Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Singin', Why I Got the Blues
There will be a point when you realize that you cannot plan every detail in a music therapy session. When you know you've considered every possible interaction between you and your client, you will be proved wrong.
I have no doubt that this is why music therapists often find songwriting sessions so intimidating. You are actually allowing and encouraging your clients to surprise you. For a new therapist, this is surely cause for stress. But I think you'll find, as I've heard from MT professionals, that song writing is not something to fear. It can be such a powerful tool in your clients' progress.
The activity I am posting today is a fill-in-the-blank songwriting activity. Fill-in-the-blank songs are a smart way to lead a session for several reasons. First, a client will often be much more intimidated by a song writing activity than you are, believe it or not. Giving them a simple sentence to complete is much less overwhelming than handing them a blank sheet of paper and telling them, "Write a song." Second, you will set yourself up for success by having half the song already written on paper. Also important in unstable populations is maintaining focus. Giving them free reign with a blank sheet of paper can be inviting a world of trouble into your session. As you will see in the following song sheet, I have put my clients on track with an appropriate sentence-starter. By starting a line with "I take my mind off the blues by...", I have gotten them started thinking about coping skills.
Use this song sheet to prepare a successful song writing session. It uses a blues chord progression, as you'll see by the roman numerals I've included. Choose a key and decide your own melody. I got the idea for writing about the "blues" from a practicum at the hospital. It will probably prove useful with a variety of populations: clients in hospital, hospice, psychiatric hospital, eating disorder clinic, etc.
And please, don't avoid the most empowering part of a music therapy session. Offer your clients a chance to share their song by playing it yourself. You can do it, you've prepared for this!