Persephone - Chapter Six - Getting Into a Routine

Let's see - when we last left off, Persephone was trying to answer a question about her own use of music for a therapeutic benefit. (Here's an excerpt from the post on May 9, 2020)

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.

Every single time Persephone was asked about her favorite music, she was unable to answer the question immediately. She had so many different songs that she loved that choosing just one seemed to slight the others in some way. Her personal music collection had over 500 songs on it - songs that held special meaning for her in some way or another. Some of the songs were her favorites because of Evander, some because Gram played them, and others were things that she had found for herself. In her collection she had songs from all genres, all time frames, and all styles. Her music listening would skip from classical pieces from Sibelius to German Death Metal and that suited her just fine. Persephone rarely shared her music selections with others because others just didn't seem to understand the beauty and meaning that she found in all the pieces. Others just wanted things to be all of one thing or another - all country music or all love songs - and Persephone found that a bit boring. There was so much more to music than just one label.

Persephone searched through her digital music files, skipping from song to song and trying to find the perfect fit. Breathe 2 a.m. by Anna Nalick? Nope, that was not quite the music she was searching for. It did not fit the emotion she was seeking. She kept looking and listening, switching from song to song to find just the right song for this question. As she searched, she wrote about the songs that she was rejecting and why they were not quite what she wanted. She kept scrolling through her playlist until she found the song that seemed to exemplify all the things that she was feeling and that she needed to express.

The song that I selected after many attempts, Persephone wrote in her answer, is Master Alarm by James Horner from the soundtrack to Apollo 13. This piece, 3 minutes and 32 seconds in length, seems to follow the emotions that I am feeling about all of the new experiences that I am having right now. The tempo is consistent, but there are different musical patterns happening throughout the piece that offer feelings of turmoil and uncertainty while others play a foundational role in the music. When this piece is followed by the next part of the soundtrack, Into the LEM, you can sense a change between the frenzy of the alarm into the process of making a plan and moving through the uncertainty to a structure.

As for the process of music selection, I find this a difficult task every time I am asked to find some sort of music to describe me. I looked through my music files for about an hour and a half, trying songs to find one that fit my current state. Many of my songs almost fit but did not seem to completely encapsulate all of the things that I feel during this first week of music therapy coursework. After trying on many different songs, I finally found one that seemed to mesh with my feelings about this assignment and my overall emotional state.

I often find it difficult to select music for myself, especially when directed to share my reasons for the selection. I do not often think about music as something with a definite purpose in my own life, but I know what I like and what I do not like. Those preferences and non-preferences change without much reason, and I often find myself having to justify my musical selections and preferences to others who do not share my tastes. My mother and father say that my style is best described as "eclectic," but I am not sure that is really the best word. All of my favorites share things with one another, but often those similarities are lost when I try to discuss them with other people. They hear abrupt changes from Finlandia by Sibelius followed by music from the Barenaked Ladies followed by Imagination sung by Jim Henson and then finishing off with Enter Sandman by Metallica, and they want to know how I can switch between these types of music so quickly. I cannot describe why I crave these types of changes because they all fit within my love of music. It is a part of who I am.

Persephone lifted her fingers from the keyboard and stared at the screen. Was this too much honesty for the first week of school? Would anyone else know what she was trying to express? Did her response even answer the question? She was tired and ready to move to the next part of her study regime, but she was also feeling vulnerable.

She checked the word count, 429 words, not quite enough. She needed to write a bit more to get to the required amount. What else could she write about? She took a deep breath and started typing again.

My final thoughts about this project include that I hope we do not have to do this very often. I find this type of project to be exhausting. I wonder if this type of challenge is what music therapy clients go through when they are asked to share music or create music for themselves during sessions. I wonder if I would be able to make my own music that illustrates my current emotional state more easily than finding a piece by someone else. I think I will close this reflection and make some music for myself.

Certainly that was over 500 words.

Persephone submitted her response and reached for her keyboard. She started improvising as Evelyn, her brother's music therapist, had demonstrated. Start recording. Set key and chord progression. Repeat said progression changing one element of the music at a time until the music felt right in the moment. Persephone felt the music start to take on different nuances that seemed to express her feelings of trepidation and exhilaration. She played until she was exhausted, and then Persephone fell asleep to the recording of the music she had made, listening to the music and how it moved from theme to theme and feeling to feeling.

She slept well until morning.


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