«Student: Nazaret Gómez Roca Supervisor: Esperanza Torres Secondary supervisor: Ulla Holck Master thesis at the Master Programme in Music Therapy ...»
With regard to songwriting and identity formation we find the research carried out by McFerran, Baker, Patton & Sawyer (2006). These authors carried out a retrospective study, analyzing the lyrics of songs written by adolescents with anorexia nervosa, to identify common themes expressed through songwriting. They analyze the lyrics of 17 songs written by 15 girls who had been part of the music therapy program at a hospital in Melbourne, and had written at least one lyric during a music therapy session.
To analyze the issues they established six categories identified by literature and clinical experience. The topics are divided into: relationships, identity, aspirations, reference to the illness and the impact it has on their lives, emotional awareness and access to support. The results show that the theme of "identity" is the most widely used, together with the sub-theme of exploring new behaviors and they suggest that interventions with songwriting can support the processing of important therapeutic issues in adolescents with anorexia nervosa.
Within the educational framework, the literature speaks of projects with adolescents with special needs, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental delay, etc. (McFerran, 2010, Montello & Cones, 1998).
There is a project that speaks of a high school intervention to prevent adjustment difficulties in Korean adolescent girls (Kim et al, 2006). This pilot study attempts to analyze the effectiveness of a school intervention using music as a component of group psychotherapy for healthy teenage girls. The study was conducted with 35 adolescents who received a group music therapy program. The techniques used included listening to music and group singing, changing tempo and melody in a piece of music, songwriting, and music mixed with body movement. The musical material used was selected from what was considered popular music among Korean teenage girls. They concluded that the participants obtained several beneficial results that can serve as protective factors to prevent possible disruptions in social and emotional development.
Another project that explores music therapy with adolescents in an educational framework and from a preventive approach is to Nöker-Ribaupierre & Wölfl (2010). This is a pilot study that takes place in Munich, in two boarding schools and aims to prevent violence in the context of the growing immigrant adolescent population in German schools, which is forced Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 24 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation to deal with cultural differences and language difficulties. They start with the assumption that through music, one offers a thematic framework which can regulate affection and aggression, resolve conflicts, avoid and resist feared situations and deal constructively with aggression.
The authors believe that working creatively on specific issues promotes mutual respect, acceptance of individual differences and social integration, particularly in classes with teenagers from different cultures.
Nöker-Ribaupierre & Wölfl focus on two interrelated aspects: music and improvisation as a means of cooperation, self-regulation and emotional regulation as a means of preventing violence. The program aims to provide children and adolescents the opportunity to actively make music with instruments that are easy to play in the group context of the class. This serves as a means of expressing their mental state and tension. They also involve teachers in the program so it aims to improve the relationship between them and their students. The final results of the research are not presented, since the pilot project is still ongoing when the authors write the article, although they emphasize the great potential in using music for therapeutic means when it is conveniently prepared and applied as a preventive and healing tool for children and adolescents.
Also in the educational setting, I found very interesting the experiece of McFerran and Hunt (2008). They use music in schools to promote healthy management of pain and loss. The study describes three research projects that use two different research approaches to investigate the benefits of music therapy as support for adolescents who suffer the loss of a loved one. The methods offered as a means of expression for the adolescents are musical improvisation and songwriting. The first study uses a phenomenological approach to data analysis, and the other two use the principles of formal action research in their design.
The authors state that schools are increasingly offering the social services that had previously been carried out by the church, large families and other sources of support. They believe that today, schools are the easiest place for teenagers to get support, and therefore schools require community help to meet the many expectations on them, apart from teaching.
The starting point for the first project was to provide music therapy groups within the school and each successive project sought to improve the way this service was offered. The first project demonstrated that adolescents who had lost a loved one, wanted to have some control over the research project, in response to the loss of control that had previously experienced in losing a loved one. The second project identified that teenagers could only have control within the school community if the team of teachers supported them. The third project Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 25 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation concluded that, even with the support of the school community, the adolescents' first priority was to address their own issues of grief and loss, asking for much less comprehension from the school community about their pain and loss.
McFerran, Roberts & O'Grady (2010) conducted another study on the potential of using music therapy with bereaved adolescents, collecting qualitative and quantitative data and analyzing them. They based it on the experiences mentioned above, in which the school was used as a place to learn to manage pain, and the proven success that music therapy had to this effect (McFerran & Hunt, 2008).
The Australian Government requested this research to explore the potential of music therapy with the afflicted adolescent population with a view to using this type of intervention as a preventive health intervention. The researchers believe that gathering data from qualitative and quantitative sources could improve the interpretation of their findings.
They locate a school in Melbourne which has a psychosocial support program, to carry out their research. The program involves 16 adolescents. Among the music therapy techniques offered to the adolescents are the songwriting, free improvisation with percussion instruments, or listening to familiar songs followed by a discussion of their meaning. The results show that the central theme that emerged was ''having permission for pain." Another five sub-themes reflect the changes they consider as beneficial: the move from being stuck to advancing; going from being repressed to emotional expression; going from being stressed to being relaxed; going from being isolated to being connected; and going form having to keep a situation secret to sharing it.
