Friday, May 6, 2011

Journal Prompt #1 (The sounds of silence)

Inspired by the very pleasant time I had with the "Joys of Journaling" workshop participants last night (thanks, guys!), I thought it might be cool to dedicate a weekly (or so) (we can always hope) blog post to sharing ideas with you of things you might like to explore and process in some form of journal.

You could do your journaling in the "old fashioned way, with pen and paper and keep it private (which would be glorious). Or you could do it in an alternative (and more public) form (such as in a blog post, a vlog, as a song, a musical improvisation, a piece of artwork, poetry, or in whatever fascinating form you come up with that I haven't even thought of yet).

The way I see it, you'd be welcome (heck, you'd be encouraged!) to share your thoughts through the Comments you leave (just share a link to the web-place you'd like us to visit to check out your thoughts, ideas, insights and artwork). 

So, in honor of this being the very first journal prompt (hence the title: Journal Prompt #1- not a particularly inspired title, I know, but this is about you and your journaling journey and not so much about me and my weird blog post titles), I'll invite you to think about what we worked on last night:

Think about the experience of silence in your sessions:
Have you had a session in which there was silence for a period of time? Either your silence, your client's silence, or a silent group?
Explore what this silence felt like?
If you could have given it a sound, what sort(s) of sound would best express this silence?
How do you usually respond to silence (outside of your work)? Why?
What was it about this silence that evoked the particular response/reaction you experienced?
Ask yourself: if I were to visually describe this silence (or perhaps create a piece of art or movement), perhaps to kinesthetically express this silence, what would it look, sound, and/or feel like?
What are the qualities you'd find yourself exaggerating? And what are the qualities you might have ignored?
If there aren't any silences in your sessions at all, what's that like? And why?

Go for it, my friends! 


Bonnie Hayhurst said...

This is a WONDERFUL idea Roia. As I read what you worked on in group, I was immediately reminded of a moment I had this week with a 10 y/o boy with limited language and severe Autism. We had just finished singing a special hello song I created just for him to encourage eye contact when saying hello and we both just starred into each others eyes for a few seconds. Silence. We simultaneously began to grin. Silence. Then we both grinned from ear to ear. Silence. Then the silence was broken with laughter, as we continued to connect. It was a profound moment in which I felt I saw this client's true self come out as I spoke, "I see you ______." He confidently responded by pointing to himself, speaking one word ever so clearly, "Me." It was truly a beautiful moment.


Thank you for doing this! I've been an on again - off again journaler all my life. I find my old journals, read them and then throw them out because I'm so embarrassed. I just don't particularly like to look back... I am truly like a good wine and get better with age :)

But I know I should be taking time to look at my work and process my feelings during sessions. And, I think my lack of affection for journaling has really blocked me for doing that. So, I'm really thankful for this series you are starting and I'm really committed to sticking with it. :)

Roia said...

What a beautiful story @Bonnie! Thank you for sharing it. Those are the moments we need in our music therapy lives, aren't they? They keep us going when we're floundering away and wondering where we went wrong. :- ) Can't wait to hear more of your experiences!

@Michelle You are most welcome, and thank you for joining in! If it makes you feel better, I have two people lined up to come over and burn my journals (withOUT reading them, thank you very much) when I die (obsessive? Moi?). I think we write so we can learn to think and hear ourselves, but we certainly don't have to hear our old stuff over and over again, so write it and move along, I say.

You, my dear, have a whole technological arsenal at your very fingertips, so you certainly don't have to go the usual journal route. You do, after all, blog and podcast and so forth. I shall await your inner brilliance with great anticipation!

Kat Fulton said...

Love how this is provoking so much thought in our community and on twitter!

When silence occurs in my sessions, it is usually at the end of a sentimental music experience... maybe a song, or an improvisation when we fade out at the end... then there's a big full breath. I love to sit in the silence for a while after experiences like that.

Mmmm Mmm Mmm. Those moments of silence are so juicy. It feels like the silence is necessary to get reaquainted with the regular world again.

Julie said...

I love this prompt to reflect on silence in a variety of settings. I LOVED Bonnie's story - thanks for sharing that! I find that, in MT sessions, silence is often vital in giving my student-clients enough processing and response time. During this silence, I am deeply "tuned in", so to speak, with the client's affect, body language, concentration, etc. These are the precious moments that are so rarely found in our public school settings.

As for silence on my own time, I definitely savor it. I have 2 rowdy boys at home, so silence is not a common occurrence in my daily existence. There are times when silence is so necessary, comfortable, and not long enough! ;-)

Rachelle said...

Wow, Roia, I could write many pages on this topic, but here are the couple of thoughts that have come most strongly to mind:

One is the juiciness of some silences that Kat mentioned. My favorite is when I'm working with a group of adults with dementia, especially when drumming, and we come to the end of our improvisation and all manage to stop together on the same beat. They often are so scattered and not much in tune with each other, that it is amazing to hear that silence that means we were all together for once. I've had staff members comment on that kind of silence, too - it's definitely a "wow" moment for them, too.

The other thing I've been thinking about is way back in one of my first clinical practica, with teen girls in a psychiatric hospital, my supervisor told me that I was allowing too much silence after posing questions to the group and basically that it was my job to fill the silences before the clients became too uncomfortable and shut down. I know she was right about me leaving too much silence, but I also think she was uncomfortable with the silences, too, and maybe didn't always let the clients have the space to say what they needed to say. It's a difficult thing to balance in both verbal processing and musical interactions.

For myself, I feel like I need silence in my life. I often like to have (relative) silence in my car when I drive between sessions, and I love the quiet time I have before going to bed each night, whereas my husband can pass out watching a loud movie.

Thank you for the prompt! I look forward to the next one :-)

Roia said...

@Julie @Kat and @Rachelle Thank you, all, so much for sharing your experiences. As I read everyone's comments and thoughts, I wanted to add a few more questions for consideration that came to mind:

*Do we allow for silence in sessions (other than at ending of songs)?
*How does silence in a music therapy session differ when you work with people who have dementia, people who are dying, with children, with someone who doesn't use speech as their main communication mode?
*What do we notice in the silence (about our clients, about ourselves)?