«Student: Nazaret Gómez Roca Supervisor: Esperanza Torres Secondary supervisor: Ulla Holck Master thesis at the Master Programme in Music Therapy ...»
The group offers adolescents an opportunity to come together to share and affirm their feelings, socialize within a peer group, get approval from their peers and express feelings in a safe and confidential environment. As parts of the song are written and composed, members of the group describe their experiences and feelings about those experiences. The music therapist serves as group facilitator by making explicit their comments and ideas. Roob notes that songs written in a peer group tend to be of a more humorous tone, but the issues involved are often quite serious.
According to Wigram and Baker (2005), the essence of the art of songwriting in therapy is that the song can capture the identity of the person. This is why the music therapist puts so much emphasis on the importance of their clients creating the song based, as far as possible, on their own ideas, material and musical preference.
Writing songs with adolescents is also similar to the concept of "music as therapy'', where what is emphasized is the therapy that occurs in the musical process, rather than the verbal processing which follows. Here, the process and product of writing a song in therapy sessions is the therapeutic intervention. The therapeutic effect is caused by the adolescents' creation, their interpretation and recording of their song. The therapist's role within the music therapy Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 18 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation relationship is to facilitate this process, ensuring that teenagers create a composition that they feel belongs to them and expresses their personal needs, feelings and thoughts (Wigram and Baker, 2005).
Wigram and Baker (2005) relate the different methods and techniques of songwriting, differentiating techniques for writing the lyrics and techniques for creating music. These techniques are used depending on the population and their needs. Among the techniques of lyric creation is the therapeutic creation of lyrics before developing the music; leading a brainstorming session; helping clients to write new lyrics and giving them examples of music to choose from; selecting words from a list; using poems or lyrics the client has previously composed in another situation; the client writes a new poem; role playing and acting through puppetry; gap-filling techniques in familiar songs; a technique of parody of popular songs, using the music, changing the lyrics; collage of songs, using books with songs or a list of songs from the CD and selecting words and phrases from existing songs that have meaning for them; generating lists of rhyming words that rhyme with keywords have been introduced;
using lyrics from existing songs; development of home-made lyrics between sessions;
inventing a spontaneous story between client and therapist based on the open sentence "Once upon a time..."; the therapist writes down the words and phrases created spontaneously by the patient; open-ended questions on a subject; direct questions to clarify a patient's issues;
questions to choose from or to reply yes or no to; strategic songwriting, in which the therapist composes the song in advance for a specific purpose or a specific patient.
Among the techniques of musical creation are making music using instruments while the therapist supports the client's improvisation; musical sound effects to accompany the lyrics or stories; create music that depicts or describes the emotion or image associated with a word or phrase; use existing melodies or parts of songs that inspire or give structure to the musical composition; a process whereby the music therapist creates the music and the client decides if he wants it that way; improvised melody on a pattern of 2 or 4 chords, creating an atmosphere appropriate to the subject communicated through the songs; to determine the style and tone of the song; transcription of the music made in the session to score; collective techniques that involve the participation of more than one person, using dialogue between two or more participants or question and answer; songs sung in one tone, like a recitative.
Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 19 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation 2.5.2. Music Therapist´s Role In this project, the music therapist's role is mainly to offer acceptance, and "flow with it" of what is happening in the present moment. The music therapist also seeks to facilitate selfawareness through verbal processing of musical material. This role varies depending on the different degrees of resistance shown by teenagers when verbalizing their perceptions, emotions, experiences and thoughts.
2.6. Qualitative research criteria
Research method The project is based on a humanistic approach, focusing on identity formation through music and music therapy in the peer group. Due to the nature of the phenomenon, it requires a qualitative research method, which does not begin with a method or specific design, and is then imposed on the phenomenon. Instead of this, it starts by focusing on the phenomenon, approaching it in an exploratory way, and then describing how the phenomenon will reveal itself in its own way (Wheeler, 2005). The qualitative study emerges through a process of discovery.
Qualitative research is also a personal process, and the entire study can be viewed as a personal creation of the researcher (Wheeler, 2005).
This is an exploratory and explanatory study with the focus on the processes of emotional expression, interpersonal relationships and identity formation in the music therapy process.
This research is close to the methods and objectives of action research in educational practice, in which participants reflect on the educational process itself, in order to improve and learn from experience.
Action research is characterized by an orientation towards improving the quality of education, and to guide teachers, the key players, as teacher-researchers (Zahonero, 2009). The researcher-teacher tries to help resolve problems and improve educational practice.
We can speak of a triangulation method, given that for this research the following data are analyzed: the music therapist´s diary journal, the participants' diaries, the video-audio recordings of the sessions, and the products of the activities (music and song lyrics). In research, triangulation methods are based on the use of multiple sources of information and independent measures compared in the search for understanding reality.
3.1. Background I found numerous examples of literature in English demonstrating the effect of music therapy with adolescents. Much of it speaks of aggressive adolescents (Rickson & Watkins, 2003), emotionally disturbed adolescents (McFerran, 2010; Haines, 1989; Roob,
1996) or adolescents at risk (McFerran, 2010; Brooks, 1989; Henderson, 1983), others of community music therapy with adolescents with different problems (McFerran, 2010;
Ansdell, 1995), etc.
