Friday, July 1, 2011

The Transformers Choir & the power of music to heal.



Songwriting as a tool to process grief.

Dr Felicity Baker at the Happiness and its Causes conference discussed research into the power of music which showed that listening to music helps people who have had strokes improve their cognition and ability to think. She also discussed the therapeutic value of songwriting as a tool to help process grief as well as joy.

It’s like telling healing stories in a musical way. 

We heard in a panel discussion that musicians are sensitive souls who need to understand the depth of human emotions to be able to express them through song and music.

“It’s a gift to be able to move people to tears. Musicians are sensitive souls and need to understand emotion and to share, to be vulnerable in front of an audience for a living, to lay oneself bare, for the emotions to be bare, as a gift to the audience”.


The Transformers Choir
The Transformers are a group who experience extreme disadvantage in their communities and may experience mental health problems, general disability and homelessness in inner city Brisbane. Nonetheless they rehearse weekly and perform regularly. Their motto is a quote from Hans Christian Andersen: “Where words fail, music speaks”.
Transformers Choir - pic from here
The goal in creating the Transformers Choir was to bring people together as part of a community, to connect with others and let music do its magic. Creating music added a new focus to their lives. Participating in the group has given meaning to many and some group members say they feel less depressed. Apparently focusing on creativity in one sphere of our lives can encourage us to be creative in how we deal with ourselves in other areas.

The Transformer’s songwriter Brian Procopis, listens carefully to group members and collaborates fully with the contributors, it’s their experience he’s writing about, not his, and he’s very respectful of this. The bad stuff in life isn’t ignored or denied, and is incorporated into song, but the primary focus is on creativity and the process of writing the song. This was a really powerful illustration of the therapeutic effect of music and song that Dr Felicity Baker mentioned.

So much to think about. I’m in awe of the courage it must take to perform on stage when you are vulnerable, not only as a musician but as a member of a group disengaged from mainstream society.

This comment moved me deeply:  “The Transformers want to be inspirational and give to the audience”.

There we were, a privileged audience, consisting of professional, medical, creative, religious, artistic, and generally well to do people, being offered a gift from those who have little to give, expect themselves, their voices and their experiences.

It's really the greatest gift of all isn't it, to give yourself. Not a thing, not something with a dollar value, but yourself. They have nothing, but they gave everything.

I felt gratitude, but also humbled, privileged, honoured, energised, uplifted, and moved to tears.

They received a standing ovation.


***

Creativity. Music. Curiosity. 
A great combination to begin the healing process after bullying.


Given what we now know about the power of song-writing to aid healing, it'd be great if those who have been the targets of bullying, and are hurting in other ways, could have a go at writing about your experience in song and perhaps make up a tune for it. Or if that's a bit too daunting to start with, try singing a song perhaps while washing the dishes.  See what happens. Be inspired by the very obvious benefits the Transformers experience and see how it pans out in your life.

Articles about the Transformers Choir here and here.
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4 comments:

Better is Possible said...

Love this. Thanks for the links as well. I use music therapy in my counselling and the mystery of its healing never ceases to touch my soul.

sue said...

BiP, thankyou, the presentations on the power of music were excellent.

walk2write said...

My daughter the massage therapist is also a musician and songwriter. She's been thinking about pursuing a career in music therapy. Here in the States, it's been slow to catch on. Hopefully, that will soon change.

sue said...

W2W, it's not as common here as therapists would like given that we know how powerful a tool it is for healing.