When you start sharing music with your older adults on a regular basis, you’ll need a way to access the songs and musicians that are important to them. There are many ways to track down clients’ favorite music, both low-tech (e.g. playing their own CDs or checking out CDs from the public library) and high-tech (e.g. digital music streaming apps). In fact, if you have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop with internet access, you have access to a constant stream of your client’s favorite music.
Even with all of the apps and services available these days, however, I always find myself coming back to one: YouTube.
These days, you can access YouTube on any web browser or through mobile apps, so there’s a good chance this resource is no more than an arm’s length away from you for most of the day.
Why do I recommend YouTube?
- It’s familiar. If you use the internet ever, you’ve probably used YouTube. Using it to access music for your older adults is as simple as changing your search term from “screaming goats” to “Frank Sinatra.”
- You can find almost anything. Somehow, even the most obscure songs wind up on YouTube. It’s also a great place to find music from different countries and in languages that are not your own.
- You have something to look at while listening. These are all videos, so even if you only get a still photo of an album cover, you still have some kind of visual to share with your older adult. This takes away some of the awkwardness you might feel when listening to music intentionally with someone else. (Plus, with your smartphone in use playing YouTube, you won’t be tempted to check your email while the music plays.)
- You can see the music in context. I share live music more often than not with my music therapy clients, but I still use YouTube to share Gene Kelly’s tap dancing and Yul Brynner singing in The King and I.
- You can make playlists. Many services allow you to create playlists (and some do this better than YouTube), but it’s still pretty handy to be able to compile several videos into one list you can access over and over. I recommend making playlists for the different older adults you serve so you can always access their favorite videos.
- There’s advertising built in. I don’t love having ads interrupt the flow of conversation, but I do like knowing that those who hold copyrights to this music are getting compensated through YouTube’s sophisticated system.
BONUS: If you share live music with your older adults, you can still use YouTube to help you learn new repertoire quickly. My preference is using both a fake book and YouTube – I can learn a few songs in a couple of hours that way.
How are you using YouTube in your caregiving work?