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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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Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 51 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Figure 3: Song Childhood: What happened to that child? (final version) Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 52 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Through this activity we are promoting identity formation.

With the expression of their emotions, the teenagers are defining themselves, they are expressing inner feelings of melancholy and longing for the easiest time of their lives when they had no responsibilities and concerns. Pilar is expressing her need for affection and attention. The adolescent usually does not know how to express this and though "they do not say it out loud" they have a very great need to feel loved and valued by others ("Necesito ese cariño que todo el mundo me daba"), ("I need that affection everyone gave me"). I've noticed that on occasions there is a trace of sadness in the way Pilar expresses herself with the instruments and in her eyes. She does not tend to speak much to the rest of the group.

In a previous activity in which I asked each one of them to identify themselves with an animal, Pilar said a "kiwi bird" and described it as a "round beast, which gives affection because no one loves it."

If we compare this song with lyrics from one of the first songs written at the beginning of the process by Pilar, we can see reflected the shift from a superficial, more defensive content to something more genuine and connected to her emotional needs. As an example, the following song written by Pilar with two classmates at the beginning of the group process in the first


*These are the original lyrics. See below for a translation.

YA NO MÁS (Con la música de California Girls, Kate Perry) Nosotras somos las mejores del mundo entero, Hoy, voy a hacer, algo que os va a gustar a todos, Nada, nos va a parar, nosotras vamos a disfrutar.

Tu que es lo que te crees, te vamos a aplastar como una hormiguita, Ya no aguanto esto más, conmigo no juegas más, oh oh oh oh oh.

Ahora ven aquí si te atreves tú, Ven aquí y lo comprobarás, Nosotras somos las que mandamos aquí, oh oh oh oh oh.

Representamos al mundo entero, todos nos van a querer besar, porque el ritmo es sólo nuestro, oh oh oh oh oh.

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 53 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation *Translation:

NO MORE NOW (With the music of California Girls, Kate Perry) We are the best in the world, Today, I'll do something you'll all like, Nothing will stop us, we're going to enjoy ourselves.

Who do you think you are, we're going to crush you like an ant, I cannot stand this anymore, don't mess around with me anymore, oh oh oh oh oh.

Now come here if you dare, Come here and you'll see, We are the bosses around here, oh oh oh oh oh.

We represent the whole world, Everyone will want to kiss us, because the rhythm is only ours, oh oh oh oh oh.

Finally, in the adolescents' final assessment, it strikes me that all the teenagers reflect that for them it has been a process in which they have ''lost their embarrassment'' and have increasingly expressed themselves more freely and spontaneously. This is an important fact if we consider the goal of identity formation.

Embarrassment and sense of shame hides self-identity, since it prevents them from being themselves. It has to do with messages related to the social norm, the "shoulds", the internalized preconceptions limit their spontaneity and freedom.

The teenagers comments in relation to the question "Do you think this has helped you to know yourself better? What have you learned throughout the process?".

Celso: "...I managed to open up more to people and not to distrust them so much...".

Laura: "...it has been really useful, I'm not so embarrassed as in the beginning, I express myself better...".

Iker: "...I learned that I was more embarrassed than I thought I was".

Alicia: "I have learned to feel at ease in a class group and to make more positive criticism".

Mercedes: "Now I have discovered many things I'd like to do, and for example, that I shouldn't be so embarrassed".

Miriam: "...yes, it has been useful, above all the songwriting because when I wrote them I learned things about me I didn't know...".

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 54 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation Sonia: "I have learned to stop feeling embarrassed in front of others and see it as something natural".

Pilar: "...with this I have learned that I can give a lot, and I gained a lot of confidence, as well as not being embarrassed any more...".

Based on the above comments I ask "Which activity allowed you to express yourself more freely?". Most agreed that songwriting was the activity that best enabled them to express themselves. Sonia, Alicia and Celso define songwriting as the activity that has allowed them to express themselves more freely; Miriam and Silvia indicate both songwriting and improvisation; Pilar and Laura say songwriting and singing favorite songs; Iker says improvisation and Mercedes, singing favorite songs. Therefore, 7 out of 9 adolescents indicate songwriting as an activity that has allowed them to express themselves more freely.

Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 55 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation

7. Conclusions It is important to point out that the music therapist is simultaneously the observer and researcher of the process, and the person who guides the group process, not as an impartial external observer, but being fully involved in the process itself. In this sense, we should also mention the short time between process development and research.

To assess this project one should take into account that music therapy and its utilities, are unknown to the wider education community, and that as a rule it is not included in the formal syllabus or in the educational psicology support departments, or within music departments.

The fact that the music therapy program is given within the subject of music, and therefore forms part of the school timetable, means that it has to be adapted to fit the syllabus as does its evaluation. This is a pilot program, which needs to meet initial requirements to be carried out successfully. These needs are linked to the number of students that can form the group, which cannot be large, and their own predisposition so that the project is beneficial for them.

Nevertheless, the importance and significance of including these types of programs in schools have become apparent, as they facilitate interpersonal relationships, self-awareness, emotional expression, identity development, and ultimately the taste and motivation to learn and use music as a tool of expression.

