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«Student: Nazaret Gómez Roca Supervisor: Esperanza Torres Secondary supervisor: Ulla Holck Master thesis at the Master Programme in Music Therapy ...»

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Songwriting with adolescents

in a Secondary School

Exploring emotional expression, interpersonal

relationships and identity formation

Nazaret Gómez Roca

Songwriting with adolescentes

in a Secondary School

Exploring emotional expression, interpersonal

relationships and identity formation

Student: Nazaret Gómez Roca

Supervisor: Esperanza Torres

Secondary supervisor: Ulla Holck

Master thesis at the Master Programme in Music Therapy

Department of Communication and Psychology

Aalborg University Junio 2011 This paper contains 117,270 characters (with spaces), 49 standard pages (one normal page is equivalent to 2,400 characters) Acknowledgements To Tony Wigram, and Patxi del Campo, for everything I've learned from you, for your expertise, and for making the realization of this work possible.

To the teaching staff of the Music Therapy Department at Aalborg University, particularly to its director Ulla Holck, thanks for giving us this opportunity for learning and development.

To my supervisor, Esperanza Torres, for your guidance, corrections and advice, without which I would be lost. To Carola Hernández and Ruth Hertrampf, as well, for guiding me through an important part of the process.

To my family, because you support me despite the distance; and especially to my parents, for loving me and instilling in me your kindness and patience.

To Isabel Serrano, for encouraging me to trust myself and to discover who I am.

To the staff of the Europa Secondary School in Rivas, for supporting this project.

To my students, for trusting me.

And especially to José María. Thanks for your support, for your company and for your music.

To the staff of the Europa Secondary School in Rivas, for supporting this project.

Abstract This research explores how music and music therapy can help in the formation of identity in adolescents, through emotional expression and interpersonal relationships. It was undertaken in a Secondary School with a group of nine adolescents, who have chosen music as an optional subject in their 4th year. The study focuses on 30 sessions conducted over three months. The music therapy project promotes an educational model which increases the personal resources of adolescents. The application of music therapy is performed on a preventive level, with the aim of avoiding imbalances in the social and emotional development of adolescents. The method is based on a humanistic approach, employing some of the fundamental concepts of Gestalt therapy.

The research is approached from a qualitative and phenomenological point of view, and attempts to depict the ongoing process. The results show that songwriting, on the basis of the figures that emerge during the group process, favours the more sincere and emotional expression of adolescents, and thus contributes to constructing their own identity.

Keywords

–  –  –

2. Theoretical framework

2.1. Evolution of adolescence

2.2. Develop a sense of themselves to promote identity formation

2.3. Educational approach

2.3.1. Education as a means of promoting personal resources

2.3.2. Education from a psychosocial perspective

2.3.3. The value of integral music education

2.4. Functions of music in adolescence

2.4.1. Identity formation and music

2.5. Music Therapy and Adolescents

2.5.1. Song Methodology

2.5.1.1. Using existing favorite songs

2.5.1.2. Songwriting

2.5.2. Music Therapist´s Role

2.6. Qualitative research criteria

3. Literature review

4. Clinical method

4.1. Population

4.2. Objectives and program features

4.3. Music therapy methods and techniques

4.4. Structure of sessions

5. Data collection instruments

5.1. The recording sessions diary of the music therapist

5.2. The Adolescents' Diaries

5.3. Audio and video recordings

5.4. The products of the activities: songs (sheet music and lyrics)

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 1 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation

6. Results

6.1. Initial exploratory and pre-contact stage:

using existing popular songs and introduction to songwriting

6.2. Contact phase and creative adjustment. Composition of an original song.

Emerging figure: childhood

7. Conclusions

8. Appendix: record authorization

9. Bibliography

–  –  –

Figure 2: Example of metallophone ostinato, Silvia

Figure 3: Song Childhood: What happened to that child? (final version)

–  –  –

After several years working with adolescents in Secondary Education as a music teacher, I've realized the need for most teens to have a space where they can express themselves more freely and explore their identity, emotions, doubts, conflicts, etc. This space should be a place where they have the opportunity to learn about themselves and about others through interpersonal relationships.





At the beginning of my career, I found three different aspects fundamental to improving my

work:

- Gaining knowledge about group dynamics, in order to handle and understand how they conducted their relationships. I had always worked with groups but had received no training in college about how to work with them.

- Tapping into the potential of music, which was my basic tool, in order to promote emotional and social development.

- Employing music as a way of individual and collective enjoyment, as I had previously done in various sessions of vocal improvisation and experimentation.

This was the motive that led me to seek resources and tools in music therapy and gestalt therapy and to train in both disciplines, which I’ve attempted to integrate into this project of music and music therapy with high-school adolescents. Hence, my project is aimed at developing the personal resources of adolescents and to contribute to the formation of their identity, strengthening their sense of themselves in a group setting through music therapy.

Marina (2004) speaks of a "pedagogy of personal resources,” understood as a method that facilitates the development of skills and attitudes that promote a person's access to happiness.

He defends the need for "learning to live," and to coexist with others.

Both Naranjo (2004) and Marina (2005) highlight the "saving" power of the educational task, in order to foster a more humane world and society. They believe that we must start from a person’s very beginnings, that is, their infancy, and in order to achieve this, it’s essential for them to receive an education that develops the potential and resources of each individual.

