Rock ‘N’ Roll Art School is a combined music and art therapy program designed and implemented by Chelsea Lohr in 2016 at the VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The program is designed for adults with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. Chelsea is qualified to lead this program for residents of long-term care homes, especially for those who would otherwise find activity participation difficult.

“The veteran participants of Rock N Roll Art School at the VA Medical Center – Wilkes- Barre, PA were a group of men aged 50+ with a wide range of physical and cognitive strengths and disabilities. As a whole, they carried in with them diverse medical diagnoses with equally diverse manifestations of symptoms, distinctive interests, and sometimes self-doubt and skepticism of the creative arts. Using a strengths-based approach, my intent was to encourage them to use their own histories to inform their participation. Music that is very familiar and was listened to during a developmental period has a unique relationship to the mind’s memory stores. An important song may operate as a sort of memory retriever and carry back the sights, smells, and emotions long forgotten, or perhaps painfully left unprocessed. My intent was to provide an opportunity for the veterans to listen to music that would have played on the radio during their teens and 20s, which has been researched and is considered to be the period when the greatest developmental strides are made that influence, if not define, our personalities as older adults. My hope was to draw out aspects of their core nature and significant experiences and apply it to new forms of creative expression. Artists have historically found some level of fame in their eccentricity, trauma, or psychological disorders. The stories of famous artists may be particularly relatable to those diagnosed with Bipolar, PTSD, Schizophrenia, or those who consider themselves to be divergent, creative thinkers. My intent was to provide lecture that explicitly emphasized the connection between psychiatric or social struggles and art making as a means of therapeutic coping. I presented lecture in a storytelling context with the hope to make it easier for the participants to identify with the artist. Together, the lecture, music and art were intended to provide a holistic setting for reminiscence about the fundamentals of their individuality, relate their own hurdles to the adversities of generations of artists, and attempt to use art as an alternative, creative coping strategy or as an outlet for general emotional expression.”

Contact Chelsea to learn more about this program and to access more of her research.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Art School is ready to be implemented and tailored to the interests of the residents in any care home.


Rock ‘N’ Roll Art School ©