«Student: Nazaret Gómez Roca Supervisor: Esperanza Torres Secondary supervisor: Ulla Holck Master thesis at the Master Programme in Music Therapy ...»
I believe this is a universal feeling and is talking about the process of mourning for the infant stage we left behind us, which we can all suffer at some point in our adolescence. This may be reflected in the phrase: "noto que se ha acabado, que ese niño ha crecido, que otra cosa ha comenzado, y que yo no he querido". ("I notice that it's over, that child is grown, something else has started, and I did not want it so").
Adolescence is characterized by an internal crisis due to losses that young people must confront. For Aberasturi and Knobel (1984) the teenager goes through three key stages of
1. Grieving for the lost child's body.
2. Grieving for the child's role and identity that forces them to reject dependence and accept responsibilities which are often unknown. This may be reflected in the phrase: “Me acuerdo de pequeña, cuando todo era perfecto, que yo era una princesa, y mi vida era un cuento. No existía preocupación solamente diversión...”.
("I remember as a child, when everything was perfect, I was a princess, and my life was a fairytale. There were no concerns only fun...").
3. Grieving for the parents of their childhood who they persistently try to retain in their personality, looking for the shelter and protection they provided. See:“¿Dónde quedó ese niño? Que tanto me gustaba, necesito ese cariño que todo el mundo me daba...”. ("Where is that child? I loved so much, I need the affection that everyone gave me...").
According to Garaigordobil (2008) these periods of grieving are true losses of personality which lead the adolescent to the instability that defines them, the product of the evolving situation.
To begin the next session, I ask Pilar to read the lyrics and we discuss what they mean to her.
She says they talk about a time when things were easier and she had no responsibilities, her family always showed their affection, and not so much was required in her studies. That day there is a great silence. The others listen intently. I feel we have something important and Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 46 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation meaningful to them. Someone also says something similar is happening to them. Then I propose that we should create the music for these lyrics. They all nod with great interest.
At that moment I am led by my intuition. I think the message of the song is very powerful and expresses a sentiment with which everyone can identify. I get the feeling that Pilar might have something in mind as to how she wants it to sound. She has a beautiful voice and has participated in singing several times and this is a potential that I think could be developed.
I turn to the piano and ask Pilar: Do you have any idea of how you want this song to sound?
What about the melody? Have you thought of something?
She says "it could be something like this," and intones the first two sentences of the song with quite a clear melody. I ask her to repeat, while I take the audio recorder, to record the tune.
Thus, it is also registered for the following session, and I can listen to it and transcribe it after the session.
Figure 1: Original melody.
Regarding how to procede with the composition I often wonder whether the simplest way would be to take an existing melody and create a harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment or on the other hand start with some chords or a particular harmony to create a melody. I think this is a personal thing and it depends on each person and the various situations from which a song arises as to whether they decide to do it one way or another. In this project I have used both forms of writing with adolescents, but this time I opted for the melody that she had in Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 47 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation mind to create a harmonic accompaniment on the piano since she had a pretty good idea of the melody.
We spent a few minutes looking for the chords that can accompany this melody. Another girl we'll call Alicia, who plays a little guitar, looks for the chords that can accompany it. After several attempts we see clearly it should start in a minor key with a few descending chords and we test the Am - G - F - G.
The structure starts to take shape. These chords are repeated like a wheel for the first and second stanzas. While we see how it sounds, Alicia and Miriam try to help Pilar define her melody. Miriam thinks it could be similar to another song she knows and Pilar agrees to listen to her. Others express their opinion and when Miriam finishes singing her version, they decide they prefer Pilar's melody. And then we continue and repeat once again what we have until now.
The rest of the group, who have been listening carefully and are attentive to what is coming, begin now to create an accompaniment for the song once the harmonic framework, the slow tempo and a 4/4 compass are established. I ask them to choose an instrument to complement and support what we are doing.
Silvia and Iker choose a metallophone, Laura and Sonia choose a snare drum and a hit hat cymbals respectively. Mercedes grabs a tambourine and a drumstick to complement the rhythm. Celso is doubtful and tries several small percussion instruments (rattles, shakers). He decides on the egg-shaped shakers.
We go back to what we have so far. I ask them to look for some motif to complement the existing melody. We repeat several times and they improvise and look for something. Silvia finds a motif on the metallophone she likes and I ask her to repeat it. I suggest using it in modo ostinato. Iker finds a repetitive motif, similar to Silvia's.
Figure 2: Example of metallophone ostinato, Silvia.
Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 48 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation For their part, the three girls responsible for creating the rhythm and drums find a rhythmic pattern they like. After repeating the same harmony for the first few bars several times, I suggest a harmonic change from minor to major in the chorus. They agree and the harmony changes in the chorus and other consecutive verses to C - G - Am - Fm.
When analyzing the song subsequently created, I realize it is a very familiar structure to them, because we played it before in a previous song: Hold my hand by Akon and Michael Jackson, which Mercedes had brought in and they had enjoyed themselves very much and had been very close. They are also the same chords of No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley.
Once we have established a basic structure, with a melody, a harmonic field, a little rhythm and ostinato motifs that complement the music, we have the basis to continue creating. We repeat our composition a couple of times and improvise at the end of the piece, leaving the space open for whatever may come.
