Most basically put, music therapy is achieving non musical goals through music. A lot of times people think that the goals are music based, they’re learning instruments or they’re, someone’s performing for them or they’re performing. That is what I think of as a really good side effect. For example, drumming, very simple. When you’re drumming and your goal is to increase the sense of support and you’re drumming with other people, it’s different a little bit than art or some other modalities because it’s something everyone can do at once and everyone contributes to at the same time and makes it better.
So, it’s a form of communication, like non verbal communication. So you’re enhancing the communication, you’re enhancing the sense of community. And you can’t lie, really, on a drum. So you show up really, in an authentic way. And it’s, and it’s a very powerful release.
So a lot of different things are happening at the same time in the simple act of drumming. Now, it’s not like I just show up with drums, but you have context with that. So you could say, OK, let’s all play, you know, angry, and then express that on a drum. We’re going to play joyful. And then you can play memories, you can play the future, you can play the past. You can play the arc of your life; you can play your dreams. So it sounds a little bit like, well, how would I do that. But, that’s the point, because you’re getting out of your logical, thinking mind and getting deeper in to the subconscious and to the creative parts of the brain. And that’s where the real work happens.
It’s really not about the music quality. In fact, that can sometimes take away from it. You get obsessed with it sounding good and you lose, you lose the meaning behind it.
There’re a lot of things that we do that have nothing to do with playing, like lyric analysis. Bringing in songs that mean a lot to you and the content, you know, can be discussed. And using that as a jumping off point for talking about ourselves and one another as opposed to just full disclosure right way. It can feel safer. It can feel less threatening. It can be more fun. It’s often a way that people connect and relate to each to one another by what kind of music they like. So it’s a great way to start connections early.
If we are playing music, you know what, like, everyone has a heartbeat. Everyone has, they can walk, most people, even if you can’t, everyone breathes. All those things take rhythm. Speaking takes tonality and cadence and rhythm. So, truly the less you think and the less you try to make it right, the better you are. Simple is best and we all have that internal clock, so it’s just trusting that. And that’s the beauty of it, is you know that you’ve truly let go when you’re just locked in and you’re not thinking about it.
One of my favorite things about working with this age group, with teens, is it’s such a transitional time. And it’s such a defining time. Where you know a lot about yourself already, you’ve had a lot of life experience, you carry depth. But at the same time, you don’t know everything yet, so there’s an openness and a willingness. And also, there’s a lot of power in what you choose in those moments of our, as adolescents. What we choose in those moments can really affect our future. I just feel like it’s a really amazing crossroads where if you can get in and really bring some light, and some positivity, and some insight in to that world, it can change everything. So, and I also feel like a lot of people tend to shy away from that population, but there’s so much energy and so much talent and so much passion. You just kind of got to tap in to what that motivation is and then run with it. And music is a really big part of the lives of most adolescents. It just puts me in a really good place to be able to make a difference and make a powerful, be powerfully effective.