Monday, October 24, 2005

Music & the Person Centred Approach

A bit of a tangent this - but hopefully a productive one.

I am particularly interested in the role/place/potential of music in the field of human relationships and communication. More specifically than that, I am particularly interested in the interface between music and mental health and, zooming in even further, in music as it relates to (and in some cases expresses aspects of) the person centred approach.

Those of us fortunate members of the hearing community all have powerful personal experiences of music but it is rarely considered in the same conceptual framework as, for example, mental health, or therapeutic work. I neither aspire nor expect to change any of that.

I do, however, have a few little 'projects' on the go that you may have an interest in and may be able to contribute to. They range from the serious to the less-so and can be summarised as follows:

1. Working towards a PCA Playlist
There is a part of me that can still enjoy music with a lyrical content that is a zillion miles from who I am or want to be - if the beat is good enough (the odd guitar solo tends to disengage certain critical parts of my brain too). But the 'striving for consistency through a way of being' me likes the idea of surrounding myself with music which is consistent with the person centred approach. I have done some impromptu dj-ing at pca events in the past and enjoyed the challenge of finding material that is 'sympatico' with the approach and would like to identify more.

If you know of - or come to hear - any music which you feel conveys either the letter or the spirit of the approach in some way, please let me know. I will track it down (I'm ruthless) and make it accessible through the blog or by some other means (maybe compile a cd or something). I don't know yet.

I'm also interested to hear about any songs which make specific reference to counselling and psychotherapy - so send in your suggestions on that score too.

2. Music in the working environment
If anyone has any thoughts about, knows of, or comes across any information (research, practice examples etc) which relates to the 'use' of music in work settings, I would be grateful to hear about it. Again, and in particular, anything to do with the (psycho)therapeutic use of music - whether as part of the 'wallpaper' of e.g. day centres, drop-ins, reception areas, or whether as a tool or medium in client work - i would be grateful to hear from you.

3. Creative projects
I am interested in the idea of getting the person centred approach across to others through the medium of music. In particular, I have the 'crazy' idea of doing hip-hop/rap style 'versions' of actual dialogue from therapeutic settings (and have a colleague working in his cellar on a project called "THOPERAY - The Therapeutic Opera!). Any suggestions as to sources of suitable dialogue for consideration in the context of these projects - please get in touch.

4. MP3 revolution
I am a johnny-come-lately when it comes to all this music on the internet malarkey BUT I have been a very fast learner. I would be happy to discuss with anyone their mp3 needs with a view to meeting them through file sharing (whether music or software) - the aim is to raise a bit of petty cash for PCAyorks. Any requests please get in touch.

5. Biographical note
There is an interesting inter-generational parallel thing going on for me in all this. My father (Derek Colley) was a basic skills educator in the prison service (remedial ed, I think they called it) who made a bit of a name for himself through his use of music both as a way of building relationships in and engineering the environment of the classroom setting and finding, as he might term it, the 'key' to unlock the potential of the lads on his classes. Music, he found, could reach the parts of individuals with whom communication was most difficult. It worked on a number of levels (literacy classes used song lyrics as material, to give a banal example).

When I think about his work, it puts me in mind of that 'soothing the savage beast' (or is it 'breast'?). Anyhow, with the emphasis on savage. He was, for the most part, working with young people who were pretty scary. And getting unfeasibly good results in terms of 'distance travelled' - by any measures you might care to apply. Perhaps it was all about his own passion for music. It is a passion I share.

Struck a chord?
Any other miscellaneous responses to this particular thread would be of considerable interest to me (and hopefully some of the rest of us). Do feel free to post or comment on the blog or email (please indicate if you wish your message to be circulated or not).

Paul Colley

No comments: