#34 - Precious Memories
(How to Get Your Granny or your Senior Citizen Mum to Podcast Her Memories)

First of all, your senior citizen granny or mum or auntie probably doesn't own a computer or, if she does, probably uses it for emailing the kids and for family pictures. She might belong to an on line Forum but that's unlikely.

Her thoughts on Podcasting might be:
Microphones, Oh my God, and you're on stage, How embarrassing.
I don't know what to say, unaccustomed as I am to public speaking.
Forget about it!

Get yourself something that will record telephone conversations to your hard drive. Granny is used to the telephone. She can talk quite a while on the telephone, especially if she is reassured that the cost is minimal because you are using your computer to call. I bought a service called Gizmo where for about $12.00 Canadian I got 6 hours of phone time. I can phone anywhere in Canada or the United Stated to a regular phone. For 15 minutes it only costs me about 50 cents, maybe less. The important part is while you are talking to granny on the telephone using Gizmo, or Skype with some additional software, you can record your conversation to your hard drive. I found the audio quality to be fairly good; not as good as a commercial recording but fine for the somewhat less exacting medium of Podcasting.

A Podcast is “A method of publishing audio files to the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers.” In other words you record,edit and then save the file in the Mp3 format for playback on your iPod or similar listening device.

A word to the wise. Do not let Gizmo or any other Internet phone service pluck out contacts from your Microsoft Mail, if you use it. The program will send cheerful notes to all your contacts. Type your contacts in manually and do not include their emails.

Call Mum or Grannie up and get her talking about the old days. Don't barrage her with a whole bunch of questions. Have a few really good questions ready to 'prime the pump' and encourage her to ramble on. Don't worry if she doesn't follow your mental script. To quote the sound engineer's famous last words “We'll fix it when we mix it!”

Get a good piece of sound editing software like the free one called Audacity and edit your sound file. You save the good bits and you discard the boring bits. <http://audacity.sourceforge.net/>

So you've plugged a few reminders. “Granny remember when we used to go camping and we had a tent and there were mosquitoes and bears.”

She'll go on about how the bears stole the blueberry pie and how she hooked your dad in the eyebrow when he was trying to teach her fly fishing The local vet pushed the hook through and snipped it off but wouldn't take pay because he wasn't supposed to treat humans.

Now you piece those memories together. To older folks the past is sometimes more vivid than the present and the whole interview process should be a pleasant experience.

You can get the good stuff because you know where the buttons are. You've heard these stories more than once but what you want is to have a sound file with her voice telling them again. Just nail these stories down and your interest in what she is saying is going to put enthusiasm in her voice – which is what you want with her natural voice, or his natural voice in the case of Granddad.

Once it's edited, if you have the courage, play it back for Grandma. You shouldn't put it out there on the public scene unless she's had a listen but emphasize the fact that it's for family and grandkids first. It would make a nice Christmas CD.

She may be very pleased with the whole thing and quite proud of herself. Never mind that you spent several hours editing what may end up being a relatively short audio file.

It's probably best to do these thing in 7 or 10 minute bursts of storytelling When you are recording you can stop periodically and save and then start again. It's easier to edit short files and you can paste them together later.

Now the thing about the telephone is that you're not stuck with editing out plosives, those “P” and “T” sound explosions that pop right out and nail you in the ear in microphone recording. Doesn't seem to happened with the telephone.

This Podcast is just a guideline on how to record your family members and put the sound file out either as a personal family CD or as a Podcast. Once you've got the hang of it you can interview Uncle Ted and Aunt Addie, or Cousin Bill. There's no end to it!

You might even be brave enough to use a computer microphone and recording software. I use Total Recorder or Audacity to record that way. You may have to fiddle with the settings to set it up for Microphone. Total Recorder is nice because you can schedule and record Internet radio broadcasts but that's another story

I should mention that, although I am a Podcasting Granny, I am also a demi-tech. I used to do software application support and I'm a retired Web master. I'm used to public speaking and entertaining. I've been a communicator my whole life. Let's just say that just because I do it it doesn't mean it's easy for Granny, so give her a helping hand!

PRECIOUS MEMORIES
Traditional as per http://www.allmusic.com/

Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred scenes unfold.

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.

I remember mother praying
Father, too, on bended knee
Sun is sinking, shadows falling
But their prayers still follow me.

As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious memories flood my soul.

 


© Sonia Fricker Brock 2005
http://www.soniabrock.com

Feed: http://www.soniabrock.com/Podcasts/chatham1.xml