Rickson & Watkins (2003) conducted a pilot study to see whether music therapy was effective in promoting pro-social behavior in aggressive boys, who had learning, social and emotional problems. Research is carried out in a special residential school. The results suggest that the music therapy program, which promotes autonomy and creativity, can help adolescents to interact more appropriately with others in a residential environment, but can also lead to more disruptive behaviour in the school class. They also conclude that adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can reap greater benefits from more structured programs and smaller groups.
Keen (2005) conducted a study in which he defended the benefits of using music as a therapeutic tool to encourage teenagers who have experienced trauma. The author argues in favor of the use of music to break down the communication barriers that often occur when teenagers do not have a solid base of communication. He uses pre-test and post-test data to measure the effectiveness of using music in his private clinical practice. He claims that techniques such as listening and discussion about a song, writing lyrics, composing music and performing it, have proved very useful in facilitating self-expression, projecting thoughts and feelings in a discussion, improving self-awareness and encouraging verbalization, offering a pleasant and safe environment, facilitating relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety. He concludes that music used deliberately and carefully, has proved a useful tool in the therapeutic process because of its non-verbal, creative and emotional qualities.
Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 21 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Gold, Voracek & Wigram (2004) investigated the effectiveness of music therapy in children and adolescents with psychopathology, and analyzed whether the efficiency of music therapy is influenced by the type of pathology, patient age, the music therapy focus and the type of result. The analysis shows that music therapy has a significant positive effect, with clinical findings consistent and statistically significant. The authors conclude that music therapy is an effective intervention in children and adolescents with psychopathology. Music therapy produces a clinically relevant effect and may be recommended for clinical use. Music therapy for children and adolescents seems to be more effective when combining different approaches to music therapy.
In a subsequent study, Gold, Wigram & Voracek (2007) investigated the relationship between the therapeutic techniques used with children and adolescents and the therapeutic changes that occur. The main finding was that children and adolescents in music therapy change more when specific music therapy techniques are used (such as verbal improvisation and reflection of the music), and other less specific music therapy techniques (such as free play) are not used. The most obvious explanation given by the authors is that the musical interaction can provide some unique opportunities for therapeutic change that are not inherent in play activities. The findings indicate the importance of being aware of the strengths and limitations specific to a method of therapy.
They conclude that more research is needed on the specific components of the music therapy intervention.
A central issue in the adolescent population is the theme of identity. Music therapy allows the adolescent to establish a relationship with themselves and develop a positive sense of self, which increases their ability to interact with both peers and adults (McFerran, 2010).
McFerran (2005), in an article on how the use of songs with teenagers underlines the value of using music in group work with adolescents and highlights the ability of music to facilitate authentic self-expression, and to promote cohesion objective group. The author believes that self-expression is the central objective or goal to develop in group work with adolescents. For her it is valuable that adolescents are encouraged to communicate honestly within a group forum because of the task of identity formation.
Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 22 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation McFerran (2005) argues that artistic expression can play an important role because nonverbal communication is suitable for those who have difficulty expressing themselves in words, and songs can bridge the gap between artistic metaphor and language.
Through the use of current pop-rock songs in the sessions, you can set a mode of communication between the adolescent and adult, who does not judge the lyrics or the songs chosen by the boy or girl. The music therapist permits in this way that the songs serve as expression through their lyrics, rhythms and the feelings transmitted by the music as well as through the attitude, the way of dressing, grooming, etc. of the singers (Tervo, 1985, 1991).
Tervo (2001), based on 20 years of clinical experience of music therapy with adolescents, says that music, particularly rock music, can give young people the opportunity to express themselves, to be in touch, and to share together the feelings of rage, anger, pain, nostalgia and psychological disintegration. At the same time the author believes that music helps adolescents to experience proximity and isolation, and to explore their emotions and sexual fantasies.
Percussion instruments, songwriting, listening to music and singing as a group are safe techniques that can help the adolescent to learn a way of appropriate self-expression (Brooks, 1989). In a more profound work, the music therapist can use role-play along with music. In this way the music therapist allows the teenager to leave their usual role as a teenager and become their favorite singer, an adult with whom they are having problems, or one of their peers. Interpreting the lyrics of songs both existing and newly created gives the teenager the opportunity to find more socially acceptable ways of expressing rage, anger and extreme frustration. This type of activity is great for peer interaction, for the sense of self and for communication (Brooks, 1989).
Referring to the main technique used in this music therapy project with adolescents, songwriting, Wigram and Baker (2005) point out that music therapy literature has plentiful examples of the use of songwriting as therapy, and there are few research papers describing the method and the results of this technique in treatment.
In my literature review I found many articles about using songwriting as a technique with teenagers, both individually and in a group context. These refer to different types of people such as desperate and depressed adolescents (Goldstein, 1990), adolescents who have suffered abuse (Lindberg, 1995), adolescents at risk (Tyson 2002, 2004), adolescents who have Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 23 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation experienced trauma (Roob, 1996), etc. The songwriting technique is used primarily as a way to facilitate group cohesion, emotional expression and identity formation.