Therapy Through Song-Writing
As music varies around the world so does a cultures use of the songs and lyrics created. Songwriters may quickly scribble words down on a piece of paper or have a melody running in their head, with the anticipation that those sounds and words will turn into lyrics for a song. A song or melody may spark both positive and negative feelings in each person’s life, especially by the author. Music is used for countless activities (ceremonies, celebrations), therefore the ideas discussed in this paper focus on whether the song writing process acts as a therapy outlet. Accordingly, the goal is to examine one musician’s ideas about song writing and review literature on how song writing is currently used in music therapy.
Musicians have claimed song writing is their therapy. By it’s very nature, the process of song writing can be both freeing and emotionally challenging on a writer. Song “text often provides an early experience of how to symbolically represent the world, and of how we can use metaphors to understand the meaning of what is happening to us” (Baker et al. 9). Lyrics articulate the values and beliefs of people, which weave their way into the lives of others. In the midst of song writing, an important phenomenon is taking place: the writer is communicating and sharing their thoughts in an intimate way, much like how psychological counseling is seen and used today.
To understand a musician’s work, one might need to understand their personal journey. While delving into the effects of musical therapy, I had a chance to interview Matt Jennings a songwriter/musician who plays piano in a worship band at Bear Creek Community Church in Merced, California. On Saturday, February 19, I sat down with Matt to find out about his song writing and musical journey. Matt was first drawn to music at home where his dad and younger sister use to play full renditions of “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano and he always thought it sounded glorious. Years later he began to play the piano with no formal training. “One day, I sort of fumbled my way through a one-fingered, single note rendition of a melody from one of my favorite songs, “Visions of a Sunset” by Shawn Stockman. This led me trying to do the same for various songs I liked at the time. Eventually, the one-note approach came to be complemented by single, whole-note bass notes with my left hand. I had always loved writing poems and lyrical phrases, but had never put them to music. Over the course of several months, I began to secretly create songs on my own. Though they had absolutely no musical complexity, I could imagine and hear the accompaniment of percussion, strings, bass, and counter melodies in my head.” Songs really began to take shape for him during his post-adolescent desperation of a broken heart where he put his feelings to words and – eventually – to piano music.
His performances outside of church are usually with a piano and nothing else. He enjoys the simplicity...