The initial support of the project by the management team was essential to be able to carry it out. I believe it would be very beneficial in other schools to include this possibility of personal and group development in their programming.

It is strongly recommended that opportunities for research and experimentation should be fostered in institutions where the professor-teacher-therapist could participate in working groups and / or discussion in a way that would enhance the experience and motivation for dynamic changes in school education. In this sense I fully agree with Zahonero (2009) about the importance of reflection as a learning medium and the improvement of our educational, therapeutic and investigative practice in conjunction with action research methods. The simple fact of qualitative research experiments like this can lead to the experiment becoming widespread and can bring about change and improvements in this process.

One of the major discussion points, which often arises when it comes to the inclusion of music therapy in the educational context is the delimitation or difference between what is Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 56 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation therapeutic and educational, and the appropriateness or otherwise of introducing a program like this in schools. As seen in the bibliographical review, several authors stress the need to give schools resources to support young people, previously delegated to other institutions like the church, or other sources of support. Today the challenge for schools is to be able to meet the demands of society in this regard. I share the idea of McFerran & Hunt (2008) that schools today are the most accessible places for teenagers to get support, and therefore require community help to meet the expectations that fall on them.

The general characteristics of the students of this school indicate that they belong to middle class families of 4, in which both parents work. This means that many of the students are alone both at lunchtime and during the evening. Students complain of the few leisure activities they can do in the town, and the school itself provides few extracurricular activities.

In recent years, moreover, there has been a considerable increase in pupils with special educational needs such as immigrants or those in socially deprived circumstances.

Therefore, I consider it to be highly beneficial to include music therapy programs as support whether they are preventive interventions for imbalances in development, as with this project, or whether they have a therapeutic function for adolescents with special needs.

Through the results of this research we see clearly the benefits brought to adolescents from having a space where they are encouraged to communicate honestly within a group forum with the aim of self and identity formation, and the ability of music to facilitate authentic selfexpression. This project has allowed them to be more themselves and therefore know themselves better, which is a way to develop their own resources. These benefits of group work related to a task that meets the interests, motivations and concerns of adolescents, contribute to the attitude of the therapist. The attitude of listening and attention directed to the present moment, offering acceptance, encourages teenagers to get in touch with their needs and express them through what happens in the sessions, and thus produces a creative adjustment, and therefore growth. This attitude not only creates a better climate in the group, but strengthens relationships and promotes the formation of identity.

Songwriting is presented as a particularly powerful method of music therapy in identity formation because it allows young people to express themselves freely through the lyrics, and encourages group work around a theme or emerging figure common to the whole group like the experience and memories of the childhood they have just left behind, and the processes of Songwriting whith adolescents in a Secondary School 57 Exploring emotional expresion, interpersonal relationships and identity formation grieving for lost childhood. As Baker and Wigram point out (2005), the essence of the songwriting technique to facilitate the task of identity formation, is that the song can capture a person's identity, given that teenagers create the song based on their own ideas, feelings, concerns and musical preferences. Their identity is reflected not only through the lyrics and music of the song, but also in how they perform the songs.

I consider relevant in this process the therapeutic value of working on grieving for recently lost childhood and to expose hidden feelings and emotions that are not expressed normally in their environment, which favors the ability to make a good transition between childhood and adolescence.

The identity formation process involves the integration of the various parts of the person, some of which seem to contradict each other. Our identity is gradually constructed by the synthesis of the answers we give to the questions: Who am I?, What do I want and what don't I want?, What should I do and what shouldn't I do?, What can I do and what can't I do?

We give the answers during childhood in close correspondence with the messages, prohibitions, authorizations and forecasts that our parents or other important adults convey.

As they grow up, the adolescent will acquire progressively greater autonomy over the questions about their own identity (Vopel, 1995). The images of themselves built so far on the model of parental figures have to be checked, the severity of their own conscience has to be tempered, and new impulses and desires must be taken into consideration.

By paying attention to childhood itself, the adolescent rethinks their beliefs about themselves and their own image, in addition to observing the changes between this newly abandoned infant stage and new teenage state. It is a way to assimilate and build one's own identity.

What the adolescent must reach can be defined as confidence in their own ability to integrate and self-regulate. The adolescent must develop a sufficient sense of confidence so that they consent to join in a satisfactory manner heterogeneous aspects of their identity.

I hope that many more studies are carried out and that they coincide with my conclusions. In this way music therapy support programs for adolescents could be included in school curriculums, given the importance that music seems to have at this evolutionary stage and the relevant function it can have in the task of identity formation.

–  –  –

4º Year Music



(parent or guardian of the person authorized), and on behalf of

(name of authorized person) I consent that the music sessions by Ms……Nazaret Gómez Roca……(name of the teacher-music therapist), will be recorded and watched in order to supervise, evaluate and research the creative and musical group process.

Ms……Nazaret Gómez Roca……with DNI 33.335.562Y……I agree to use the data recorded preserving the most that is posible the privacy of the person, using restrictively and professionaly the videos in review, assessment, supervision and research areas.

Recordings will be protected by the following ethic code:

• It couldn´t be used the whole video/audio session but only those parts that can be valued.

• The videos will be used for internal analysis (supervision).

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