Recently I happened to be standing outside a large room where a group of teenagers were singing and making music together. They were singing the kind of song where some of them were singing one line of song lyrics while the rest were singing another line of lyrics simultaneously, and then they’d sing the chorus of the song all together. They were sounding pretty good until one half got tripped up on the lyrics, paused a few seconds, fumbled around for the right words, and caused everyone in the group to mess up. Laughter ensued for a moment until a few voices could be heard singing the correct words, and everyone joined back in to finish the song.
And that music experience brought tears to my eyes.
But why? They messed up, right? It wasn’t a good performance by most standards, and they got it all wrong. That’s what many people would have heard if they’d been standing with me out in the hall that evening.
As a music therapist, I listen differently to music. What I heard was people working together in the music to create something they all shared. There was laughter, connection, communication, and a common purpose to sing that song together. I would venture to guess that the most important part of it to them was simply the act of singing together, of doing something together. And that’s what made it beautiful to me.
So that’s what we strive to do in music therapy sessions– use music in the way that benefits us most. It’s not always about performing songs that sound pretty or could be played on the radio or in a concert hall. It is about creating something and expressing something. It is about understanding ourselves and our connections, and being part of something that’s bigger than just you and me.
If you’re curious about how music therapy might benefit you, I’m always happy to answer questions! Feel free to contact me anytime.