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Just sing…

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									Music Therapy Today
Vol. VII (4) (December)

                          Just sing…

                          Boymanns, Britta

                          Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December)
                          Vol.VII (4) 913-931.

                          The article will give a view into seven years of music therapy at the Day
                          Clinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy in Witten. In the first section, I
                          will describe the setting and in the second section I will present the major
                          aspects of my work. My experiences from the past seven years of practi-
                          cal work have shown that singing simple songs and canons can have a
                          deep therapeutic effect at various levels of human existence, and encour-
                          age social growth in the community. To do this, it needs an exact choice
                          of songs and preparation of the material, a free but friendly inviting
                          approach towards individuals, exact and targeted musical – artistic work
                          on the songs spiced with much humor and joy – and an openness towards
                          all dimensions of humans and music. I can only recommend music thera-
                          pists to discover and continually develop this and put the therapeutic
                          dimensions and qualities of group singing to good use for those who are

                          The Day Clinic
                          The Day Clinic in Witten exists since December 1998. It is a department
                          of the Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus, the Community Hospital in Herdecke
                          and follows a holistic concept based on anthroposophy. The team at the

Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                          Day Clinic consists of 2 medical doctors, a psychologist, three nurses,
                          four art therapists, one social worker and a secretary. With the exception
                          of the doctors and nurses all colleagues have part-time positions of
                          between twenty and fifty percent.

                          At the Clinic, patients over 18 years of age and with a diverse range of
                          psychological illnesses are treated:

                          •   psychosis
                          •   neurosis
                          •   all forms of depression
                          •   personality disorders
                          •   psychological crisis
                          •   psychosomatic illnesses

                          Excluded from treatment at the Day Clinic are:

                          • acute suicidal individuals
                          • people with primary addictive disorders
                          • people with severe organic brain illnesses or severe mental disorders

                          as the Clinic’s concept does not provide for such cases, nor is the
                          required personnel available.

                          The medical and psychotherapeutic treatment is in the form of group and
                          individual therapy and the medication therapy covers anthroposophic
                          medication and psychopharmaceuticals. These are complemented by
                          physical treatment in the form of massage and balneotherapy. Alongside
                          the medical treatment, art therapies are provided in the form of drawing,
                          modeling and work therapy, healing eurythmia and music therapy. In
                          addition, the nursing staff offers further groups including storytelling,
                          role playing, sports, Tai Chi, relaxation group, gardening and cooking

                          The Day Clinic                                                        914
 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           The daily structure is shown in the therapy plan. In the morning: arrival
                           and communal start in the ”Morgenkreis” or morning circle. After this,
                           the two basis groups begin, where patients together with one of the nurs-
                           ing staff recall events of the previous day or the weekend. On Wednes-
                           days there is a group meeting for the patients where they are on their own
                           to exchange thoughts and ideas and to organize minor duties. There are
                           therapy appointments before and after lunch until the joint end of the day.
                           And last not least: teatime at the end of the week on Friday afternoons.

                           Based on interaction with patients, the therapists develop individual ther-
                           apy programs. In the various team meetings there is intensive exchange
                           to make sure that the therapy aims, which are often formulated by
                           patients themselves, are pursued.

                           The official understanding of the concept in the Center is as follows, I
                           quote, ”Support the patients or persons in need of help to recognize their
                           possibilities, and in the interaction with their bodies, their fate and their
                           environment to achieve new possibilities of realization”.

MUSIC THERAPY AS           Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy has been practiced in the Gemein-
CONCEPT                    schaftskrankenhaus (GKH) since 1978, initially in the context of the two-
                           years mentor course which then grew to be the university-based training
                           course at the University of Witten/Herdecke. Even after the University
                           moved from GKH to new locations, GKH was and is the site for practice,
                           training and research. So in the conception of the Day Clinic, it was not
                           the question of whether music therapy would be included, but how. Out
                           of the work on the concept, four forms of music therapy emerged, along-
                           side the known individual and group therapy, the new forms ”Morgen-
                           kreis”, which translates directly as ”morning circle”, and ”Offenes
                           Singen” which means ”open singing”. These developed as a response to
                           the question about possibilities of musical activities with groups of

                           The Day Clinic                                                           915
 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           twenty to thirty participants and also reflects the ”tradition” of morning
                           and evening groups as a concrete element in the daily structure in anthro-
                           posophic institutions.

