Even the typically developing teens with whom I have worked demonstrated they’re very best through music-making play. Their up and down turbulence took a detour but stayed on a path with direction. These teens did so freely and together. When the boys were done, they felt confident and were able to recognize their own accomplishments through their play. These troubled teens were able to develop their identities in the group and individually. Simultaneously, the teen moods were regulated. Ultimately, they
I think our biggest obstacle is often our own, overtaxed, defensive minds. Music helps us to slow down, and de-clutter the fog that the critical, defensive mind creates. In working with groups of volatile teen boys, playing music as a group had a rare effect. The group music grounded members in a steady, but flexible rhythm. The process aided the individuals to be able to lower their, hyper-aroused fight response. The results were coming together, individually voicing positive attitudes through their rhythms, yet together with their peer group.
Sometimes, this focused play can happen in more individual experiences also. Teens can slow their world to an even greater degree They have the opportunity to self reflect. The process allows them to gather their emotions. These young adults pour out the emotion in a focused manner. They create their own “stories.” Creating, not in isolation, but with the presence of a trusted”other”. Music-making, creating sound can titrate some of those overpowering emotions, in a very positive, creative manner. This type of creating, borrowing from the past, but creating something new and healing, perpetuates one’s growth.
Listening to the musical expressions can often be more accurate than the narrative in which it may be presented. The opportunity to play or create with another and find and develop the individual voice can override the inner turbulence. It can allow the individual to focus and interact positively with another. Even when the emotions are not positive, the experience can be growth-orientated. The individual has the opportunity to become “unstuck” in a difficult time, as they move towards a more mature self.
Teen clients often leave feeling success and pride in their own personal accomplishments. They leave with a better, more mature, self-identity.
Antoinette Morrison, MT-BC