Here’s a thing: I usually talk quietly, but I often sing loudly…
Maybe it’s because a song has “known” words, they’re (usually) already written, and there’s a melody to go with them. The music helps a lot in this area.
Talking with friends the other day about songs I love, I said it’s usually the feeling I get from it – rather than the lyrics in a song – that attract me to it. Maybe I’ll think about the lyrics afterwards, but typically they’re not the initial pull for me…
Though as soon as I write that, it occurs to me: sometimes the lyrics of a song really do hit home, and the melody doesn’t even matter. When they tell a story, or put across a point that gets me right there, it feels like the music is a delivery mechanism for lyrical poetry.
Isn’t it great that music can include both?! Words and melodies coming together… that’s before we even get to harmony, rhythm, modulation, dynamics or anything else.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about music with words, sometimes music can provide a subtle backdrop to a story, guiding in ways that are intuitive or pre-verbal. With its emotional connection, music can sometimes reach parts that words alone can’t.
So I’ll keep singing :)
A few months ago I read this book “Playin’ in the Band” (Kenneth Aigen), with accompanying DVD, it’s a detailed case-study from the 90’s featuring Lloyd and his music with two music therapists at Nordoff-Robbins New York. In the DVD excerpts from sessions spanning several years you can see relationships develop between Lloyd and the music therapists as they play a range of rock, blues, country and more. It’s highly recommended if you can get access to a copy.
This book came to mind today as I was talking to someone who asked what music genres appear in therapy – in the literature it stands out as a contemporary or ‘pop’ example among the classical and traditional music usually mentioned. For example, in Healing Heritage by Nordoff & Robbins, “During his lectures, Nordoff illustrated points with live musical examples, many from the classical repertoire”.
In the past, music therapists were typically classically trained, and this would influence the music they played in sessions. These days, music therapists come from a wider range of backgrounds, and that is bound to have an impact on the music used. Clearly there’s no limit to what styles or genres may appear in music therapy – particularly in sessions where the client brings their own music – and the therapist works with what they bring.
The BAMT website states “Music therapists work with the natural musicality styles and genres including free improvisation to offer appropriate, sensitive and meaningful musical interaction with their clients”.
This could take many forms, so every little bit of music may have potential – and it’s a reminder to me to open up and absorb as much music as I can :)
Mirroring in music and therapy
In music you could mirror some notes, a phrase or rhythm – reinforcing a particular sound from the other person, letting them know you hear them, and allowing them to lead the music.
In therapy you may mirror a posture, action or behaviour – showing empathy for a person, being affected by them, gaining trust or even insight into their experience.
Mirroring can sometimes happen without you even realising it – the more aware you are, the more useful it can become.
In my reading about research I’ve come across countertransference, a Freudian phenomenon that seems like mirroring on a deeper level, something to look out for!