                           The ”Morgenkreis”
                           With the ”Morgenkreis” the communal day begins. Everyone who is at
                           the Clinic at this time takes part: patients, employees, students, guests
                           and so on. Participation in the Morgenkreis is obligatory as it is part of all
                           prescribed therapies.

                           The Morgenkreis has practical functions:

                           • to greet all who are in the clinic, particularly new patients
                           • to greet and introduce new students and guests
                           • to share general information of interest for everyone.

                           The Morgenkreis also offers an opportunity to assess the state and condi-
                           tion of patients, answers the question whether everyone is present and
                           provides a communal start to the day. In addition, all birthdays are cele-
                           brated in the large group with a birthday song, which is for some an
                           unusual and special event.

                           I lead the Morgenkreis on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On the
                           other days and in the afternoons, other colleagues lead these ten minutes
                           with a short dance, a communicative ball or word game, or the phrasing
                           of a motto or slogan and so on.

THE ”OPEN SINGING”         Open singing takes place once a week on Wednesdays from 09.00 to
                           09.45. In the largest room of the Clinic the tables are put aside and the
                           chairs are formed in a half-circle, each with a songbook. Then the piano
                           is rolled in. As an invitation, I begin to play the first song and improvise
                           until all patients have arrived and get ready to sing with me.

                           The ”Morgenkreis”                                                        916
 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

THE OPEN SINGING IS        1. It is not obligatory, that means all participants are here as volunteers.
”OPEN” IN SEVERAL             Most come initially out of curiosity. Furthermore, it is easier to over-
                              come inhibitions for this type of activity than in other settings, as all
                              patients know me and my activities from the Morgenkreis.
                           2. The room in which it takes place is open – architecturally open to the
                              staircase and entrance area. This means that patients can listen without
                              being noticed, and that visitors, waiting to go to the secretaries office
                              stand and listen to what is going on. In this way, there is an optimal
                              mixture of secure space and openness that allows the possibility of a
                              public appearance within a protected setting.
                           3. In addition, the open singing is a welcome opportunity for ex-patients
                              who enjoy coming to the clinic for singing. On average, five to seven
                              ex-patients with good voices and good spirit join in and support the
                              rest of the group. The singing is also open for all colleagues who may
                              come in for a favorite song or even manage to find time to take part in
                              the whole session. Guests and short-term students can experience a
                              part of my work without creating any difficulties for our patients.

CONCEPT OF THE             Selection of songs. The songs are selected very carefully. As time has
OPEN SINGING               passed, various selection criteria have developed:

                           1. Well known songs: Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus
                           2. Seasonal songs: songs of May or summer
                           3. Swinging songs: Dubidu
                           4. Fun songs: Wüstenkanon
                           5. Gospel and other spiritual songs: We shall overcome
                           6. Day Clinic Hits: Zwei kleine Wölfe
                           7. International songs: Shalom chaverim
                           8. Patient requests: Heute hier, morgen dort
                           9. Canons: Come follow me

                           The songs must be appropriate and understandable for patients both in
                           theme and content. They often have a direct reference to life, such as
                           birthday songs, morning songs (”Morning has broken”) or recreate a lost
                           link such as seasonal songs or prayer songs. Oftentimes spontaneous
                           comments are made about a song and lead to short general discussions in
                           which the patients’ themes and issues become clearer and generate mat-
                           ters for further thought.

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Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                          The songs should not be too long, as, for example the 15 verses of ”Geh’
                          aus mein Herz”. The text and structure should be clearly presented and
                          well organized, hand-written notes are often problematic. A negative
                          example is the following two-part notation of ”Nun will der Lenz uns
                          grüßen”, which leads to confusion every time it is used.

                          The songs should be musically interesting. This means that they express
                          particular qualities such as ”Maienwind am Abend sacht”, a short but
                          musically clear and well-structured song. Then one usually comes
                          quickly into a musical experience.

                          The selection of songs is unique, demands careful preparation and makes
                          it impossible to purchase a songbook for each participant.

