That Bittersweet Feeling

About 9 months ago, we met in the performance room for the first time. 9 first years and 11 second years. Our lecturer paired us up and gave each pair a drum. Each pair took turns to improvise with each other on the drum while the rest observed.

“What can you learn about the other person through their drumming?” 

It was a very interesting first meeting, very interesting first activity, with very interesting responses.

Just through rhythmic improvisation, you could tell who are the accommodating ones, the diplomatic ones, the natural leaders, the fluent followers, the ones who enjoy a good long conversation, taking their time to know the other, and who are those who prefer to jump into the heat of action immediately and not waste time with the frilly stuff.

Beneath all our differences – gender, age, culture, country,  we were connected through music and the desire to use it for a greater good.

Fast forward 9 months, and since then we’ve had the chance to do practical placements together, stress through assignments together, sit through hours of each others’ presentations and talks. This week was the last week of our tutorial together, and just like that, the second years have graduated. Some will be looking out for jobs here, some are going home, some are going to travel around some more before they decide what to do (envy!). As we hugged our goodbyes, took our selfies, made our promises to keep in touch (at least on FB), I could not help but feel a sort of bittersweetness within me. Come next semester, we will be the second years, and come next spring, we will be the ones graduating. It feels like just a few days ago when I was preparing myself mentally, physically and emotionally for this journey – and suddenly I find myself halfway through it already.

Oh time, you sneaky little thief. Where have you gone and what have you done?

A Blank Canvas

When the client comes into the session, the space is akin to a blank canvas. The client may offer a few scribbles here and there – a tap on an instrument, the humming of a few notes, hints of communication and expression. Subtle gestures. A word from their limited vocabulary.

The therapist uses these as keys into their world, to facilitate pathways into understanding, interaction, and ultimately, personal well-being. Kinda like how this artist turned her 2-year-old’s scribbles into beautiful works of art.

There are clients for whom we can plan the most structured of sessions and they’d follow through to the smallest detail. But clients like M and A have really been testing me in terms of responding to them on a moment-to-moment basis, improvising and creating suitable musical environments for effective facilitation. They provide only the subtlest of hints, light scribbles on our shared musical canvas. And again, the Sup has been encouraging me to use my intuition when necessary, saying that it will help me decide what to do in moments when the intellect fails to keep up.

I’ve read that meditation, the tuning into our inner self, can help to develop this intuition, this sharpness and clarity of thought in that moment of absolute present-ness and mindfulness. Something I’ve started doing before I sleep every night.

Striving onward!

Everything in its Time

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