Music is unique among all the arts in that it most closely approaches "pure" expression. Music is non-representational. Drawing, writing, drama and even dance are representational art forms -- the art is "about" something. Music just is.
Every culture has music, and we are musical before we are born. We hear the rhythmic beat of mother's heart in the womb. Music has the power to reach the pre-verbal primitive parts of ourselves. It soothes and excites.
Music enhances words through songs and raps. It allows us to express emotion in ways unavailable to words by themselves.
Making music in a group -- especially drumming -- is a great way to create safety and cohesion, to communicate and commune with others. Discussing lyrics of popular songs is a great metaphorical tool. Writing songs is a way to both express and contain powerful feelings.
The use of music need not be "musical" -- raw sound and noise also have their power and their place.
In terms of the four dimensions, music tends toward aesthetic closeness -- music is immediate. Music is also embodied -- whether we are listening to music or making music, we feel it in our bones, in our guts, in our moving butts. Music is the ultimate in metaphor -- it is completely non-literal, and carries any image you care to project onto it. And music can be holding, probing or both, depending on how it's used.
Here are a few things to do with music in a therapeutic context:
- Song & lyric analysis -- the client brings in a recording of a song & printouts of the lyrics; we discuss the meaning of the song, its relevance to the client's life, how we might change the lyrics to make it truer for us
- Song writing -- songs can be written either with existing music (karaoke gear is great for this) or to newly created music
- Musical "check-in" -- make a noise with an instrument to briefly express how you feel in the moment
- Conducted improvisation -- one person leads the group in musical improvisation, guiding players through gestures
- Improvised rap -- client improvises rap, possibly with others in group playing percussion instruments or "beat-boxing" vocally; verses can be improvised by different members of a group
- Dancing to music
- Relaxing to music
Photo (c) 2008 Svetlana Kreimer