- Digital devices
30-60 minutes interview/listening/recording session, 2-4 hours editing/mastering
- Memory conditions (e.g. Dementia care, Alzheimer
- Palliative care
- Mental health
Vintage Voices features the voices of residents living in the Long Term Care system sharing and responding to music that they love; it brings these voices to the rest of society via short radio clips. Residents act as DJs; they introduce songs and share their pleasure and thoughts like any other radio DJ would do.
As a Psychotherapist/Music Therapist working in the Long Term Care sector, I believe that creativity does not necessarily have to be generative, but can also be about the process of consuming and responding to art; this is critical to enabling individuals with complex health issues, such as those I work with in Long Term Care, to be able to contribute to the world of art and creativity.
In my work in Long Term Care, I witness the negative effects of our society’s ageism and ableism: Individuals living in Long Term Care, families, and healthcare providers often struggle to have a voice, to be noticed, valued, and to receive the support and recognition that is needed. The tone of Vintage Voices is light and fun, however it serves to amplify seldom-heard voices and to put a face (or rather a voice!) to individuals living in these settings, allowing them to show the value of life at every stage.
-portable audio recorder (I use a Zoom H4n)
-windsock to cover mic (to avoid plosive sounds during recording speech)
-iPad/speaker (to listen to music together)
-computer with audio editing program (I use a Mac with Logic Pro)
1) I meet with interested Long Term Care residents (from now on known as guest DJs) to engage in a music-listening interview in a private space. I explain that I’ll be recording our voices and then we engage in simple greetings and introductions, so the individual can get used to having a microphone held up to them while talking. I will model speaking into it, but then keep the microphone close to the guest DJ to make sure their voice is clear.
2) We listen to music together! Some guest DJs may have a favourite song right away that they want to share. Some guest DJs may not be sure what to start with: in this case I might suggest a song or singer this DJ has expressed enjoyment of before, or suggest a style of music that I know is generally popular with the guest DJ’s age/cultural group to get the ball rolling… Often this stirs ideas for other songs and music, or may allow the individual to share their response and love for that particular song.
3) I may ask questions like “What is it about music that is important to you?” “Why do you like music/or this song?” “What does it mean?” (literally if in a different language) or “What does it mean to you?” Or I may not ask any questions at all, and just get into enjoying the music with the guest DJ, supporting their responses and joy.
TIP: The most important thing is just to enjoy listening to the music together, so whatever approach is most motivating and enjoyable for the guest DJ is the way to go. As such, it does not necessarily matter if a guest DJ has advanced health and memory issues… as long as they can express themselves in some audible way, I can take the sounds and edit them into an episode.
4) I import the raw interviews onto a computer and edit them. I cut out any conversation not related to music or any audio/words that are more private, keeping only the resident’s greetings, introductions, one or two song/artist choices, their reflections or memories about the songs or music that they want to share with others, maybe some singing along or exclamations of enjoyment, as well as goodbyes.
5) I then re-record or voice-over my own voice (using the Zoom portable recorder, which also acts as an audio interface, into Logic Pro) to introduce the show/DJ, and connect everything together and make it flow. I use a theme song under the introductions and goodbyes to start and end the show.
SHARING THE EPISODES:
Finished episodes are mastered by powerSound, and our Vintage Voices episodes are aired weekly on the wonderful radio show 33–45-78! (please see links). I also provide a digital copy to the families, but importantly I remove the copyrighted song (I will leave a few seconds of the song fading in and out instead).
Our guest DJs and their families have been overjoyed while engaging in the process and upon hearing the finished episodes. Tony, who’s episode you can listen to in the audio section, exclaimed during the recording process “this brings the music alive and makes life worth living!” Eleanor’s daughter (you can also hear Eleanor’s episode in the audio section) commented on keeping the episode as a treasured keepsake, saying “It will be a beautiful memory that I can always keep of mom.”
A NOTE ON CONSENT AND PRIVACY:
Many individuals living in Long Term Care have family members who are Substitute Decision Makers or Power of Attorney. I communicate with both the guest DJ as well as their family member to ensure that they want to participate. I have a consent form that must be signed before I start an interview. Also when I form the interview into a more finished episode, I go back and play the episode for both the guest DJ as well as their family member to make sure they are both happy with it before it is shared publicly.
An interview and music-listening session can also bring up many memories and emotions. I am available in my role as a Psychotherapist/Music Therapist to provide support and processing as needed. Please understand that it is important to be able to connect a guest DJ with appropriate support as needed, so please be aware of who in your facility/community you would connect a guest DJ to if they are in need of support. These issues may come up during the interview and be recorded: as such, I edit all of the recordings myself and delete anything that should be private.Read More +