORNING, N.Y. (WETM) — A folk singer from New York has been performing for nursing home residents across the country for years. But once the COVID-19 pandemic began, he had to find a new way to continue this tradition while being socially distanced.

George Mann, of Ithaca, has been a full-time musician for 10 years. His love of music spans decades, and he has been playing the guitar since he was 9 years old.

Mann has performed shows across the United States and even in Australia. However, nursing home performances have always been his favorite.

“I’ve been playing as a musician you know for nursing homes, it’s been part of my job for more than 20 years,” said Mann. “I see it as a service, to a degree, but it’s also a job. They pay professionals who know 200+ songs, everything from Johnny Cash and Elvis to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.”

One of his favorite places to play is the Corning Center, a nursing home located on East First Street in Corning.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and the nursing home was shut down, Mann found a way to play virtually to residents. While it was not a live show, it was not far from it. Residents were able to watch and hear Mann via Skype on an iPad. For Mann, he never missed a beat.

“We started doing ‘online strolling’ and that was working out really well until they got hit with that wave that came through in September,” said Mann. “In about two or three weeks more than 30 people, many of whom I’ve known for years, were gone.”

For Mann, the power of music is healing.

“The idea of service is something that I think the coronavirus has brought to people,” said Mann. “People have been looking for ways they can give back and help to deal with something we’ve never experienced in our lifetimes and hopefully won’t experience again.”

Mann was so thankful to the Corning Center, so he decided to donate a guitar to the residents.

“It was just an idea I had,” said Mann. “I could fix up a few guitars and give them to the [nursing] homes that have meant a lot to me over the years. That will be a lasting memory. Somebody will have an instrument that they can play maybe long after I stop playing.”

For residents, they are looking forward to the day Mann can have another live performance.

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