                          That is why I have created folders in various colours:

                          green– spring

                          yellow – summer

                          red – autumn

                          light blue – winter

                          dark blue – Christmas

                          purple – Collection 1

                          pink – Collection 2

                          The copies are ordered numerically. Over the years, a song collection has
                          grown that is based closely on practical use.

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Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                          How do I introduce a song?
                          Normally I play a new song on the piano or sometimes sing straight
                          away. Then I try to find out how many can sing spontaneously. Finally, I
                          leave the piano and work on the song, part for part, through singing and
                          repeating. During this I do not only practice the right notes, but begin
                          directly with the musical expression. The practicing takes place in the
                          form of exact song presentation with the instruction to carefully observe
                          particular aspects, such as the lightness of the ”Fliederblütentöne” or the
                          portato of ”Apfelblütentöne” in the song ”Maienwind am Abend”. The
                          experience of different tempi, dynamics or other elements is simply a
                          good training, but also provides different experiences and trains the per-
                          ception of coherence: How fast do I have to sing ”Fliederblüten”, how
                          does a portato feel? We complete the work with a song when the feeling
                          ”that worked well”, or ” that was lovely” or ”ahh, managed it!” arrived.

CANONS                    I work with canons often and with pleasure. They are mostly well struc-
                          tured (”Come follow me”). Most are relatively easy to learn. It becomes
                          exciting when the parts begin. There is an immediate social connection.
                          The canon only functions when we all manage to hold a pulse. Often I
                          use the resonance of the wooden floor and stomp not too gently but dis-
                          tinctly on the floor. Sometimes wild arm waving is enough and quite
                          often one feels like an animal trainer in the circus ring. These drastic
                          measures are mostly received with humor and the result can be enjoyed
                          without the loud stomping on the floor.

                          The number of parts is built slowly. Normally only two parts begin, the
                          third group listens and then we swap. Through the combination of sing-
                          ing and listening, the patients get quite confident in the parts and enjoy
                          the feeling ”I can” in an immediate way. ”I can sing”.

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 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           It is not unusual that someone has never, or only a very long time ago,
                           sung a multi-part song in a choir. This usually leads to spontaneous joy
                           and a reduction in inhibitions towards music, music therapy and the
                           music therapist.

                           For the three Morgenkreis sessions I prefer canons so that I can work on
                           three different aspects of the song, for example:

                           • Monday: Start practicing the canon, first attempt at two-part
                           • Wednesday: Practice the canon again, through listening move from
                             two-parts to three-parts
                           • Friday: After a short single-part repeats, go directly into three-part
                             singing, changing tempo and dynamics, often shifting the pitch a bit
                             higher, at the close to sing a little softer in order to hear the other parts
                             better. For me, the ”target is reached” when it sounds good, and when
                             after starting the canon I join one of the groups and sing along.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES        Solo – Tutti. Some songs – for example gospels, are well suited for solo-
                           tutti versions, such as ”Swing low, sweet chariot”. After we have prac-
                           ticed the complete song, I sing the solo part and practice the correct tutti
                           entrance. For some this is difficult enough. Then comes the exciting
                           question: who is brave enough? In a small group of 4-5 singers we find
                           success. For the very adventurous they can try out a ”real” solo. Every-
                           one of us who has had to sing alone knows what that feels like…

                           Get into the ”swing”. Some jazzy swinging songs are very popular
                           (”Zwei kleine Wölfe”). Through clapping or light movements the singers
                           feel carried along by the music, start to move and become more free in
                           their soul.

                           Steps into life. One aim at the Day Clinic work is the individual reinte-
                           gration into the ”normal” everyday life, after long-term illness in many

                           Here are two examples:

                           How do I introduce a song?                                                 920
Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                          Mr. M. came in the first year of the Day Clinic with a diagnosis of
                          depression and a severe problem of self-esteem to individual therapy. He
                          had no particular musical experience and no access to using his voice. We
                          discovered quickly however that he had a wonderful tenor voice and he
                          was interested to try it out. He made good progress, and he felt safe and
                          enjoyed his singing. He used the open singing to try himself out as a solo-
                          ist. With a great deal of excitement he sang the verses of ”Swing low”.
                          The impressed applause of his fellow patients left him with large smiles
                          and he obviously grew internally. A short time later there was a celebra-
                          tion of the Day Clinic’s first birthday. Many ex-patients came and the sit-
                          uation was public. We sang together, and with much excitement, but in a
                          beautiful voice he mastered his song. A wonderful achievement!

