To”Play” Music: A Literal Phrase

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The best part about play is that there is no right or wrong way. Sometimes aid or assistance try to help by saying things like, “You were supposed to…”, but play is devoid of perfection. This means anyone can do it and it is all okay.

This week, as the group of musically untrained emotionally unstable boys joined in the pulse with the instrument of their choice, each got a chance to be the “arranger.” This meant that when it was his turn, he could distribute and organize the instrumentation to whomever and however they wished. When the tune began, the kids were just allowed to play. Organization of guitar strums, voice, and drumming did not take long. All those stubborn boys claimed, as usual, “This is stupid.” Full participation took only moments. When it was apparent that whatever each individual gave was okay, organization and softened attitude quickly appeared. As the first boy was selected as arranger, I heard several voices asking for the same thing. I began to wonder if I should have organized this differently. Amazingly, the group, one that usually enjoys purposefully getting under each other’s skin, did their best to accommodate the wishes of their peers. They asked one another for their opinions, and interacted with respect and hope. All played together. Most everyone sang along, some danced, but most of all, they united for approximately 20 consecutive minutes of play. Some structure was provided, but in the absence of judgement. I was pleasantly surprised and my unsaid thoughts concerning the pulse and lack of judgement bringing everyone together were confirmed. (In this group, rules for behavior must be sustained.) Staff had said when they were done that this is the longest they have done anything together all year. Sometimes, when we don’t have to think so hard about what we are supposed to do, what we are supposed to do naturally and pleasantly evolves into a skill we never knew we had.

To “play” music; a more literal phrase than we realized.

Antoinette Morrison, MT-BC

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