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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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Silvia says: "...with regard to those who form the group, every day I realize that I know them a little better, and that little by little we're coming together as one big family...".

Most of the adolescents were very active and brought in more than one song, except Iker, who brought only one.

In interpreting favorite songs, teenagers carry out a fun musical activity as a group. Often they themselves pointed out in their diaries and in their comments on the sessions that they got a lot of enjoyment out of singing their favorite songs as a group and then listening to them.

They saw it as a form of union, especially when the songs were liked by the majority.

Alicia says in her diary with regard to singing a favorite song together: "...we agreed to do it... we all had a good time and many people have got over their stage fright... for me this has been the most important and fun moment of the whole session."

Sonia says: "...the best moment for me was when we sang together..."

Here is an example of using a favorite song, session 11, in which Mercedes brought the song "Hold my hand" from Michael Jackson and Akon, which had a catchy rhythm and melody, but at the same time was simple. According to the students, the meaning of love and friendship, support, feeling happy and sad at the same time, was reflected in how they got together and enjoyed singing that song as a group. I think the emotions expressed through that song were present in the group feeling of unity, support and friendship.

Hold my hand (Michael Jackson-Akon)

–  –  –

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 38 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Bridge Chorus

–  –  –


The comments from the teenagers' diaries about this session:

Mercedes: "...I've noticed that when we all like the song and sing it, play it together we can all have a good time...".

Celso : "...listening to the songs we've brought in are the highlights of the session for me... I learned how to play the song Hold my hand in a series of chords…".

Sonia: "...I felt good, and very at ease. I think it's because we sang a song that I like, then I felt very happy and active...".

Pilar: "...today I learned that when someone brings a song that most people like, more people get involved...".

Silvia : "...I like making new rhythms for the songs, learning to experience what sounds right and what sounds wrong, and learning to set rythms at will, and thus give them a more personal touch. The highlight of the session was when we sang together with the accompaniment of piano and guitar...".

When the songs were not so popular among all members, mutual respect was present, but they participated less in singing. In my role as guide to the process I made explicit on several occasions the importance of listening and showing respect by accepting all the issues that the different members of the group were bringing in, even when the songs were not to everyone's taste. This was an opportunity to reinforce the importance of mutual respect and learning about different people and styles.

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 39 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation

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

Emerging figure: childhood In the second phase of the process, I register as a key moment the composition of a song within the group, entitled "Infancia: ¿Dónde quedó ese niño?" ("Childhood: What happened to that child?"). This song results from making full contact with an emerging figure in the process, that is childhood.

The composition of this song with totally original lyrics and music marked a turning point in the development of the group process, and in the way they expressed themselves and began to appear more spontaneous and free, more connected with what was happening to them personally.

I will stop at this point which I consider a "creative adjustment" in the Gestalt sense. This moment is for me a turning point in the group process. We will carefully observe how, through this technique, these aspects of our initial music therapy question are favoured: How can music facilitate emotional expression and interpersonal relationships, supporting identity formation?

Within the gestalt therapy theory, the field concept is based on the idea that the meeting of several people creates a whole, a field of relationships, interactions and energy, a common language, which would be equivalent to collective identity as a group. It is the concept in which figure-ground dynamics occurs.

The therapeutic process in the gestalt sense is the emergence of a shape or form, a gestalt.

When this figure takes on a clear outline, then the work of mobilizing the gestalt or fixed figure is generated (Delacroix, 2008). The group backdrop would be the frame where significant forms emerge: the way we are or the way we do things. The backdrop contains the repetition, drives ancient mechanisms –the incomplete or fixed gestalts– to the foreground so that they can become complete. Thus, self-regulation occurs in the field.

In the free group improvisation we were doing in the sessions, I noticed that songs from their childhood appeared on several occasions ("The lion king", "The little mermaid", "Los payasos de la tele", "Heidi", etc.). Once, when I asked them to give a title to the free musical improvisation just completed, one of the teenagers called it "Childhood memories" and the rest nodded.

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 40 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation

Example of my diary Session 15:

"Today Susana and Alicia are absent. They are not very motivated at the start of the session and do not want to do anything much. No one has brought in a song. In view of this, I propose to sing a song that we heard the previous day in a musical (40 El Musical) we had seen on a school trip. It's “Chica de Ayer” Nacha Pop. It doesn't motivate them and they are not keen to do so. I say we can sing a song about another subject but they cannot agree. About half-way through the session we do some improvisation. The instruction is to let out what they have inside, with voice, instruments or body.

They begin to sing songs from Disney “The lion king”, “The little mermaid”…etc. Someone entitles it “Memories of Childhood”.

They are always aware of the camera, whether it is off or on.

I see they enjoy themselves a lot when they sing children's songs. The energy has changed and now they are participative and motivated.

Children's songs are a recurring theme. They are the emerging figure. I decide to use this to work on in the next session".

