In music, I listen.
In music, I listen to what I feel.
In music, I listen to what I take risks for.
In music, I listen to the others who take care of me with their music.
I immerse myself to what I may not know.
And then come back from the place where I went by myself
to the place I feel at home
In music, I am listening to my own home.
This is a poem I created after an improvisational music therapy group session held at the New York University in 2000. I was a doctoral student then and was one of the members in the group. There was such a powerful moment happened to me in the group process at that time, which I still recall with a strong sensation. It was a very significant and deep experience of inter-personal and intra-personal resonance. And since then, it has grounded in me and I have been wondering how I could use this experience for my own clinical practice as well as in my teaching.
Several months ago, my supervisee gave me some feedback on our improvisational music making process. She wrote many questions such as "Oh, What was that?", "Where have I been?" but later she tried to answer these questions to herself as : " it felt like I had warped in time and space", "that was so powerful but at the same time it was very scary ", "it struck me, very deep, somewhere in the core of my body" , "the most powerful moment was when our voice and the music started to vibrate in my tummy, and then went to the chest and into my head and there it goes out to somewhere above. It was something invisible twirling between us!!".
This comment has reminded me of my own experience of resonance illustrated in the poem above.
I have been involved in music therapy education and training for almost 15 years both in the US and Japan. Over last 8 years, I have been exploring the possibility of "Experiential Training" in music therapy in Japan both at the university as well as in my own private practice. The students need to learn so many things to be fully equipped to become a competent music therapist. They study theories and their implications which empower their musical/clinical techniques and interventions. They are trained to be musically clinical as well as clinically musical.
However, as we all know as music therapists, there are therapeutic aspects which you can only learn from the actual experiences. One of which I would like to discuss in this column is "how to resonate within yourself and with others" in co-music activity. The action "to resonate" can be accomplished in a form of sound creation and music making. And this clinical technique, per se, is one of the idiosyncratic features of music therapy intervention. When contemplating on this subject, I started reflecting two important actions which I feel are important for the students to be nurtured, so that they become able "to resonate". They are 1)Listening and 2)Trusting intuition...
The voice is not only indicative of man's character, but it is the expression of his spirit. The voice is not only audible, but also visible to those who can see it.
You do not need to see the person, just his voice will tell you where he is, how far he has evolved. (Khan, 1996)
Listening is the primary part of our work as music therapists, however the students tend to find it rather hard, as they are too much involved with "what to play" on the cognitive level. Smith (1948) describes about our listening ears as the physical ear and the mental ear.
I also think there is a visual ear or visual listening that we do in the music when we improvise. We listen to our clients and at the same time we are listening within ourselves. This leads me to quote Amir's (1995) statement of internal listening:
Internal listening is tuning into one's own inner sounds and rhythms. It is the listening to inner messages that come from within the self, messages that contain harmonious as well as disharmonious chords, consonances and dissonances. It is " to be with" oneself, to fully experience oneself on various levels. In order to do this kind of listening one has to be still, to let the mind rest and stay passive in order to activate deeper states of being. In this way one gains an intuitive knowledge about one's own being. This kind of knowledge comes only the person is open to hear it. (p. 53-54)
...Listening occurs when the "being" is the "doing." This allows for a new inner state of being to be created in both therapist and client: a state of being which is still but moving at the same time, relaxed yet stimulated, passive but active. (p.55)
I am also inspired by McMaster's essay (1995) saying that the listening involves "a willingness to be profoundly surprised. (p.73)"
As a clinician, we need to be ready and confident to be surprised by the unknown which is brought by our clients. And very often, the unknown part also comes from within ourselves, so that this inner listening is very significant to be explored by the students when intra- and inter-personal resonance is to be implemented in the clinical setting.
I would define an intuition as "sixth sense, unlearned antenna ability". For me, intuition is already in my body since I was born. Maritain (1955) says that it is the Soul's power through which the various operations of life are performed. I also describe an intuition as an igniter for setting the fire. It is the switch that clicks in my mind. And once it takes the form of fire, something goes out of intuition and my will becomes the action. In the case of music therapy setting, the fire is the music. I also refer my intuition as "vibes" or "aura" or "sensation", as I am very physical in sensing others' emotion and feelings.
The below is an extract of a poem written by Brescia ((2004) in her research of intuition experienced and used by music therapists.
I am an intuitive therapist
I can harness my intuition into something clinically potent.