In this session, the teenagers are fully engaged and involved in the creation of music and each group member is responsible for their part. Everyone has a role or roles assigned. Before finishing the session I ask them to record the parts separately to register them so as not to lose the work. Aware that their creation is not finished, and that very rich material has come out of the session, I try to collect and save it to work on in subsequent sessions.
It has been a very good session. When the bell rings I praise them for the good job they've done and I say that I really like what they have done, which is absolutely true.
My attitude was to go with the flow of what was emerging while simultaneously following a creative impulse that was trying to tune into the emotional atmosphere of the song. I was trying to be engaged and listening to everything that was coming up while at the same time involving all members of the group. The idea of having a collective creation that everyone felt they were part of was reflected in the adolescents' comments about how they were feeling.
One student said: "Today's class was cool !" and "I love how the song is going".
Extract of my diary Session 17:
"It was a very special session. Today we've been composing Pilar's song. I was amazed at how well it flowed and how engaged, respectful and collaborative the adolescents were. I felt we were making real contact. I felt very at ease and confident with the situation, while excited about the composition, and very engaged. They were happy and proud of what they did. I felt it was a special and important moment. ".
Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 49 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Comments from the teenagers' diaries about feeling comfortable, relaxed, and doing
something for the first time:
Alicia: "...this class has made me feel very calm. We did something new and different that I had never done before, and that gave me motivation to keep writing and giving ideas for the song... Throughout the session I noticed a sense of coordination... I had never felt with other people... it was like taking something out that was inside me, all those memories of my childhood and releasing them was unique. I didn't feel like putting the guitar down when the bell rang... the song is an original and emotive subject which I will always remember, but I think some of the metallophones should be removed because the sound is very sharp, and it would be good to put some wood in the bass.. ".
Silvia: "...I felt very at ease, because composing relaxes me, it puts me in a good mood, I am happy when I participate in the creation of a song... if I concentrate on creating a rhythm, then I feel great, it's comforting to know that you have participated in the creation of a song and that you've made a good contribution... I've learned that with some lyrics for reference we can create a thousand rhythms and we feel very inspired and start creating... In the group I think we had a great atmosphere, relaxed but energetic. We worked together very well and I think we were all very happy... I think the highlight of the session was when we started to create music for Pilar's song... I do identify with the song Pilar has written, I identify with certain things... I felt sad, I recalled the time when I was little and that makes me feel happy...
there are times when I miss the love and attention of my parents... I need my parents more than I thought... ".
Miriam: "...today we have used the lyrics of a song that Pilar brought in... we have put a melody to the lyrics, using instruments... The result, for me, was quite a beautiful I felt very good... I think the song's lyrics clearly reflect her feelings... ".
Laura: "...what I liked best is when we played instruments and we were all playing and giving ideas... ".
Sonia: "...what I liked most was when we sang Pilar's song, which turned out very well...".
Mercedes writes in her diary: "...I have learned that when a person writes a song and writes what they feel, it also makes others express things they don't often think, as is the case of Pilar, we sang her song...".
This comment reflects the importance for the group to express what everyone feels through this song. The emerging figure is in the field, and is expressed through Pilar. This emerging figure is childhood and memories and feelings that they have kept from their childhood. The fact that this song is meaningful to them is because of something that is present in the field Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 50 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation and emerges as a phenomenon in the group process, it emerges as a figure from the undifferentiated ground. It has formed a good "gestalt" or figure, and is reflected in the feeling of the entire group as being meaningful to them, and they have made real contact with what is present, with what exists.
On the other hand the creative work as a group is particularly unifying. Everyone is on his own task, and in a common task at the same time. They listen to each other, they complement each other. They respect turns. It is not necessary to ask them to be quiet since they themselves are self-regulating in their interventions. They give each other Ideas. They rely on what each member is doing and they give opinions to each other about what they like and dislike about the part that involves everyone. We make common decisions (What do you like best about this rhythm or that one? or Do you think this melody is better than another?; Shall I use a glockenspiel or a metallophone?; I prefer the rhythm we used at the beginning...). In short, we create an environment conducive to making shared music.
In their diaries they express the pleasure produced through the collaboration of the whole
group for this common task:
Alicia: "...today we composed another piece of the song. I liked it, I managed to feel the same way as the other day. When Pilar asked me for help, we quickly solved the problem of intonation, and we cooperated again. When she asked me for help I felt important in the sense that being able to help in music has strengthened me and made me feel very at ease because I realized that she values me as a partner and member of the group...".
Upon hearing the recording of the song I wrote down in my diary some of words, as reflections about the process: "Melancholy, strength, order, silence, empathy, respect, gentleness, development, communication, dialogue, intention, lasting, commitment".
I think all these words define quite well this great moment of genuine expression in the group process, which resulted in this song about childhood. This is an example of how music can serve to create a group, fostering unity, cohesion, dialogue, communication, respect and confidence in a group space.
The way in which silence is present is to me an indication that there is listening and communication among group members. The way they listen to each other has changed since the beginning of the process, when their music was louder and in discussions they all spoke at once. That can be perceived by comparing the recordings of the sessions.