Category Archives: Music

Tenderness

It was not the dazzling show of virtuosity, or the lightning-speed passages which captivated my physically tired self on a Friday evening.

It was the second movement of Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto which had me feeling most moved, most emotionally engaged, and most present.

It was when I heard and saw the notes from the piano emerge – featherlight tones, their sound ringing out to reach the deepest recesses of the concert hall. They carried with them emotion, multitudes of subtlety within their frequencies. And I felt my inner world move with them, sighing with them, feeling more anchored with them than with the booming bass and dazzling melodies of the opening movement.

And I found myself thinking about how rare it has become for our world to appreciate and embrace such tenderness. Which is probably why we need music (and art) like that to remind us. To remind us of the beauty and necessity of tenderness.

What can we do to cherish more of such tenderness?

What can we do so that being soft-spoken and non-assertive are not seen as negative, weak traits, but part of a larger, beautiful and accepted self?

Perhaps, as with most changes we want to see, it’d have to begin with ourselves.

 

Article: The Role of Music in Adolescent Development

By: Miranda, D. (2013).

From: International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 18:1, 5-22.

 

This article is a literature review, which highlights how much of adolescent developmental psychology literature and research leaves out the role of music in an adolescent’s life. It concludes by stating that more research into the developmental role of music can present more insights into the psychological, social and cultural needs of the contemporary adolescent.

 

My reflection:

We know that most of the songs we seem close to our hearts are the songs we listen to from our teens to 20s. There is more research and literature about how music can help in reminiscing in elderly patients and clients, helping them make sense of the world around them in their aging years. “Use of familiar repertoire” is a staple music therapy intervention and technique in working with aged care. Most of these “familiar repertoire” are the songs that accompanied them through the tumultuous years of adolescence and young adulthood.

It would make sense, then, to study how the same songs which adolescents are identifying with as they are growing up, are being used (consciously or unconsciously)to help them cope in their psychological and emotional development. With more understanding in this area, teachers, developmental psychologists, counsellors, and therapists might then be able to better understand how to help adolescents cope with the struggles of growing up. These struggles could include: Peer pressure, identity searching and formation, emotional issues, mental health.

Example: I’ve noticed that having the same tastes in music is one of the first things which bond students together into long-lasting friendships. It could be the latest k-pop band, or just the single which became a hit 2 years ago. The moment 2 or more individuals find out they have the same tastes in music, a tentative friendship is formed, which could then be strengthened or dissolved depending on other factors. Music, then, could be used as a bonding agent within the class, especially to aid students who might not be as apt or skillful in social aspects.

During music lessons this week, I asked students what is their “current favorite song”, promising that I would try to incorporate those into our music lessons. My motive, apart from making the lessons relevant to them, is also to improve the social dynamics of the class. Through group musical activities, individuals who might have found it hard to adjust to the social environment would be given an alternative platform to engage with their classmates, and hopefully blend in better into the social fabric of the class. Being well-adjusted is one of the key factors which could prevent later problems from surfacing, such as bullying, truancy or loss of interest in academic studies.

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Am aiming to read and reflect on at least on music therapy article every week and see how I can apply / transfer the content into the music classroom.  Part of self-development and reflective practice, and to not lose touch with the therapeutic side of things!

Live Like A Nocturne

Live like a nocturne.

Simple, not pretentious.

No virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity.

Willing to be supported, not rejecting the complementing forces of harmony.

Flexible, bending and playing with time and space.

Not intrusive, yet profound in depth of emotions.

Does not speak for long, but what little a Nocturne says is able to convey all the subtle naunces of life.

Joy interspersed in sorrow. Calm brewing with drama. That sudden leap. The unexpected harmonic shift. The accidental note.

A Nocturne proclaims the power of silence, the strength of Quiet.

Just when everyone thinks a Nocturne might be easily forgotten, swept under a carpet, walked over like a doormat – the Nocturne replies. Still steady, still stable. Yet with just enough impact to make people think twice about dismissing it again. With subtle force, the Nocturne makes its imprint on the world, quietly yet significantly.

It does not need to be recognized by many, it only wishes to be with those who truly appreciate what it has to give.

Live like a Nocturne.

The Nocturne, although strongly identified with the qualities of night, also has the ability to bring those qualities to the sometimes too-harsh sunlight of day. It can soften the brashness with its gentle lyricism.

As much as the world needs glorious fanfares, magnificent symphonies, stoic marches, catchy waltzes… the world also needs Nocturnes.

Thank you, Nocturnes of the world.

In Memory Of…

Dear Keyboard,

Thank you for spending the past 2 years or so with me. Thank you for being by my side (literally) when I needed to practice for placements, arrange music, prepare for my skills tests, or when I simply felt that I had to play to release that something from the depths of my soul.

Some people might laugh at me for being attached to an inanimate object which could be easily replaced, but I truly am thankful that you were with my in this part of my life’s journey. It wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thank you. May you continue to find musical joy and meaning in your new home, which I found for you through Gumtree.

Love,

L.

Waradah Aboriginal Centre

A tour group came out of the theatre. I went in to catch the next show in 15 minutes.

 

15 Minutes later, the performers peeped out from the stage and saw… Me.

“Wow, big crowd we have today,” he quipped to his brothers.

I laughed nervously, seriously freaked out that I was the only one in the audience! Do people not come to such shows as individuals, but only in tour groups?!

 

Despite all that, I must say their level of respect and professionalism is extremely commendable. I enjoyed their  performance, and became a little more aware of the little things that make up the diverse aboriginal culture.

Vocal Improvisation

The human voice is known to be one of the most versatile, communicative, readily available and expressive instruments we have.

Ever since K became our lecturer this semester, she has been emphasizing on the power of the human voice and singing, making me realize that we should not underestimate its potential for therapeutic use and communication. In placements, E has also been a wonderful role model, applying various vocal and piano improvisational techniques for me to learn from.

This week, she said my next step would be to improvise on the piano AND vocally at the same time, which is particularly useful for communicating with clients like A.

At the moment, its like asking me to write with both hands at the same time. I would not be able to do both simultaneously, but if I hold on to one and concentrate on the other, something of compromised quality might come out.

I admitted to E that vocal expression is not my strongest area. I’ve always been happy to be in the background, to accompany instrumentalists and vocalists, to play in a group, to musically support, not lead. All these mindsets have been challenged ever since I stepped into therapy – in a good way. But vocal improvisation and expression has remained an area I still lack confidence in. E agreed, understanding as a pianist herself that we like to “hide behind the piano” (spot on). Her reply to my saying that I tend to think too much when I’m not confident touched me greatly: “I think you’re musical enough to just tune into the tonality, even if you don’t know what key it’s in… I don’t say this to everybody.”

I was reminded of what R said earlier this year about the elusive quality of musicality as well, and suddenly my mammoth was temporarily silenced. 2 professional therapists seem to imply the same thing – that I need to have more trust and confidence in my own abilities, work on projection, and apply them in a functional way. They must see something I don’t, or maybe not as clearly.

I am thankful to have wonderful supervisors to point out what I cannot see in myself, practical experiences to apply what I learn, the space to be less than perfect and improve from where I am.
This week’s practice regime will work on improvising pianistically and vocally at the same time, with as little mammoth presence as possible:)