                          Second example:

                          On the fifth birthday of the day clinic in December (we like to party!)
                          there was a public celebration. Alongside the usual honored individuals
                          from politics and society, all ex-patients were invited to take part. At the
                          end in the early evening, we sang Christmas songs together. Without any
                          differences, the current and ex-patients stood equal with the guests and
                          therapists, and about eighty people enjoyed the full sound of emotional
                          Christmas carols, the experience of communal singing and the festive
                          mood of the coming Christmas celebrations.

                          Many patients discover a sense of deep joy and healing happiness
                          through communal singing. After the end of their time at the clinic I try to
                          help them to find a suitable choir.

                          Mr. H., who comes almost every Wednesday to sing, is, after much hesi-
                          tation and a lot of persuasion, active in the local Witten Bach choir.

                          How do I introduce a song?                                               921
Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                          Mrs. M. from Dortmund found a gospel choir in which she is getting to
                          enjoy community with others.

                          Mrs. S., who is chronically ill, sings in a choir once a week. After which
                          she says she has at least two symptom-free days. I suggested she sings
                          more often!

                          Further aspects that lead to success

                          • It is necessary to continually search for suitable new songs, so that one
                            does not fall into a pattern of routine, and also to find songs suitable
                            for the new and ever changing group of patients. This means, one can
                            hardly walk past a single new song book…
                          • One’s own routine and security is helpful and relaxing, as is the exact
                            preparation of the songs. Based on this, one is confident during the
                            sessions and can react in a flexible manner to the current situation and
                            mood of the patients.
                          • It is extraordinarily helpful to have my team who have been musically
                            trained over the past seven years. The team supports my work
                            unequivocally and with much fun. As we sang as a group at a col-
                            league’s wedding, someone asked if they could hire us for the next

                          Therapeutic dimensions and aspects of singing in the
                          day clinic
                          In our society, singing is ”out”. Most people only use the radio, the CD
                          player and the television. In most families only ”Silent night” is sung on

                          24th December. On most birthdays you hear only ”Happy birthday” in 15
                          different parts, mixed with the sound of champagne glasses after the first
                          repeat. In football stadiums there is regular singing, sorry ”grunting”. In
                          kindergarten and primary schools some effort is made but mostly without
                          much competence or success. Later at school ”learning” is more impor-
                          tant than ”doing”. Continuous critical remarks on one’s singing and com-
                          ments like ”leave your mouth closed while we are singing” make many
                          people silent for the rest of their lives. In Witten for example, there is no

                           Therapeutic dimensions and aspects of singing in the day clinic         922
Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                          secondary school with its own school choir, with the exception of the
                          Steiner School.

                          Am I right or exaggerating?

                          I hope that some protest is stirring. Over the past two or three years there
                          is a contrary movement – through projects like, ”rhythm is it” – a large
                          music and dance program in inner city crisis areas in Berlin, a growing
                          awareness of the significance of music for people and particularly in the
                          development of children. Music schools have begun to cooperate with
                          schools and offer not only instrumental courses but also children’s choirs.
                          But these projects have not yet any significant effect – it is no exaggera-
                          tion to say that over 60% of our patients have not sung a song for
                          decades. Certainly 90% of the patients have no experience with a choir,
                          no shared experiences in singing.

                          This is obvious in those patients who arrive in the Morgenkreis on their
                          first day in the Day clinic. Anxious, often with negative experiences and
                          a lot of worry about what is about to happen, they see the music therapist
                          who comes along with her colorful folders and after a friendly hello starts
                          to sing an often unknown song. They see the doctors and secretaries in
                          the circle also searching for the right note and the beat. The commonly
                          strong reactions range between embarrassment, wonder, defense, inquisi-
                          tiveness, and also indignation and fear. Mostly the feelings are overrid-
                          den by inquisitiveness. Nobody attracts notice who tries tentatively to
                          join in singing. The social need to belong commonly leads the patients to
                          join in.

