Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bringing it all back to "Do"

I live in New Jersey, and everywhere I went during the two weeks after mega storm Sandy (work, the grocery store, the library, the gas station), people asked me, "Did you lose power?" 

And I was struck by the metaphor contained in the question: "Did you lose power?" 

People in this area experienced, quite literally, being- let alone feeling- "powerless" (on a lot of different levels). They struggled through "power failure" and had to wait for their "power to be restored." 

Many of my students at Montclair experienced "loss of power", leaving them sounding  somewhat rattled when we returned to class. A music therapist I know described her disabled clients' distress as they coped with yet another storm requiring their temporary relocation to safer and warmer living quarters (we had Hurricane Irene last year, along with a freak snow storm at the end of October, both of which caused a lot of power outage and flooding). 

In pondering our collective experience, I got to thinking, as I tend to do, about how this connects to our work as music therapists- how we react to the unbalancing effect of going through a frightening experience such as a major hurricane (for example). 

As I played around in my mind with this idea of power loss and restoration, I thought about how we in music therapy are, essentially, working in a musical way to restore power, intra- and inter-personally. 

And, sure, this may be sort of a weird way to say it, but, if I were to say this using musical terms, I guess I'd be saying that in music therapy we're working toward "bring(ing) us back to 'Do'." 

[A special thank you to MJ Landaker for her recent post about the important connection between music theory and music therapy. It certainly helps to understand why music is so "powerful" (if you will).]  


GirlWithTheCane said...

Hi Roia!

I was excited to see a post from you! I'm glad to hear that you got through the storm okay, and I hope that things get back to "normal" for you soon...we've been watching the coverage here in Canada...

What a wonderful reflection! I've found, as a person that works with people with intellectual disabilities in a support/planning capacity, that understanding and acknowledging that that the people I support often do feel very powerless is essential for assisting them to successfully meet goals. And the real trick is not to inadvertently set up a power differential between myself and them as we work together...that requires a lot of self-monitoring (and in good agencies, monitoring each other). I've had people I support call me on it as well, which is very humbling!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Roia Rafieyan said...

Hey, Sarah- Sorry it's taken me absolutely forever to respond! Life got crazy busy for a while. I think people rarely think about power until they've been in a position of powerlessness. Or if their clients have helped them feel that experience.

You're absolutely spot on in noting the need for consistent self-awareness. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment (and being endlessly patient until I finally got around to commenting back)!

Roia Rafieyan said...
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