ARTICLE BY ANDRES SANCHEZ – ANDRELO | 30 JANUARY 2024
to bring your rhythm closer
A few weeks ago, a friend told me that her 16-year-old son wanted to stop studying, wanted to go into music, and that she didn’t know how to try to convince him that, although she supports his dreams, she believed he should at least finish compulsory education in order to have a more secure future.
I couldn’t help but empathise with this young man and think about how boring not only my high school education but also my university career had been for me. I have never been a lazy person, but I have to admit that until well into my 30s, when I started and finished my Master’s in Music Therapy, I never had a strong interest in what I was studying, I never felt passion except in 3 or 4 subjects. Even though they might interest me, I never got involved.
I did compulsory secondary education and then went on to what in Spain they call the ‘humanities baccalaureate’. My dream was to be a journalist. The classes BORED me to death, I did it ‘by inertia’, I was completing academic steps, I dropped the theory in the exams and forgot it. While, in the street, I absorbed with passion and addiction things like theatre, performance, puppets. There were two very different attitudes when faced with something that interested me and something that did not.
In other words, I was not lazy, I was not apathetic, I was someone who had not had something to be passionate about in front of him during his educational path. When I started the Master in Music Therapy, at the age of 36, I literally cried in every seminar, I felt every pore of my body move during the classes. They could be ‘boring’ classes with huge lists of psychological theories or they could be ‘lively’ classes where we spent hours improvising. But I LOVED being there, I became a sponge. Despite my limitations in music or psychology training, I gave my 150% in every seminar, I did all the assignments and exams with the utmost effort, trying to make sure that what I learned would stay with me forever.
THE PASSION FOR WHAT YOU ARE TAUGHT
What is the main difference between my young student years and my more mature years? The passion for what you are taught. And, I think, also the way it is taught. They teach us that we must respect the culture of effort, but they hide from us that this effort is often far from our interests. We have to work hard to learn general things without paying attention to our abilities and personal characteristics. They tell us that teaching is forcing us to learn, but teaching is approaching the pace of the person in front of you, adapting to them, and not forcing them to adapt to a system that is not designed to respect differences.
Listening to the person is one of the keys during a music therapy session. When you are in front of someone to be helped through music, you are open to listening, to empathy. Obviously, you have a list of resources to work with, you also have a series of objectives, but the progress is made by the patient, by the one who is the focus during the sessions. Improvising is a fundamental part of this science, as is the fact that in order to improvise you have to be situated on a conceptual and knowledge map that we are walking on. The change is that we don’t force the person to walk where they don’t want to walk, but we use the coordinates we have to approach the person’s walk.
ROLES AND ATTITUDES
Carl Rogers, in his work ‘The Process of Becoming a Person'(1), talked about the role of the therapist and the three main attitudes he should have in a process of change and learning between two people:
- Congruence: This attitude implies accepting the person as he/she is, with his/her feelings and experiences. It is a total acceptance of the person and their behaviour, which generates a climate of security and learning.
- Empathy: Attending to the needs and rhythms of the person in front of you. Listening unconditionally.
- Respect: Respect what it is. Respect what it brings. Respect what he is interested in. Empower what he/she wants to learn. Enhance their capabilities.
While these three attitudes apply to what he calls ‘therapists’, I want to transfer all these concepts to our role as facilitators in non-formal education processes and youth work. Because we often have to work with young people who are not very clear about where they are going. To whom we have to listen and pay enough attention to enhance their capacities and raise their interest in what we want them to learn. Where we have to accept the person as they are, with their lights and shadows. This brings us closer to Rogers’ humanistic stance, to his person-centred therapy.
PROVIDING MEANS OF SELF EXPRESSION
Continuing with more music therapy theory that can be applied to non-formal education, I would like to address some of the objectives that Kenneth Bruscia, in his book ‘Defining Music Therapy’ (2), defined for music therapy sessions where the focus is on listening to the ‘patient’ (in our case, the participant). For he speaks of such interesting and powerful things as providing a satisfying means of self-expression and identity formation; exploring various aspects of the self in relation to others; identifying, expressing and working through difficult emotions; developing the capacity for personal respect and intimacy; developing interpersonal or group skills; developing creativity, expressive freedom, spontaneity and playfulness within varying degrees of structure; and developing and stimulating the senses and perceptual and cognitive skills.
Don’t you think these objectives are suitable for non-formal education sessions? Wouldn’t it even be wonderful to apply them in formal and regulated education? Isn’t it imperative to start listening to the people we are trying to educate? To take into account their beliefs, dreams, desires, ways of being or interests in order to adapt them to the educational objectives we propose? Isn’t education one of the most powerful weapons for sowing the future?
The last point I want to address in this article is that of creativity. In non-formal education and youth work, the use of creative, cultural or artistic tools to achieve training or educational objectives is becoming increasingly important.
In our organisation ‘Sleeping Cells’ we work on non-formal education from a creative perspective, we believe that creation is an intrinsic part of every human being and that to develop creation is to develop, per se, the person, their mythology, their way of being and seeing the world.
Wittgenstein(3) wrote that “the limits of my language are the limits of my world”. Fiorini (4) pointed out that “artistic creation is conceived as a path of openness, search and transformation”, he established a relationship between what is given, what we know, what we take for granted, and what is impossible, what is created from what is given, what we find when we leave behind what is established.
Do we leave behind the old ways of educating without listening to who we seek to educate? Do we learn to learn? Do we exercise silence to glimpse and listen to who we seek to educate?
I bet we must. I firmly believe that we should approach them, not to apply to them the rhythms that we create, but to approach their rhythm, to bring their rhythm closer. How about you?
(1) Rogers, C. (2011). El proceso de convertirse en persona. Barcelona: Paidós Ibérica.
(2) Bruscia, K (2014). Defining Music Therapy (3ª ed.) Dallas: Barcelona Publishers.
(3) Fiorini, H. (2007). El psiquismo creador: teoría y clínica de procesos terciarios. AgrupArte Producciones
(4) Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Basil Blackford
ANDRES SANCHEZ Andrelo is a music therapist, cultural agitator and accelerator of cultural particles. In his poetic work, he has toured venues and festivals with his perfopoetry show Poesía UZI: Homenaje a Oyetu Miramipito, moved souls with his improvisation show Poesía automágica and conquered the skies with Astroesía, his show of rhymes and stars together with Carlos González, from Astronomía Cercana. Animal escénico. He is also a member of DESATADO, selected in the Artistic Residencies of La Laboral Centro de Arte de Xixón. A spoken word, poetry and electronic project, together with EzParx, both from the MidSide Noise Collective, and whose album Hilo will be released in 2024. His last published book was Mergulhar: poesía decantada en agua de mar, published by the Portuguese ColectivoBU (Porto). Director and creator of the VERSO spoken word festival in Segovia. Artivist in the D.E.M.O. project of European Alternatives. His universe: @pipasdecoco |
Isn’t it imperative to start listening to the people we are trying to educate? To take into account their beliefs, dreams, desires, ways of being or interests in order to adapt them to the educational objectives we propose? Isn’t education one of the most powerful weapons for sowing the future?
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