«Student: Nazaret Gómez Roca Supervisor: Esperanza Torres Secondary supervisor: Ulla Holck Master thesis at the Master Programme in Music Therapy ...»
The influence of teachers, classmates and school environment is equally important for the adequate development of children. A recent study suggests that teachers could have a significant success in the teaching of music if they provide opportunities for students to investigate, to imitate and performance young people's favorite music within groups of friends (Green, 2001).
Bresler (1995) speaks of different approaches to integrating the arts into the curriculum, among which are mentioned emotional integration and social integration. In emotional integration, emphasis is put on the emotions that musical experience evokes and the ideals of creativity and self-expression, which teachers recognize are not developed in the academic Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 12 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation curriculum, are incorporated. In social integration, the social function of music for the maintenance of social and personal identity is emphasized.
My involvement with adolescents is based on the emotional and social integration of music in the curriculum, to promote identity formation in young people.
2.4. Functions of music in adolescence There is no other time in life in which music plays such a central role as in that of a teenager.
Music is the favorite leisure activity of adolescents, surpassing even sports (McFerran, 2010).
Music is also readily available and portable.
Laiho (2004) describes the psychological functions of music in adolescence, among which he highlights emotional function, identity formation and interpersonal relationships. They represent different areas that are crucial for the development and mental health of the adolescent. According to this author, music is an important resource for helping adolescents due to its unique characteristics. One of its main qualities is the ability to influence mood.
This is especially important for teenagers, because their daily experience is often emotionally intense and exhausting with constant mood swings and instability.
Laiho also emphasizes the importance of music in the identification within the peer group. A challenge in adolescence is separation from parents and adjustment of meaningful relationships. Music can reflect the self and relations with the social environment. Music is a framework to form impressions of others, create a context of acceptance among the peer group, and strengthen group cohesion. At the same time, it decreases inhibitions in social situations, makes it easier to get attention and approval, provides topics for discussion, fills the silence and serves as the background to change mood. Experiencing music in a group setting also helps to balance closeness and distance within the peer group.
Music also has the quality to evoke feelings of unity and belonging. Singing, playing or listening to music together is an opportunity to share experiences and feelings. Through these collective emotional experiences one can feel a deep connection with others.
2.4.1. Identity formation and music As noted in paragraph 2.1, in their transition to adulthood, adolescents progress through a process of self-discovery about who they are and what makes them unique. This process is not Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 13 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation isolated, rather adolescents compare how they see themselves and how others perceive them.
The connection between how they perceive themselves and the perception of others is considered crucial to achieving this developmental task. Too much difference between the two perceptions can lead to a confusion of role or identity crisis and increases their isolation (Erikson, 1981).
For Laiho (2004), one of the main reasons for adolescents to use music is related to identity formation. Music can encourage thinking and the consideration of the concept of self and identity, while symbolically it reflects the inner world of the individual. Music speaks to the concerns of adolescents, sexuality, autonomy, individuality, romantic love, family values, dance, identity, drugs, religion, social change, getting drunk, etc.
Music is often used to seek acceptance, since our musical preferences reflect who we are, and let others see us. It also serves to create a personal space and to show rebellion against the dominant adult ideologies.
In the task of identity formation, it is essential self-expression within the peer group (McFerran, 2004). The power to express oneself freely in a peer group favors the formation of identity and self-expression and for McFerran this would be the focus of group work with adolescents.
It is important the clear connection between self-expression and identity formation during adolescence. But this objective depends on a crucial achievement: that of group cohesion.
Northern & Kurland (2001) explain that group cohesion is manifested in the individual group members as a "sense of belonging and attraction to the group." This is important for the group process because cohesive groups meet the needs of belonging and unity of their members.
McFerran (2005) proposes the inclusion of music to work on self-expression in a group setting, through active methods of songwriting and receptive methods of listening to favorite songs.
2.5. Music Therapy and Adolescents
I believe the book of McFerran (2010) Adolescents, Music and Music Therapy, an essential tool and reference book to understand the different methods and techniques of music therapy with adolescents. In her book, she explains what she considers fundamental regarding 'how to work with adolescents' and describes the main methods for working with them: song Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 14 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation methodology (divided into pre-existing songs and composition of original songs), and the use of musical improvisation. McFerran produces an exhaustive review of bibliography on music therapy literature and adolescents and discusses the current approaches. She also presents several case examples and illustrative vignettes describing each type of intervention.
Young people's favorite music acts as a mirror and a window of their life experience. This is the starting point, which McFerran (2010) poses in her study on working with adolescents, stating that using the pre-existing relationship between the teenager and their favorite music can be very powerful, while at the same time pleasurable, both for the adolescent and for the music therapist. The pre-existing relationship between the teenager and their music facilitates emotional expression and the connections between the adolescent and the world around them, peers, therapist, etc.- (McFerran, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2010a).
McFerran (2010) speaks of the various models of music therapy with adolescents according to the objectives and needs to be worked on. The author relates each model with a different psychological theoretical framework. She establishes a map of how music therapy can be used with teenagers, based on different approaches, among which the humanistic approach stands out, since she was educated within this movement.
To McFerran, if the intended result is identity formation, the attitude of the therapist would be "flow with it" and the therapeutic intent would be "to offer acceptance" to teenagers. This would be a model of "resource oriented music therapy", within the framework of humanistic psychology. This is the direction that is closest to my goals of identity formation, and is the dominant orientation in this music therapy process. In this, I have used some of the fundamentals of gestalt therapy that belongs to the humanist movement.
Marisa Manchado (2006), in Musicoterapia gestáltica reflects on the connections between gestalt therapy and music.
Gestalt is a German word whose rough translation would be emergent figure, "figure that emerges from the ground''. Gestalt therapy has been called "the therapy of awareness''.
Awareness also has connotations of being alert and attentive, as an attitude of wakefulness, not as willful effort (Manchado, 2006).
Attention in music education, perceiving in a relaxed manner, is basic. Without awareness of body, rhythm and breathing there is no possibility of learning "naturally and in a relaxed Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 15 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation way." Relaxed attention is a prerequisite for proper assimilation of musical content (Manchado, 2006).
There are several common work elements in music therapy and gestalt therapy. Both in music therapy and gestalt therapy, are essential listening and attention training, discipline observating the here and now, interpersonal and intrapersonal work, polar elements and spontaneity.
Gestalt Therapy is based on the current valuation of the present (instead of the past or the future), and of the act instead of the symbol. Another important aspect is the assessment of responsibility, understanding that we are responsible for ourselves, with a permanent invitation to the person to take responsibility for what they are doing, feeling, avoiding, denying, willing, inhibiting, etc.
The Gestalt therapist uses his own feelings and moods as therapeutic tools, to realize what is happening in the situation and group field.
The emphasis is on attitude: transparency, honesty, conscience in the present, body-emotion and thought as a holistic value. Value is given to experience as a basic element of therapeutic change or learning, just as in musical learning (Manchado, 2006).
In my music therapy intervention with adolescents, I use the Gestalt approach as a way of being and an attitude towards them, being attentive myself and trying to listen to what is emerging in the process. The aim is for teenagers to expand awareness of themselves, take responsibility and be conscious of what they need or choose to do at the present time.
Of the methods and techniques used in music therapy with adolescents, we focus on those based on song methodology, used for the group of adolescents in this project. In the next section I will examine these methods in more detail, especially the use of the technique of songwriting with adolescents.
2.5.1. Song methodology
As Bruscia (1998) states, songs are ways in which we as human beings explore our emotions.
They express who we are and how we feel, they make us come closer to others and accompany us when we are alone. They articulate our beliefs and values and are witnesses to our lives. They reveal our innermost secrets and express our hopes, disappointments, fears Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 16 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation and triumphs. They are like our diaries or life stories. In short, they are the sounds of our personal development.
The work on songs aimed at the adolescent population is divided into two types of activities (McFerran, 2010):
- Use of existing favorite songs.
220.127.116.11. Using existing favorite songs The use of teenagers' favorite songs means entering their home ground and the deep personal feelings and meanings that they have given to their music. This music communicates personal meanings and metaphors that would rarely be expressed to an adult and adolescent peer group outside of this context. The use of favorite songs is particularly powerful in this aspect (McFerran, 2010).
The adolescent may feel listened to and respected with regard to personal and intimate aspects, and can share information and feelings they have not shared with anyone else, through a favorite song. According to Ruud (1980), using the favorite music of adolescents means the performance or expression of their identity to the exterior, and therefore the use of songs as part of therapy is a direct way to engage in the process of identity formation. The "compromise" or bond the adolescent has with their favorite song helps them to break down their habitual defenses and talk about themselves and show themselves to others (McFerran, 2010).
To promote self-awareness, listening to favorite songs is accompanied by some sort of verbal processing, through dialogue or discussion time after listening to the song, which facilitates awareness and growth. The music therapist stimulates these expressions asking about the associations that teenagers make between everyday life and what the song expresses. In this case the activity is based on listening to recorded songs, rather than the interpretation of live songs.
In many cases, adolescents, especially boys, are unable to articulate their responses to music through verbal discussion. Then, a live performance of this song is used as a way to communicate what they cannot put into words. The therapy here is the experience of the musical process, and this supports the development of the therapeutic relationship. The Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 17 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation therapist in this case has a role to offer acceptance, rather than attempting to promote selfawareness through verbal discussion. Here what is emphasized is the therapy that occurs in the music, rather than after the music.
Songwriting in music therapy has been defined by Wigram and Baker (2005, p. 16) as "the process of creating, transcribing and/or writing lyrics and music by the client or clients and therapist within a therapeutic relationship to address the client's psychosocial, emotional and cognitive needs".
Songwriting offers a musical framework, which can be structured and flexible at the same time, for the expression of thoughts and feelings.
Wigram and Baker (2005), referring to "songwriting as therapy," say that within groups, songs help develop group cohesion, encouraging social interaction and providing peer support.
According to Roob (1996), songwriting can be used in a group setting as well as individual.