The authors conclude that the results which express descriptions of emotional relief show the connection between music and emotions. The participants state that the music group is a way of expressing their emotions. The pre-existing relationship between the young people and their music serves as a platform for emotional expression and connection that is used within a format of group and therapeutic support (McFerran, Robert & O'Grady, 2010).
Spanish literature in the field of music therapy and an educational framework is very limited.
The work of Zahonero Rovira (2007) stands out. The author has done several projects with students in a Secondary School, recorded in her doctoral thesis ''La influencia de la Musicoterapia en el Clima de Convivencia de los Institutos de Educacion Secundaria'' (2006) ("The Influence of Music Therapy on Coexistance in Secondary Schools"). The author supports the inclusion of music therapy programs at school, as is done in other countries like the USA, Finland and the United Kingdom, where they conduct pioneering experiments in Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 26 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation music therapy in which music therapy support is provided to adolescents within the school setting and she cites anecdotal interventions that are beginning to be made in Secondary Schools in the Community of Madrid.
Zahonero illustrates the music therapy intervention in school, with a study on the implications of music therapy in improving coexistence in a secondary school of the Community of Madrid. The program is implemented throughout the school year to a group of 14 special needs teenagers in the second year of Secondary Education, in which music therapy is introduced as a Curricular Adaptation to the Subject of Music. The personal educational needs of adolescents includes sociolinguistic integration, problems of absenteeism resulting from broken homes, neglect, medical conditions, school maladjustment, learning difficulties and marked curricular gaps, and emotional and behavioral problems, as reflected in very disruptive behavior in the school environment. Their activities are mainly based on improvisation, and are based on the personal experiences of adolescents with regard to sound and music.
Zahonero concludes that music therapy leads to classroom integration, improved relations among group members, increased self-esteem, increased self-confidence, which are reflected in many cases in better academic performance. Both the students and the people around them (faculty, parents) rated the experiment as being very positive and special.
Zahonero (2009) also stresses the importance of reflection in the learning process for qualitative research in education. She proposes a teaching practice based on a continuous reflection process in order to learn from this practice to improve learning, as in action research.
The Spanish author Garaigordobil (2008) proposes a psychological intervention for adolescents in school, which is close to the objectives of this project, and focuses on personality development and education on human rights. It is carried out through various activities such as games, artwork, role play, group discussions, etc.., instead of music therapy. Although it is not a focus from a music therapy perspective, this intervention is close to the targets developed in this project. The evaluation of the results of the program highlights the positive impact this has had, both on personal variables and social development.
4.1. Population The program takes place in a Secondary School in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, a town near Madrid, with a group of adolescents aged 15-16 in 4th grade.
Adolescents were selected from those who have chosen music as an option, and the selection criteria was their willingness to study music and compatibility with the timetable of other elective courses offered by the center.
The program is presented to students as a way to acquire a better understanding of themselves and to facilitate their expression through musical activities based on listening and interpreting favorite songs and songwriting, as well as musical improvisation.
This initial framework is important so that they know and understand what we intend and is a way to create a structure needed to develop the process further (Yalom, 2005).
At the beginning the adolescents were given a consent form for video-audio recording of the sessions, to be signed by the parents or guardians, informing them that the videos would be used strictly for professional reasons in areas of review, assessment, supervision and research (Appendix 1).
Although initially, the group consisted of 12 teenagers, two of them (one boy and one girl) abandoned the program in early November, due to timetable inconsistency at the center.
Another student left the high school in December due to a change of family residence.
It is noteworthy that none of the teenagers wanted to leave the group and their departure was motivated by the above causes.
The fact that three teenagers left the group during the first quarter led to a change in group dynamics because two of the teenagers who left the group were male, and gender distribution was more balanced in the beginning (there were 8 girls and 4 boys).
The sessions were in a group. The group consisted of nine teenagers, seven girls and two boys. During the first quarter of the year (October to December) the course syllabus was based on the history of jazz and pop-rock. During the first quarter, students also performed improvisational musical activities, and they brought favorite songs to the classroom, which we listened to or played, we spent two of the three weekly sessions on this. They also prepared a mini concert of three Christmas songs which they performed in the Christmas concert.
Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 28 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Thus students already have a relationship prior to the start of the program in the second quarter (January to March).
The research is carried out in the second quarter of the school year, with 30 sessions with a frequency of three weekly sessions of 50 minutes.
4.2. Objectives and program features
In this music therapy project in a high school I plan to use music as a tool to:
- Encourage free and genuine self-expression in a group setting, including emotional expression.
- Strengthen the sense of self among adolescents, promoting their self-knowledge and the identity formation process.
- Use the music and specially the songwriting technique to favor identity formation.
- Promote interaction with peers and promote social development.
Through observation and analysis of the results I will try to answer the question "How can music and music therapy facilitate emotional expression and interpersonal relationships, supporting the identity formation of adolescents in an educational setting?".
4.3. Music therapy methods and techniques The main music therapy methods used are song methods, especially the method of songwriting. We have also used free musical improvisation.