                          Concentration on the musical work often helps them to forget everything
                          else and to overcome the surprise or embarrassment of one’s own voice
                          easily. The ”success” after 10 minutes leads mostly to a feeling of sponta-

                           Therapeutic dimensions and aspects of singing in the day clinic        923
 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           neous joy or at least comfort and relaxation: ”I have presented myself and
                           have belonged”. After one song, one is no longer a stranger, contact is
                           easier and a good start has been made. This makes contact with nurses
                           and therapists easier, too. It is easier to talk about one’s problems after
                           singing a canon with someone.

                           Much has been published about therapeutic work with the voice. In the
                           following section I will focus on those issues that I believe are most sig-
                           nificant for my work with these patients. I will complement these issues
                           with fitting citations.

1. SINGING DEVELOPS        Some songs are simple, others unusual, for example very old melodies
                           from the Middle Ages (e.g. ”Maienzeit bannet Leid”). I sing the unusual
                           songs in short sections first, until all have entered this musical world.
                           Exact intonation and phrasing or rhythmical accentuation exercise the
                           perception of people with disturbed perception or with increased intro-
                           spection. Hereby, this ”exercising” is without orders and actually is fun.

                                ”Perhaps no other activity (such as singing) is so healing… The
                               all inclusive discipline of rhythm and pitch develops the feeling
                               for coherence and solidarity” Menuhin

2. SINGING INCREASES       After we have practiced a song or canon and gone into the two and three-
                           part I demand that the patients do not hold their ears closed, a favored
                           practice from school, but to keep their ears open, to listen to the other
                           voices, the resulting intervals and the resulting chords and to enjoy it,
                           even though it may seem difficult at first. When a three-part canon is first
                           practiced in changing two-part groups and one group has the opportunity
                           to listen, the perception is also trained, listening is practiced. Slow tem-
                           pos are good to practice listening, as are small intervals and chord exer-
                           cises, or to sing for someone first. The ”a-ha” experience when it works
                           and sounds good is always a big one. This trains intra- and interpersonal

                            Therapeutic dimensions and aspects of singing in the day clinic        924
 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           perception. Success is apparent when everyone can listen to each other,
                           be involved with the other, but hold their own part.

                               ” Singing develops as it unfolds from listening with attention. In
                               singing we refine our ability to really listen to people and to the
                               world surrounding us.” Menuhin

3. SINGING DEVELOPS        Depending on the quality of the song, various social reactions can be
                           observed. An emotional song leads to a warm, loving atmosphere that
                           often leads to pleasant contacts and talks between the patients. A stronger
                           song brings the group into movement. After we once had finished a song
                           with gusto, the whole group came over to me, as if planned, and lay their
                           songbooks in my arms with eye contact full of smiles. I was surprised by
                           so much direct contact, normally they just leave the song books on a

                           The patients experience a direct pull in social interaction, they develop
                           basic social competencies which may have been lost through illness. At
                           the same time they experience togetherness in action instead of hierarchy.
                           Communal singing and breathing creates an internal sense of connected-
                           ness. After singing there is much more contact and conversations.

                                ”When one person sings out of his soul,
                               He will heal his inner world.
                               When all sing out their souls And are one with the music,
                               They will as well heal the outer world.”            Menuhin

4. SINGING AFFECTS         Breath is not only the basis of singing but also the basis of emotional life.
                           A disturbed breath for whatever reason disturbs emotional experience.
                           Singing is a deep body process, and the body is my instrument. Singing
                           fills every thread of my body. And through this, the required breath links
                           my body with the world.

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 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           My bodily condition is reflected in my voice, everyone knows this. I
                           often explain to the patients that a major part of singing, like sport, can be
                           trained. Many, in particularly the younger patients have experienced
                           sport and easily understand and accept this comparison. People with
                           emotional illness are always not fully incarnated – or connected with
                           their body. When the body is in balance, the soul is also in balance and
                           vice versa. All body therapies are therefore helpful for emotional disor-
                           ders. Singing works both physically and emotionally, and through this we
                           come closer to the term ”holistic” in therapy.

