CNMN > Projects > Vintage Voices

Laura Gillis

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  • Instruments acoustiques
  • Appareils numériques
  • Ainés

30-60 minutes interview/listening/recording session, 2-4 hours editing/mastering

  • Diversité
  • Féminisme
  • Mémoire
  • Maladie d’Alzheimer et autres démences
  • Soins palliatifs
  • La santé mentale

Vintage Voices


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.


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. »


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.

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