Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Music??? part 13 How Live Music Facilitates Learning From Others

How Live Music Facilitates Learning From Others

Thanks for visiting topics and conversations. Here I want to address music therapy issues and concepts as they relate to education, health and wellness.

This is part thirteen of my blog posts where I describe music therapy interactions I've had that are indicative of why music is so healing, meaningful, enriching and sometimes life changing!

This post describes music therapy sessions with clients on our hospice service where I end up learning tried and tested music techniques from them. Techniques I employ to this day and will always use.

The first of my two scenarios involves a life long professional piano player. Howard, played since he was young and spent all of his adult working years as a full time piano player. To describe an impressive aspect of his work, imagine the most elegant, high priced restaurant in your town, with a grand piano. Howard was the piano player, 3-5 nights per week for 40 plus years! Also Howard taught piano extensively and played in the top jazz orchestras in the area. He also sang. Obviously he was very talented. I say “was” because he passed recently and I had the opportunity to engage him in music therapy sessions as his health declined. Early on Howard would play an electric piano he had in his home. Together we would play jazz standards, many by Duke Ellington. It was here when I had to stop him and say...”what did you play there?” He would show me. Howard, from playing so long and with so many great musicians over the years, would play certain “turn arounds” and cadences in his own stylistic ways, chords that were not part of the original music. I immediately wrote the chords and techniques on my music. To this day I use those cadences and techniques in my own playing and of course I think of Howard. I feel like I had met a guru or master. Wow, how fortunate.

The second scenario involved me having sessions with another talented man named Bob. My first information about Bob stated that he played guitar and had a guitar in his room. Bob was very sick the first time we met, his family was present also. Even though he couldn't really have his eyes open he sang many gospel and church hymns with me that first visit. Looking around his room I saw many framed poems on the wall. They were not eight or sixteen line little ditties. These poems had so many stanzas that the smallest font was used. Bob wrote them. Not only did he write them the family said he can recite them. I said what?? So he recited one. Beautiful, thoughtful poems. The one I heard was from his experience in WWII. And he also painted (art) pictures, some of which were in his room. At this point we hadn't really gotten to his music experience. On his dresser there was a very old picture of what looked like a small orchestra. He said the picture was him as a youngster with his family's dance band. The band included his mother and Bob played drums. For a few months I would visit Bob for music therapy. Our routine was he would sit in his comfortable chair, with his eyes mostly closed and we would sing old church hymns and country songs. There are a few songs that we did regularly where he sang them with an authentic country style that I never really could get the “hang of” myself. Singing them with Bob taught me. As with Howard, when I sing them the way Bob did, I think of him every time. I consider that a gift.

These kind of experiences are so precious. Again, I never would have learned the music techniques and stylistic treatments of those songs if it hadn't been for my learning from both of them. Beautiful and thank you gentlemen!!!

So, "Why (live) music??"... To be in the privileged position to learn from others, i.e., music techniques and tips that enhance the music therapist's musicianship. Learning “life lessons” from patients and their families is a whole other topic for another day.

And don't forget about guitar CMTE courses from The Creative Clinician and Video Guitar Lessons for Music Therapy Students (and others of course).

As a reminder my second music album, i.e., Modern Music Learning For The School Aged Child will be out very soon. This is music for child development, autism and special needs.

In upcoming posts I will continue with other music therapy and musicianship related blog posts.

My prescription this week??? Grab your guitar, learn a song in a new genre for you and don't forget, The Creative Clinician and are here for support.