Written by Nicola Haywood
Where Are We Going Now?
Work. I guess that’s where we are all headed as we wrap up our studies and head off into the wide world.
And yes, it’s a health hazard, it’s a pain and it creates serious obstacles to our fun times. But, as it allows us to buy stuff and forces us up and out of the house, it and keeps the world as we know it turning.
So, I thought I’d share a little about what I do for my bit of the proverbial crust and share how my studies are helping me in my endeavors to be a better (wo)man on the job.
Hi! I’m Nicola and though I’m not a Music Therapist or Psychologist, I work in an area which uses song writing to help bridge the communication and self expression gaps people who have disengaged from the community present with.
I have made a lot of mistakes during the 19 months I’ve been doing this, and I would not have survived at all without the back up of my communication and sociology studies! Not only have they increased my knowledge of the hows and whys of communication breakdowns and barriers, but having an academic background to fall back on is like having an invisible god to catch you when you fall. Trust me!
Our program works through a simple, yet structured model of song writing:
- Verse 1 – topic – what it is –what the problem is
- Chorus – the hook/catchy part/how you feel about this
- Verse 2 – how others feel/how this affects you
- Bridge – what you will do about this now/how you feel about this topic now.
Throughout the sessions (between 6-10 weeks long) we spend time talking about the message of the song – using examples of popular songs and the audience these songs are targeting.
This is one of the parts that can get messy as the many of the group are wary about sharing their opinions. I share something about my life during this part and relate it to the way we communicate or miscommunicate.
As rewarding as this work sounds, it is often quite challenging and draining, trying to work within a system that seeks to fit disengaged people into the very system they disengaged from can often translate into pretty much a catch 22 situation.
…Which brings me to the poor musicians who work alongside me…in 19 months I have managed to work my way through seven of them! This isn’t a music therapy program and using song writing this way to broaden perspectives and increase confidence is a fairly new concept which I sometimes struggle with, let alone the musicians who work with me. They are used to writing their songs alone and don’t always feel comfortable writing and talking about their songs in such an exposed way. It doesn’t help that I don’t always explain the structure of the sessions clearly either. Luke of the Central Deli Band/WaterSlides/Solo project is valiantly trying to save himself from the barrage of my constant stream of communiqué, while posing the question, “Hmmm, could Nicola be any more insane or irritating?”
And the sad answer often is, yes I can be and the odds that I will be are also very high…
Now, I am quite fast on my feet when it comes to talking and my tenaciousness and thick skin is often a boon in some areas of my job. However, the down side of this is I am sometimes unable to keep my big mouth shut when possibly I should. And my love of the word and my need to be continually understood, ( blame the American in me!) means I am like a dog with a well gnawed bone when it comes to getting my message across. I will not stop until I KNOW it has been received, heard and processed exactly as I meant it to be.
And normal people generally think one should wait more than ten minutes without hitting them for a reply. Not me though! I don’t understand this because I thought technology was supposed to make everything a lot more instant. If I wanted to wait a week for a reply, I would have sent the feathered pigeon, not the technological tweet!
Translation – more frustration on my part, which means more communiqué for Luke! (I’m sorry, Luke!)
I do enjoy the work though, and am lucky to have had the privilege to work with the musicians that I have – particularly David and Luke, who not only are incredible musicians and funny, friendly people, but have put up with the most from me!