GROUP MUSIC THERAPY
Sam is wearing the yellow cap. Sam is a natural performer and loves drama and singing. Music therapy supports Sam’s personal development and nurtures his musical development in a well-rounded way. You would never know that Sam navigates a range of challenges associated with the stroke he suffered at birth.
THE MUSIC THERAPY TECHNIQUE OF SONGWRITING
This clip depicts the music therapy technique of songwriting. In sessions leading up to this we had used the techniques of music listening and musical games to explore the blues chord progression, scat singing, and call-and-response play. In this session Sam started reciting a verse in response to hearing the “Rockabilly” song from the drum kit’s pre-recorded library. The verse went – “Hello my name is Joe and I work in a button factory…”. Sam’s spontaneous input informed a focused and inclusive process that resulted in the group’s creation of a product they can call their own. Besides playing the music, my role was to highlight the value and potential of Sam’s spontaneous contribution and to relate it to the learning of our previous sessions. I also suggested that we could reference everyone’s name in the song, and they could choose to say what they do.
By reflecting on this process with his peers and his family Sam becomes more aware of the importance of peer support and the positive impact he can have on other people. Sam also learns to trust the potential of his creative drive, which will guide him to be and become all he can be.
OTHER SONGWRITING APPLICATIONS
I have used songwriting with all populations. Other examples of songwriting include the creation of purposeful songs, song collages, and parodies. Purposeful song refers to songs I have written to meet a specific need. For example, I have written a range of “Hello” and “Goodbye” songs. For some clients it is important that sessions have a clear structure. These songs quickly become familiar and relieve anxiety. Also, as you saw in Sam’s clip, they support turn-taking and participation. Song collages involve working with clients to explore the elements in their preferred music that they like the most, and then applying these to their own song creation. For parodies the client creates their own lyrics to go with a familiar melody.
MUSIC THERAPY AND AUTISM
Ryan loves communicating through shared musical play, which is wonderful because Ryan has autism and this profoundly limits his capacity to engage in typical exchanges of communication.
THE MUSIC THERAPY TECHNIQUE OF IMPROVISATION
This clip of Ryan depicts the music therapy technique of improvisation. Ryan had been attending music therapy for 18 months before the electric drum kit was introduced into his sessions. We could tell Ryan was immediately interested in the kit because he would stand close to it and sometimes touch it before walking away. It wasn’t until Ryan’s third session with the kit in the room that he initiated sitting on the stool in readiness to play. Robyn, Ryan’s mother, started recording because she was so thrilled to see him sitting up like a drummer, but as the clip reveals Ryan wanted to do so much more.
I am playing the keyboard in the background. I have set the keyboard voicing to steel drums to match the drum kit’s voicing, and I am using empathetic improvisation techniques to meet Ryan in the musical space, and extend and deepen his engagement with the play.
THE PURPOSE AND PROCESS
Through this process Ryan comes to know I am present, I want to share, and I love what he can do. Ryan discovers the joy and reward of reaching out to new experiences. Ryan learns something more about what he is capable of, and so do his communication partners. These types of experiences happen often in Ryan’s music therapy. Ryan has been attending music therapy for two years on a fortnightly basis. His sessions are one hour long and Ryan directs the course of each session by using the various visual supports in the room.
Robyn uses Ryan’s respite funding from St Carthage’s Community Care to pay for his sessions. I have many clients of all ages living with a range of disabilities that access my service through the Helping Children With Autism (HCWA) Scheme, Lifestyle Solutions (Aust), and Red Inc.
This clip displays hospital‐based music therapy for a group of people experiencing a similar health challenge. Specific details about the process and outcomes of the Amputee Songwriting Support Group are explained in captions within the clip.
POPULATIONS & INDIVIDUALISED CARE
Registered Music Therapists (RMTs) are trained to work with people of all ages and ranges of ability. The creative nature of music therapy enables clients’
needs to be addressed in response to their interests, contributions, and strengths. The process is highly individualised and, in turn, meaningful and motivating for the client.
CONTEXTS & SETTINGS
Liz has experience working with all populations across a range of settings, such as in her private clinic, in clients’ homes, and in hospitals and schools. Sessions can occur as individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and adjunctive therapy.
People have accessed Liz’s service through financial support from a range of local and national community support organisations/schemes such as: Lifestyle Solutions (Aust.), St Carthage’s Community Care, Red Inc., On Track, Northcott, Early Childhood facilities, and the Helping Children With Autism Scheme (HCWA).