Persephone - Chapter Five - I Really Need a Title For All of This Writing...

This morning was the first morning in what seems like forever that I have a) woke up at the time I would always like to wake up (4:30 am) and b) felt refreshed after sleeping. It is such a good feeling to be rested and ready for whatever happens today. It is time for more futurist thoughts about music therapy and what things may happen for my hero, Persephone. I wonder where my story will take me today...

Tuesday started very early. The alarm went off at 5 am, and Persephone reached out to silence it before hauling herself out of bed and stumbling to her small bathroom suite. She had three hours before her first class of the day and still needed to work on her assignments from the day before. 

The first day of her new course of study had been slightly overwhelming.

Persephone had not been around that many people all in one room in, well, ever. Her experience of school and university was only from the perspective of distance learning and virtual interactions, so being one of four thousand people in one hall was a completely new experience. Even the clinical musicianship class, where there were only 29 other students, was still more people than she was used to learning with on a regular basis. 

Day two was going to start in a bit, and Persephone felt that she needed to prepare herself a bit more for the interactions. First, though, she really needed to start on her assignments. After the first day, she had four chapters to read for Dr. Licar's class, three reflection essays for her laboratory section, and six songs to memorize for clinical musicianship. She reached for her styluses and turned on her monitor, signing in with her number and fingerprint.

First reflection topic: What are your earliest personal memories of music or musical interaction with others? (Minimum - 500 words; Maximum - 2000 words)

Persephone sat and stared at the screen, trying to remember some incident that would work with the question. She had never really been aware that music did not exist in the lives of other people. Mama and Dad had sung together all the time. Evander would make his sounds, and she would sing along with them. It was one of the benefits of being in a musical family - there was always music happening. Persephone had started playing around with the instruments that were always coming into Dad's workshop for repair as soon as she could walk, but her favorites had always been the cornets that came in.

There was something quite satisfying about playing an instrument that demanded attention when you played it, and Persephone enjoyed playing the cornet that Mama and Dad had given her for her seventh birthday. Evander seemed to enjoy her playing as well, and both he and Persephone would play together on their instruments - cornet for her and his voicebox and various other instruments as the mood struck them both. Evander had continued working with his music therapist, Evelyn, the music therapist, came weekly to work with Evander on many different things. Sometimes she would ask him to write music, other times they would make exercise program playlists to motivate him to work on his strengthening, still other times they would drum loudly. Persephone was sometimes invited to participate with them, but most of the music that she shared with her brother was just between the two of them.

What were her earliest personal memories of music or musical interaction?

Persephone stared at the screen for a long time, attempting to figure out how to express something that was not something memorable, but that was just something that was always there. She started writing.

After a quick check to see if her assignment followed the guidelines outlined in the task, she submitted her essay to her lab instructor and picked up her guitar.

Time to start practicing a bit to refresh her brain and work on her second task for the morning - memorization.

She practiced her scales, her chords, and her chord progressions. The six songs that had been assigned utilized the same chords - I, vi, IV, iii, and V chords. She had a pool of three keys to play through for her next class session on Wednesday and six sets of lyrics to keep straight. She had spent some time listening to the original artists' performances, so she felt ready to start singing the songs for herself. She started the film function on her desktop to keep track of her practice session and started singing.

As it usually did, singing spurred her train of thought into original compositions. Persephone had learned to grab her staff stylus and write those compositions down to purge them from her brain and to allow her to move back into her practice. She grabbed her stylus, made some quick notations, and then returned to the music she had to memorize. Don't Stop Believing by Journey was not difficult, and Grams loved that song so Persephone had heard it often. The Day We All Walked Out by Little Red and Pandemania told another story, so that was another one that was pretty easy to remember. Her biggest challenges were some really old songs that she had never really heard before. There was one called Goodnight Sweetheart that followed a predictable pattern but it was not something she had performed in the past.

While she worked on her assigned songs and unassigned compositions, she thought about the next reflection question.

Second reflection question: Select one song that illustrates your current emotional state. Add your favorite performance of this song to this essay. Describe why you selected this song. Describe why you selected the particular performance. Reflect on the experience of selecting a song. Was it easy or difficult to choose the song or the performance? (Minimum - 500 words; Maximum - 2000 words) 

This was difficult to answer. Current emotional state? Should she be honest or pretend that everything was completely positive? To be completely honest, her emotional state was somewhere between complete terror and pure exhilaration. Was there a song that encompassed both of those emotions for her? She set the guitar down and went to her music collection to see what she could find.

To be continued...

Alright folks - it's me, MJ, again, and I think I've come to a stopping point for today. I wonder what song I would choose for that second reflection question...

I would have difficulty with both of those questions, to tell the truth. I don't have a particular memory of music coming into my life or not being present. My mother sang us all our own set of lullabies, and we all sang together most of the time, but especially in the car! My sister used to drive me bonkers because she would sing half of a musical phrase and then repeat the same half of that phrase. She wouldn't finish the song until I sang with her. Quite a nifty way of getting attention, isn't it?? My brother and sister and I played instruments and sang in the church choir. My sister took over the school choir after she decided that band was not really for her. My brother and I played in all of the various bands that high school had to offer - well, I guess I was a bit more involved than he was - I did jazz, and I don't recall that he ever did. It was obvious to me that music was a big part of my future early on in my life, and I was fortunate to hear about music therapy the summer before I started high school. There was no other path for me. Music has been such an influence for me that I can't really tell when it began.

The second question is one that is always impossible for me to answer. I tend to go towards my favorite songs rather than finding something that reflects my emotional state - my favorites change so often that selecting one of those is probably a good indication of my emotional state, but I don't think it goes the other way around. My current favorite is one of my all-time favorites - Dar Williams' What Do You Hear in These Sounds. It is one of my selfish songs - one of the ones that I will never use in therapy because it means to much to me personally, and I don't want to change the extramusical associations to those of clients'. Right now, I need reminders that it is okay to be struggling with different emotions and responses and fears and joys and both positive and negative thinking. The song encapsulates this for me, and it always will. In addition, it brings in the concept of sound as therapy - a natural thought for a music therapist. I have no idea where I first heard this song, but I fell in love with it from the very start.

How would you answer those reflection questions? What do you think the instructors are looking for in this assignment? Would your answers have been different at the start of your music therapy coursework compared to now? I would love to know what you think!!

Leave a comment below!


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