As music therapists, we have to write a lot of songs. Sometimes we have time to think through the songwriting process and other times we have to write them on the spot. Throughout internship I’ve had the opportunity to write many songs. I have always loved songwriting, but writing for clients is so different from writing songs for yourself.
One process that is effective for writing for the clinic is from Laurie Farnan’s Composing Music for Use in Therapy.
Taking yourself through the songwriting process is fun and exciting. It’s also great practice for when you have to think of a song in the moment.
First, think about why you are writing your song. What is the purpose? Focus one task. It’s great to write down a list of key words that relate to the task. That way, you can stay on topic.
From this point, write lyrics. Create simple, repetitive lyrics.
Next, set the words to music. When doing this, make sure you use a small, singable range. Think about the range of the client that you are writing for. Accent your target words as well. Make sure they stand out.
We don’t always have to use this process, but it is a great process to use. Sometimes when I’m driving a melody will pop into my head and I’ll set words to that. Other times I’ll use a chord progression generator to create a melody. Piggyback songs are a good option too for some clients, especially if you are writing a song together.
There are so many ways to go about writing a song. Practicing these ways will help you when you have to think of a song on the spot.
What is your songwriting method?
The Strengths Finders test is a great way to discover yourself as a person as well as how you can work with others around you. Researching your strengths makes you more aware of them so you are able to use them in everyday settings.
One strength that I have that I feel has come out in my internship is individualization. This means I am intrigued by the “unique qualities of each person.” People who have individualization as a strength can help people work together by capitalizing the strengths of each individual on a team.
Another strength that I have is futuristic. I look ahead, over the horizon to see what’s coming next. I like to set goals for myself. I love thinking about ideas that could happen in the future.
It is important to know your strengths so you can get a sense of how you work with others. It is also important to figure out how others can work with you. For example, if i have a vision, I need to find someone who has the strength of putting things into action.
What are some of your strengths?
This Ted Talk by Temple Grandin is so inspiring. Grandin is a professor at Colorado State University. She is also diagnosed with autism. In her Ted Talk she inspires people to step away from verbal speaking and use visuals in order to communicate effectively with someone with autism. Grandin talks about how her brain works in associations. In fact, she compares it to Google Images. If you say one word she digs through her catalog and pulls up pictures that she associates with that word.
Everyone’s brain is different. Learning how people with ASD think is so important. Grandin talks about three different types of thinkers: visual, music and math, and verbal logical.
Unfortunately, sometimes people focus on what a person with autism can’t do. Learning the strengths of the different types of thinkers allows one to focus on what an individual can excel in. Using visual supports for visual thinkers is so important because they pull up those “Google Images” in order to process something. Understanding how people think is important so we can pull out their strengths and see how they work together.