The History of Karaoke
by Deborah W.

Once upon a time in Japan there was KARAOKE!, and then it spread around the world. Karaoke means ” Empty Orchestra” (“Kara” translates as ‘empty’ and “oke” means ‘orchestra’). It basically means that the song is empty of the lead vocalist. As a Karaoke DJ, I encourage those in the audience to be that lead vocalist.

Karaoke is an essential part of the Japanese culture just as Team Building courses are to them. It is used extensively with Japanese businesses. With proper encouragement (and I don’t mean alcohol) children and adults can learn to have confidence when in front of a crowd. Some companies make it mandatory to participate in karaoke where employees of a company, including the boss and managers, are all gathered to see each other perform. It is a great way to impress your boss and the boss will also take a mental note of the employee who participates, who has good stage presence and enthusiasm. But, it is also a great way to have fun with fellow employees and to see that your boss or manager is a “real” person too.

Karaoke is so popular in Japan that some homes have a machine in several rooms, from the living room to the bedrooms. Even taxis have them in their cars so that passengers can sing while being driven to their destination.  Wow!  What a way to travel!!

Although karaoke has mainly been used in the lounge scene in the USA where people can go and have a couple of drinks and also entertain themselves (it’s cheaper then having a live band), in the past few years it is being used more at shopping malls, churches, family gatherings, retirement communities, nursing homes, day cares and schools.

Many music therapists use it with senior citizens and children with special needs because they can use songs that are familiar to the client. It is a great way to keep older minds active, and karaoke does that by playing music the older person recognizes while the words are scrolling across the TV screen. Young children can now see the words of favorite nursery rhymes that they know.

Do you remember a teenager who hated to give an oral report in front of the classroom? How much different that experience could have been if as a child they had participated in karaoke, singing in front of fellow students and their teacher. Getting the proper encouragement, such as applause and a “song well done” pat on the back, could have helped that student get the confidence needed to give an oral report.

Karaoke is also healthy! One experience from a customer is that of a friend who has asthma.  He started to do karaoke and could not finish a song because he was out of breath and had to stop. After several months he could complete a whole song. Another customer told me of her husband, who was on oxygen all the time and was not sleeping well at night. After using the karaoke machine for a couple of months, she said that her husband was not using the oxygen as often and was sleeping better.

Why these results? Probably because most people just use the upper part of their lungs to breath when they should use all of their lungs. If you want to sing well you need to take in a deep breath, using your diaphragm to get more air into your lungs. The more this is done, the more it becomes a habit.  The lung capacity gets bigger and more oxygen is getting into the body. And try singing a fast song, it can give you results like aerobics!

Have you ever noticed that Frank Sinatra’s voice always stayed young sounding. If your voice sounds like the voice of an old person whose voice cracks then you will feel older. But having a voice that sounds younger can also help you to feel younger.

Singing can have many benefits. So keep that voice in shape by exercising it with singing and KARAOKE is a great and fun way to do that with!