According to Bruscia (1999), within the Alvin model of improvisation, singing traditional or folk songs is an active musical improvisation technique important to the group. This is because joining the group around a common heritage or tradition, awakens memories, associations and provides opportunities for a lyrics review.

I believe these moments of free improvisation, in which they remember children's songs, to be similar to moments of play because of the pleasure and enjoyment they produce, letting the students get carried away by the situation. At the same time, they are creative moments, in which communication between group members takes place at different levels, including a symbolic level, different from spoken language.

In the diaries about these sessions, several of them describe improvisation with children's songs as the highlight of the session.

From their diaries about this session:

Sonia : "...for me the highlight was when we all began to sing Disney songs we all knew, because it was an emotional moment that has united us all so much, because it reminded us when we were kids...".

Laura: "...I felt at ease, calm, happy to remember childhood. I learned that I miss childhood...

the moment I most enjoyed was when we sang Disney songs..."

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 41 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation This seems to me very symbolic and I think they are trying to express something with this "repetition." As a therapist I deal with something I see, which is in the field, and here it is the fact that they repeat children's songs. Therefore, I try to make contact with this phenomenon happening in the field, and what this might mean for them.

I write in my journal: "I notice that when they improvise children's songs they are freer and I perceive them to be fully engaged and involved in the activity, all of them wanting to sing and listen to the person who proposes a topic. I guess these songs have a significant emotional load for them. They are really remembering their sound history, that of their childhood".

In the next session I decide to explore this meaning further. We spend the session exploring how their childhood was. I encourage them to think about how they were when they were children, both what they remember and recognize in themselves and what their parents and others told them. I ask them to get into pairs and share these thoughts with their partner. The teenagers participate and express animatedly their memories of childhood, its salient features.

Once they have shared their perceptions of childhood in pairs they come back in a circle and some of them tell the whole group what they were like as children. I invite them to reflect on how they feel different now with regard to their childhood, what things have stayed the same and how things have changed.

As homework for the next session I ask them to write what they would say to that child they used to be in order to create the lyrics of a song.

Thus I am trying to foster contact functions, and teenagers make contact with the emerging figure. This encourages creative adjustment and therefore growth and maturity.

In the next session Pilar brings some written lyrics, with the words she would say to the girl she once was. Usually I consider Pilar to be more timid than other group members. She is the only one who has written the lyrics to her "child".

The words she has written are in the form of song lyrics with several verses and a chorus*:

INFANCIA (¿Dónde quedó ese niño?) *These are the original lyrics. See below for a translation.

Noto que se ha acabado que ese niño ha crecido que otra cosa ha comenzado y que yo no he querido.

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 42 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Me acuerdo de pequeña, cuando todo era perfecto que yo era una princesa y mi vida era un cuento.

No existía preocupación solamente diversión todo era satisfacción y nada depresión.


¿Dónde quedó ese niño?

Que tanto me gustaba Necesito ese cariño Que todo el mundo me daba ¿dónde quedó ese niño?

Queda claro que hay un momento en el que necesitas ayuda tienes ese recuerdo, que parece que todo lo cura.

En el parque por las tardes pasabas las horas muertas diciendo que aunque lo dejes pasearás por las aceras.


¿Dónde quedó ese niño?

Que tanto me gustaba necesito ese cariño que todo el mundo me daba ¿dónde quedó ese niño?

Y aunque no lo diga en alto, echo de menos ese niño, que decía que era el amo, y que no era un chiquillo.

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 43 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Eso era en el pasado,

pero ahora yo digo:

“Ni antes ni ahora soy el amo porque aún tengo ese niño, que aunque en creí perdido el pasado, nunca acabará en el olvido”


¿Dónde quedó ese niño?

Que tanto me gustaba Necesito ese cariño Que todo el mundo me daba ¿dónde quedó ese niño?

CHILDHOOD (What happened to that child?) *Translation.

I notice that it's over that child has grown something else has started and I did not want it so.

I remember as a child, when everything was perfect I was a princess and my life was a fairytale.

There were no concerns just fun everything was satisfaction and no depression.


What happened to that child?

I liked so much I need that affection Everyone gave me What happened to that child?

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 44 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Clearly there is a time when you need help you have that memory, that seems to cure everything In the park in the evenings you idled away your time saying that even if you left it you would go for a stroll along the streets.


What happened to that child?

I liked so much I need that affection Everyone gave me What happened to that child?

And although I don't say it aloud, I miss that child, who said he was the master, and that he wasn't a little boy.

That was in the past,

but now I say:

“Neither before nor now am I the master because I still have that child who I thought was lost in the past I will never forget him”.


What happened to that child?

I liked so much I need that affection Everyone gave me What happened to that child?

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 45 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation To me the lyrics transmit a feeling of sadness and melancholy for that lost childhood. I'm surprised by the sincerity with which she expresses the feeling of loss, and the clarity with which she explains how this child has been dethroned from his childhood paradise. I think that speaks of something quite profound.

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