                               ”Perhaps, no other activity is as healing as singing is, because it
                               requires our whole movement apparatus – breath and blood circu-
                               lation, lungs and heart.” Menuhin

5. SINGING LEADS INTO      In former times, there were no important events in the life of a person
                           that were not accompanied by music and song. Songs, particularly tradi-
                           tional songs were sung often. All emotions of life were included, joy at a
                           wedding, sadness at a burial, a lullaby at night, love songs and so on. In
                           this way, all emotions of human life rang out in song, the variety of the
                           internal world of emotions became expressed.

                           I begin Open Singing with one or two well-known songs to invite, warm-
                           up and arrive. Then I ask if anyone has a favorite song. The various
                           patients’ wishes comprise a wide range of songs, from their own emo-
                           tional world. The range of emotions is, in turn, a possibility to recognize
                           one’s own emotional world. The facets of emotional experience are simi-
                           lar to taking a walk through the most diverse and deep human emotional
                           states and touch each individual person with their own themes and prob-
                           lems. Through the experiences and forms, blockages and hardness are
                           touched, feelings are re-discovered and the emotional flexibility of the
                           soul and the heart is expanded. Sometimes patients are overwhelmed by
                           feelings suppressed and dried-up for a long time, may cry a little or go

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                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           outside, smoke a cigarette or look for a conversation. The next time, they
                           may be a step further, and may sing along for a song, or at least manage
                           to cope with the situation.

                           In this manner, everyone experiences during their stay, not only the diver-
                           sity of other emotional worlds, but the various emotional worlds in them-
                           selves. This leads to more self-knowledge and more social tolerance.

                               ”Teach your soul to sing.
                               Each state has its songs.
                               May singing be with you in all you do
                               Love this singing and watch over it.”            Arvo Pärt

6. SINGING MAKES IT        Many of the patients come with ego structure disorders, commonly
EXPERIENCE LIVING          beginning in their childhood. Daily structure, day and night rhythm, and
                           body rhythms are often disturbed, they are not able to form their every-
                           day life. A given song offers a structure in the form of support and orien-
                           tation. It is not a fixed unchanging structure, but a living one. The melody
                           is given, but we can sing it as a two-part or canon. We change pitch,
                           tempo or dynamics. Some verses have a different text structure or the
                           accompaniment changes. One can hold on without being fixed, it is pos-
                           sible to stay in movement.

                                “The Rhythm of music, proportions and movement in all other
                               arts grant stability, a sense of purpose and consistency in our
                               daily life. Without these guarantees, life would be chaos; it would
                               seem senseless and with no reason to the individuum, confused
                               by noise and chaos.” Menuhin

7. SINGING MAKES THE       Everyone who has been on a psychiatric ward knows the paralyzing,
ACCESSIBLE                 mostly somber, joyless atmosphere that commonly characterizes these
                           wards. Singing, regardless how quiet and unimpressive it may be,
                           changes this atmosphere. The patients experience, while singing, that
                           even though there is much internal joylessness and heaviness, there is a

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                           spark of the joy of life. They can feel this once again and gather hope that
                           this joy can and is allowed to grow. I use every chance that a song or sit-
                           uation offers to say something humorous. And in fact, fun songs are
                           repeatedly chosen. I often tend towards comic effects, by emphasizing
                           some expressions, or make jokes at my own cost, for example in the
                           desert canon "Sum gali gali" I am very intense with the portrayal of the
                           camel… This is when the last start to laugh or at least begin to grin.
                           Through the concentration on the music, we repeatedly experience life
                           energy, and the joy of life.

                               "I praise music,
                               As it frees people
                               from the heaviness of things and
                               connects the individual within
                               the community"
                               St.. Augustine

8. SINGING                 Through singing, patients come in direct contact with themselves, with
PERSONALITY                their "Self" or ego personality. Many are ashamed, and don't want to hear
                           their voices, are shocked by their own voice and hide themselves in the
                           sound of the choir. Through the shared musical work they manage to
                           overcome this. They feel themselves grow within the community and
                           grow in their ability and possibilities. Suddenly the difficult passage is
                           managed, or one manages to stay in a shared rhythm.

