Music Therapy: Shall I Continue To Enquire?

A quick post today, as I must exercise.

Music therapy?  Is this a profession for me?  Or is music simply a prison for my mind?

Why has my mind reacted so terribly to music in the past?  Is it because of the music itself, or because of the “conditions” it came with?

Me, a highly musical person.  Raised in a home where there was shouting from my father.  His voice made the air tremble.  His shrieking was at a demonic frequency.  I remember hiding myself in a room, by myself.  But I couldn’t hide what I heard.  Banging.  Shouting.

At my grandparents’ house, there was just the radio.  Me, playing with my little Sylvanian dolls, with screaming people like Bob Grant and Rush Limbaugh.  I didn’t really know what they were talking about, but they were just screaming.  And also, I was a Suzuki violin student.  Which meant that I listened to the same songs every day, for years.  The Suzuki method is such, that it encourages parents to play tapes of music that the child will eventually learn.  But for me, the tapes were the only music I ever heard.

Not that I didn’t hear other music.  But… I was a “musician.”  I was more “educated” than the average person, and so average music wasn’t for me.  But… looking back on it… me, and all my music education… robbed me of the innocence of simply enjoying music.

Because I always “knew better.”  I “knew better” than Green Day or the Beatles or whatever.  The first non-classical music that I ever loved was Sean Paul.  In the 9th grade.  Because… I broke down, ended up in the hospital, and that’s what the kids were playing in the day room.

That music… represented freedom.  That late 90s Caribbean music, Reggae Gold ’99… it represented everything that I hated, spun to gold.  When I left the hospital, I quit the viola, and listened to Eminem instead.  Again.  Freedom.  And with Eminem, sharp intellect.  I guess.  I identified.

I’m almost 30.  I look back, and I think that, as much of a musician as I am, trained and all… my life was so devoid of musical enjoyment.  Music was a source of misery and hatred.  It was a prison.  It’s sad.  Those who are talented enough to be excellent musicians, are also subject to the most horrible of musical tortures.  “Perfection.”  “Practice makes perfect.”  “Elitism.”

We are not in the 18th century anymore.  We don’t have to repeat a passage 100 times to play it well enough without mistakes.  You just record it, and fine.  I mean… yes, it is important that people continue this tradition.  But that mentality is not required to move someone’s spirit.  Is it?  I play here and there, with my mistakes, and people think it is wonderful just the same.  I have seen people play the most difficult pieces on the violin, and I am not moved a bit.  Or a small child play the simplest tune, and I am affected.

What is going on here?

I am at a crossroads now.  As a mental health worker, do I dare integrate music into my work, or do I veer away completely?  I know that the first step in music therapy work, is to do some work on myself.  Am I exempt from it though?  Am I a person that rejects music, when it helps so many?  Am I “allergic” to music?  Or have I simply been malnourished?

I recently read the book A Child Called It, by Dave Pelzer.  The writer retells his childhood, where he was terribly abused by his mother.  As a child, abuse was all he knew.  But his story gives me such hope.  If I, a musician, only knew the sounds of terror and repetition… even I have a hope of a future that is filled with beautiful sound.

I feel somewhat like a feral child.  For example, I couldn’t tell the difference between Billy Joel and the Beatles until I was about 25 years old… I began writing my own music a few years ago, and everyone was so surprised that it sounded like nobody else.  Except maybe Gilbert and Sullivan.

I must exercise now.  But I want to continue fighting.

I like the German word for poison: “Gift.”  Indeed, music is my gift.  And my poison.  Perhaps it is also my cure.

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