I listen, I feel, I trust, I question, I trust, I leap, I know
Intuition is in my body, my head, my heart, my hands,
My gut, my senses, my ears, the music
Intuition is a voice, I hear, I listen, I trust.
Intuition is creative.
Creativity sparks my intuition
I am an intuitive therapist.
"Trust your intuition" is a phrase I keep telling my students especially when they go out to the field for their internship where they have their own clients to be in charge of. But how can they learn to trust their intuition and make an effective use of it?? In my opinion, inborn intuition can be nurtured, developed and polished by experience, self-trust and self-integration to some extent. Yukawa (1968), the Nobel Prize winner scientist, says "How can man ever discover? We ask questions addressed to nature and succeed in receiving answers directly from nature". Once you are aware of your own intuition, there starts the journey to cultivate it. Constant questioning and listening to the self in the genuine and honest manner would help in order to integrate one's sensitivity. Maritain (1955) says that creative intuition is the preconscious intellectual activity on which the birth of ideas depends. He states "what matters to us is the fact that there exists a common root of all the powers of the soul, which is hidden in the spiritual unconscious, and there is in this spiritual unconscious a root activity in which the intellect and the imagination, as well as the powers of desire, love, and emotion, are engaged in common."
Thus, I consider that creative intuition is an existent which echoes and resonates in the subjectivity but also stimulates and induces the will and action in one's self to create both intra- and inter- personal manner.
Now the question is that "how can we develop these creative intuition?" I think that the therapist's relationship to music has to be explored and utilized effectively as intuition often takes place in the clinical music making, especially in the improvisation. The relationship to music itself and the amount of trust that one has with the music s/he is creating are the keys for creative intuition to be present. This means that the more one can relate to the music and the closer one is to the aesthetic means of music itself, the better polished and nurtured the intuition will be.
As a conclusion for the moment, I have come up with a phrase that we need to be "developing and nurturing one's tacit musicking" which I have named in reference to what Polanyi (1969) states in his philosophy of "tacit knowing". In the research field, Lincoln and Guba (1985) present "tacit knowledge" as one the fourteen characteristics of operational naturalistic inquiry. They state that the tacit knowing is used by all human beings in conducting their daily affairs, not just that which can be stated formally in verbal language. Therefore, all these types of knowledge are used by researcher to gain a more complete understanding of a particular setting, group or phenomenon.
Polanyi (1969) sums up the meaning of tacit knowing as "we may be said to interiorize these things or to pour ourselves into them. It is by dwelling in them that we make them mean something on which we focus our attention."
Therefore, in order to resonate within one's self and with the others in music making, we need to enhance one's integrated listening ability, trust our intuition, and we must dwell in the music to make them mean something on which we can focus our attention and share it with our clients. Of course, it is the parallel process for the educators at the same time when training the students.
Amir, D. (1995). On Sound, Music, Listening, and Music therapy. (p.51-57). In Kenny, C. (Ed). (1995) Listening, Playing, Creating: Essays on the Power of Sound. New York: State University of New York Press.
Brescia, T. (2004). A Qualitative Study of Intuition as Experienced and Used by Music Therapists. Doctoral Dissertation, New York University.
Khan, H. I. (1996). The Mysticism of Sound and Music. Shambhala, Boston & London, 1996.
Maritain, J. (1955). Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry. Meridian Books, New York.
McMaster, N. (1995). Listening: A Sacred Act. (p.71-74). In Kenny, C. (Ed). (1995) Listening, Playing, Creating: Essays on the Power of Sound. New York: State University of New York Press.
Okazaki, K. & Hata, N. (2003). A Sensitizing Training Experience in Music Therapy: Perspectives of the Trainee's and the Trainer's. Research Institute Bulletin, Vol. 17, Kunitachi College of Music.
Polanyi, M. (Edited by Grene, G. )(1969). Knowing and Being: Essays by Michael Polanyi. The University of Chicago Press.
Smith, C.T. (1948). Music and Reason: The Art of Listening, Appreciating and Composing. New York. Social Sciences Publishers.
Yukawa, H. (1968). Creativity and Intuition: A Physicist Looks at East and West. Kodansha International Ltd., Tokyo, New York, San Francisco.
Okazaki-Sakaue, Kana (2009). "To Resonate" in Music Therapy - Some Thoughts on How to Guide This Particular Technique in Music Therapy Training. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 16, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=colsakaue210909