I mentioned last week that a student had told me they used the song “Unbreakable” by Fireflight to relax and focus.Â Now, no matter what you feel about the music, the lyrics are energizing at the very least:
“Now I am unbreakable, it’s unmistakable
No one can touch me
Nothing can stop me”
Now, picture this same student as one who, when I first met them, requested we listen to the song “I don’t care” by Apocolyptica (featuring Adam Gontier, lead singer of Three Days Grace).Â That chorus reads:
“If you were dead or still alive,
I don’t care – I don’t care,
And all the things you left behind,
I don’t care – I don’t care”
Those words aren’t so uplifting, but reverse the order in which each of those song’s chorus lyrics were presented to you, put them in progression with each other as this student did in the “Mash-up” activity I’ll describe in more detail below and you’ve got a totally different, new message:
“All the things you left behind,
I don’t care – I don’t care,
Now I am unbreakable, it’s unmistakable”
Cool, huh?Â Looking at those lyrics together, you get a sense of the person who requested them, and why they might have chosen to put them together.Â “Mashing up,” or cutting-and-pasting existing songs back to back or on top of each other, based on how well their lyrics and musical styles fit has been the subject of a new project of mine at a variety of locations, predominantly with teenagers who are emotionally disturbed, have suffered abuse, or have criminal records.Â As I’ve gotten to know the music they choose to listen to and enjoy, I’ve gotten to know them.
First, I ask them to tell me what kinds of songs they like.Â We listen to them in their entirety, which can often take weeks depending on how many songs students share, discuss what we think the lyrics mean, what the artists’ intent may have been, and how the music reflects the lyrics and vice versa.
Second, after all the listening is done and each member of the group has had a chance to contribute at least one song to the list, we start choosing which songs we think will go well together, again based on their lyrics and style of music.Â Apocolyptica and Fireflight have very similar musical styles and their subject matter fit well together – other songs selected by the peers of the student who chose those first two were Puke by Eminem, Bounce by Timbaland (both very different musical style and lyrics for sure, but the tempos matched almost perfectly) and Airplanes by B.O.B.Â Each of those songs has merits in their own right and is worth looking up on Youtube or downloading on Itunes, but when put together they take on new meaning, not to mention that the process of putting them together is an excellent experience in team building and appropriate social interaction.Â That’s the final step.
Third, and lastly, each group I did this with used the Free Version of WavePad Audio that can be downloaded here. From there, we would divvy up which student would take responsibility for which song, so in the group that did the mix including those songs above, some students had to share one song with another student.Â Each team would choose what part of their song we would use, and then be responsible for editing it in the WavePad software.Â They would trim the piece to its desired length, then make sure it transitioned well from the piece before it, asking feedback from the group after each edit, as I told them the finished product needed to be something everyone was happy with.Â The end result was a pretty cool little mix of songs reflecting each student’s unique personality and tastes in a master work they collaborated to create.Â (I would include it here if the sounds of Eminem puking at the start of the track weren’t such turn-offs for most weak stomachs!)Â Now, this is no easy feat for some of these kids to accomplish.Â Social skills like those required to handle another peer’s constructive criticism and learning to offer your own are built out of practice, something many of these kids don’t have the opportunity to do in a safe environment.Â The experience of music making in this activity offers them that.Â Plus it’s just plain fun!Â Their assignment for next week is to think of two songs that we could stack on top of each other using another Free Audio Editing Software called Audacity, which you can find here. The idea is for them to come up with something like this Mashup of Man of Constant Sorrow and Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl, which I credit my Internship Director for showing me in Georgia during my time there – very cool!
Want to find more mashups?Â Check out Mash-Up Breakdown.com, where you can find visual representations of the 300+ songs used in the DJ Girl Talk’s album All Day.Â The page shows you a bubble of each song being sampled as it goes by in every track, each of which are combinations from various genres and styles of music all chosen to fit together by tempo.Â Be warned that there is profanity in just about all of them, so if you’re looking to avoid that, some good tracks to listen to are 5, 9, and 11 (all of those are clean for the first 2 minutes).Â Now I have no idea how much time it takes to put something like that together (and I have no intention of finding out) but the outcome is pretty amazing and fun to aspire to in the little mixes my classes and I have been putting together.
Next week on MusicMoves we’ll take a look at Early Childhood and some fun songs and activities for that population – in the meantime, new events highlighted below have been added to the Community Page, now titled “Music Therapy in North Dakota:”
In Grand Forks
FREE Sessions at the LISTEN Drop-In Center continue with Natasha Wednesdays, at 5pm (Elementary), and 5:30 (Prek/Family).
NEW Music and Me at UND (formerly known as MusikTanz) classes are going to begin Monday, Jan 24th.Â There will be classes for infants 1-12 mo, 12 mo- 3 yrs and 3yrs to 5 yrs. For more information call UND Music Dept or call Emily Wangen at (218)-791-0908 (see below or on the Community page itself if number doesn’t show up here).Â To register for classes go to musictherapyinmotion.com and download the enrollment forms under the side bar named UND Childrenâ€™s Music and Me at UND Classes.
Emily Wangen is also available for private Music Therapy services in Grand Forks (including a jam session for students with special needs for those interested in forming one!) and to cofacilitate ABA and Music Therapy together.
For Adults (Children Welcome)
FREE Drum Circle for the month of January is coming up!Â Saturday, January 29th, 7pm at 12Houses
NEW EVENT LISTED: LISTEN Drop-In Choir, an inclusive group of Adults from ALL walks of life and ability, led by Natasha, is currently preparing for their Valentineâ€™s Day Show!Â Meets Wednesday nights at 6:30, 624 N. Washington.
In Fargo – ALL NEW INFORMATION!
A full time music therapist is available in Fargo for private music therapy and modified/adaptive music lessons for individuals with special needs.Â She is available for consultation and is willing to travel to rural areas to provide MT services.Â For more information contact Emily Wangen at (218)-791-0908.
â€¦and beyond (also new)!
Music Therapy is also on the rise in Bismarck!Â Natasha is currently in the process of developing a group there for children on the Autism Spectrum.Â Updates that and other MT events and groups opening up statewide coming soon!
Check the community page often for more updates on new events as they become available – Maybe you’ll find one YOU want to check out!