Last week, after writing my blog, I asked my son to edit it before he left for school. He said, “Sure, but would you get my guitar first?” I thought he was going to take it to school, so I asked if he needed his case. He replied, “No, I need it so I don’t freak out.” Now, those of you who have read my blog through LinkedIn and have seen my recent typing mistakes can sympathize with him. Now as chief cook and dish washer here, I have difficulty sympathizing, but freely admit to the difficulty. However, he reminded me of my other topic on my mind.
Both of my sons, commuters at a local private college, came home at separate times this past week expressing their interest and enjoyment at the music their band is writing. The two boys, both of whom are full-time college students with jobs, spend much of their time unwinding in the band with their peers. Lately, I have been pleased on our frequent snow days by the hours of my driven daughter playing the piano in my studio.
Last year, I received a new client, a little boy with a speech delay. In one year’s time, the speech was greatly developed in Music Therapy as his delay was upgraded to a spectrum diagnosis. At this point, he has more than speech, and at times, his speech is advanced even for his age. However, he often gets stuck in his back and forth engagement. He resorts to repeated quotes from the screen or books, to accompany his play. Facilitating more back and forth exchanges while trying to avoid the repeated quote has been more difficult than the gains in speech, but when we break through these repeated quotes into further back and forth exchanges, spontaneous melodies flow forth with nonsense syllables “na na na”. They are creative, happy, and non-repetitive. It appears the language we worked to get has to shut down momentarily in order to find an open, free, place to continue growth.
This morning, I had to remind my drummer to “let go and play.” My youth choir, whom I have had since they were young elementary children, sang this morning. As my son was getting ready to move on from being my drummer, I brought up a talented but inexperienced drummer to replace him. One day, I played a song in 5/4. The tune went well. When we were done, the drummer asked me the time signature. When I told him, he said, “I can’t do 5/4, I haven’t learned it yet.” To which I promptly told him that he just had. Last week, we pulled the tune out again after a long hibernation. The same drummer, with just as much talent and more experience, goofed a couple of times. This morning, I reminded him of the earlier days and said to him, “Don’t think so much. Just play, use your talent.” We played the song without a glitch.
There is always the story of the little autistic boy who did not make a sound. When I had finally figured out to clear the room of all academic materials, there was no more to attend to but the music and myself. At the point where he let go, and danced to the music, he also began the most gentle, sweet, thoughtful sounds I had ever heard.
I have often written about what music facilitates in, aids us with, supports us in, and pulls us along. However, sometimes the work we do to further ourselves in life in this busy, multitasking, stressful world can overload us, stress us out, and deplete us of our motivation, energy, creativity, or even choke our efforts. Sometimes, we just need to quiet the thinking a bit, and just play.
Music becomes healing for us when it helps us to let go, open up, and allow space . “Playing music” is not a coincidental phrase, but a healthy one.
Antoinette Morrison MT-BC