Naranjo (2004) proposes an integrative and holistic education, focused on educating the whole person, both their emotional and mental life. He calls for an education that relates to knowledge actively, seeking a balance between theory and practice.

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 3 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation As noted by Garaigordobil (2008), our current educational methods tend to frequently focus primarily on cognitive development, neglecting other important aspects of human beings, such as their emotional or social development.

According to Naranjo (2004), the lack of meaning and connection between the existential situation of adolescents and their education is becoming increasingly evident. This is why an increased noise level can be observed in schools and society as a whole, which may cause individuals to become hyperactive and disconnected from their most intimate desires, since all their energy seems to proceed from their interior toward the exterior.

One of the objectives of this project involving music therapy with adolescents is to encourage self-expression, which in turn encourages the task of identity formation. McFerran (2004), referring to group work with adolescents, proposes the use of musical activities which promote communication between the group members, and emphasizes self-expression as a goal in working with adolescents, in order to facilitate the process of identity formation.

During my previous teaching experience, I observed that something which often interested and motivated my students was to begin with the music they brought with them, treating it as an important element in their manner of expressing their personal identity, as well as trying to compose new lyrics to existing music or to create melodies and improvise musical pieces with the aim of expressing different emotions.

These previous teaching experiences are concrete examples of the theories of Green and Walmsley (n.d.). They suggest that teachers take into account five basic principles for

encouraging informal musical learning as an educational strategy:

1. Teaching music that the students identify with, i.e., music they like and that they themselves can choose.

2. Learning to listen to and imitate recordings (playing by ear).

3. Learning together with friends

4. Personal learning without a necessarily perfectly defined structure.

5. Integrated listening activities, performance, improvisation and composition.

I was also able to confirm the potential and power of peer groups for the process of learning about oneself and others through interpersonal relationships. The peer group is a powerful mirror and a good conduit for individual expression. As noted by Yalom (2005), the need to Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 4 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation interact closely with others is a basic biological need. At the adolescent stage, successful peer relationships and self-esteem are closely linked.

Music has a great socializing potential. I think it should be approached from a social perspective, one that stimulates social and emotional development and fosters pro-social attitudes (cooperation, respect for differences, communication, etc). To Zahonero (2007), this social perspective is defined as "doing things with others, and this is its most important meaning: to develop yourself in interaction with others."

According with Peñarrubia (2003, p. 72), "we are poorly educated as regards the collective and the community, and the group is the ideal context for developing community awareness, which involves the respect and acceptance of self and others.” The emphasis here is on the power of the group, not only for developing a sense of an individual self, but in order to transform our distinct milieus and social groups, highlighting attitudes such as sincerity, respect, profundity and commitment to the community. This social perspective of education goes beyond individual interests, promoting instead general interests, and aims to offer people a deeper sense of their common nature.

Analyzing all these aspects has led me to focus my research and thoughts on the importance of providing a space for individual growth and holistic development—and not just aimed at conceptual contents—in the context of compulsory education.

This project attempts to answer the question: how can music and music therapy facilitate emotional expression, interpersonal relationships and help adolescents in the formation of their identity within an educational framework?

In order to this, group music therapy was undertaken with adolescents, from a preventive perspective, in which teenagers were given options for expressing themselves in a supportive environment. The aim was to prevent possible difficulties with adjustment and adaptation in the social and emotional development of the adolescents.

Secondly, an analysis of the intervention was carried out in order to identify and describe how music therapy methods can help adolescent identity formation through emotional expression and peer interaction.

–  –  –

2.1. Evolution of adolescence Adolescence is a period of profound change, marked by instability and tentativeness (Garaigordobil, 2008). This stage begins between 11-13, known as preadolescence and ends between 18-20, late adolescence (Garaigordobil, 2008).

In adolescence the individual consolidates their specific knowledge and their general knowledge with regard to the world and their social environment, making adaptations and adjustments which last throughout the life cycle. The process of acquiring technical, communicative and social skills is further developed at this stage. Moreover, teenagers develop their own autonomy from the environment.

Adolescence is a period of transition between childhood and adulthood, and is a troubled stage of life, as on the one hand, the teenager faces an internal crisis and on the other hand has to adapt to a social environment which sometimes does not favor this adaptation (Garaigordobil, 2008).

During this period, the adolescent acquires and consolidates their personal and social identity, which implies, among other things, an autonomous moral consciousness, the adoption of significant values, and the development of a concept of self-esteem. Adolescence is also a phase of acquisition of independence, separation from the family and the establishment of new group ties, friendship and sexual relations. This period of vital development is crucial, since it largely shapes the ideals of life which later form the adult personal identity.

Most teenagers share some common experiences and problems: all suffer the physiological and physical changes of puberty and growth associated with adolescence; they all feel the need to establish their own identity; they all need to open a path in life as independent members of society. However, not all face the same environmental demands, and each teenager reacts differently to the various changes they are presented with.

The intensity of the problems and difficulties faced by adolescents, related to the need to adapt to social environment in a time of internal crisis depends on the availability of emotional and instrumental support from others, such as family, peers, friends, or other social entities.



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