Karaoke is used in some older adult facilities. Personally, I’ve considered using it as an approach to those “low voice” days.
Wanting to know more, I asked board-certified music therapist Alison Etter about her experiences using karaoke. Alison works at a state hospital with people on a forensic court commitment. This means that all patients have a mental illness and have been charged with a crime. Her patients are adults with an age range of 18-89 with a majority between the ages of 20-50. All have either been found not guilty by reason of insanity or they are incompetent to stand trial and are preparing to go to court to face their charges. Some patients are very independent in ADLs and even have a job on campus earning minimum wage whereas others are very medically fragile and require individual care for all of their daily tasks. As Alison’s work includes older adults in the hospital, I asked her several questions along with her answers.
How and when do you use it?
Another way we use karaoke is to use just the tracks (no tv) for performances. We have created a community of artists and musicians with the art therapist and there are over a dozen performance opportunities each year. We use the karaoke CDs so that the patients have an accompaniment while they perform in front of their peers. I usually print out the lyrics so they can follow along. We use this for individual performances as well as the choir performances and talent shows.
In therapy sessions I use karaoke tracks for recording and songwriting. I do individual therapy with one patient who enjoys rap music. We listen to rap music and identify negative coping skills or violent actions. A great example is Love the way you lie by Eminem and Rihanna. This process usually takes a couple weeks as we start out circling the lyrics in the song that describe negative coping skills or actions. Next we discuss why they are negative and discuss positive alternatives to each word that is circled. Once we have a new song with positive lyrics we will use the karaoke track to sing a new version of the song. I also have a therapy group that writes and produces music. We use karaoke tracks for individuals to record vocals over. We usually vote on a specific topic for the CD we will be producing such as duets, love songs, rap music, our favorite songs, or christmas music. Patients have the option of using a live or recorded accompaniment for their tracks that they will record vocals over. More recently, patients have requested karaoke tracks for popular songs that they can write and record their own original lyrics to create their own songs.