                           Through singing, patients come into contact with aspects of their person-
                           ality, in their own form of reacting within the world. Those habits and
                           behavior patterns that have developed in their biographical experience
                           are reflected in their singing and in contact with the therapist. Sometimes,
                           I sing the melodies a little differently than they are transcribed. If I do not
                           mention this at the outset there is often loud protest. "You are doing

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 Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           something wrong there!" I take it with humor and cite the "artistic free-
                           dom" or we try various possibilities so that we can decide upon a final
                           version together.

                               “In those who do not love,
                               music banishes all hatred.
                               To the restless one it gives peace,
                               And the crying will be consoled.
                               Those who don´t know how to proceed
                               Will find a new path,
                               And for those who reject everything
                               A new certainty and hope will grow.”
                               Pablo Casals

 9. SINGING TO             Singing touches the "Self" of a person, understood as his or her most
”SELF”                     internal being, which lives, forms and also suffers; this Self that stands as
                           a unique individual in front of me, this individual that must accept that it
                           is ill, and does not manage its life; this deepest core of the person
                           expresses itself through singing.

                                “Singing is a direct expression of the self, that lives at the same
                               time in its emotional and mental aspects as well as in its physical
                               and vocal organism. Singing is one of our most integrated activi-
                               ties, at the same time a most revealing and expressive act.” Paul

                           This Self that initially says, I cannot sing, and such a difficult song too,
                           this Self begins gently to move and express. It experiences in singing a "I
                           can", "I can sing, I can create form, I can change something, move some-
                           thing, I can sing together with others. I can even stand up and raise my
                           voice before others, I can!"

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                                                                 able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                           Mrs. M. discovered singing for herself. It was her element. She used
                           every chance to work and try out solo parts. In individual therapy she had
                           the wish to sing "O happy day". It was her song. She bonded so strongly
                           with the song that she found her own individual expression. In open sing-
                           ing she presented her song and the group sung the repeating chorus.
                           Through this she attained a range of freedom in musical expression with
                           an almost stage-ready performance. Everyone was delighted. Often the
                           patients are surprised about their inner growth through contact with
                           music, with the experience of the "you" and the community.

10. SINGING INCREASES      According to the strength and security of a group, the tasks increase in
                           difficulty. We even managed an eight-part canon once! A second voice is
                           initially sung by three or four stronger voices. Then all the other voices
                           have to concentrate on the first part. For some, this is a challenging task.
                           Things that don’t function are practiced again, no one is evaluated as
                           right or wrong, behaviour and person are not, as often experienced,
                           unfortunately linked to each other. In contrast, an unconditional "yes" to
                           a person with their errors is experienced. Errors are allowed, I make
                           errors too – and often more audible ones! Errors are not negatively
                           judged, but are accepted as part of practice better and repeatedly take us
                           closer to the musical expression. It is a healing atmosphere, when errors
                           are accepted; the inner tension of avoiding mistakes can be released.
                           Through this, I can be free to become involved with something and to
                           focus my willpower on one aim. My inner strength does not get lost in
                           the group, but is important for the success of the songs.

11. THE INNER SOURCE       The surprise and joy, when after repeated hard work, a canon unexpect-
                           edly comes together and also even sounds good, is often large. Through
                           experiencing a musical figure or form we experience "beauty", whole-
                           ness, and maybe a feeling of being healed. I experience musical-artistic

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Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. avail-
                                                                able at http://musictherapyworld.net

                          activity as a dimension of human existence, which extends over daily life
                          and opens artistic and spiritual experiences in life. These experiences can
                          reactivate inner resources that have been buried and unused, and also
                          address and answer the question of sense, particularly with psychiatric
                          patients. The state of being touched or moved through beauty in music,
                          the experience of music as art can be a direct experience of music as a
                          path, a bridge into the spiritual world.

                              “God honors me,
                              When I work,
                              But loves me,
                              When I sing.”

                          Singing has many aspects and has been widely discussed and researched
                          in terms of its effects on people and on a community. Singing has found
                          various forms in therapeutic work. To discuss both would have been out-
                          side the scope of this presentation.

                          ….just sing!

                          This article can be cited as:
                          Boymanns, B. (2006) Just sing…Music Therapy Today (Online 22nd
                          December) Vol.VII (4) 913-931. available at http://musictherapy-

                          Summary                                                                931

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