Outside of my experience

Posted: February 16, 2011 in Music Therapy

First of all…post number 50!  Whoo hoo!  Now to business.

I just started working with a guy in music therapy.  He’s 20 years old and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s.  He’s in music therapy for some development of social skills, particularly for interactions with others.  This guy is unlike anyone I have ever worked with in one aspect – he’s already a musician.  He’s been taking piano lessons for 12 years, composes, and is even taking courses to try to get a music degree.  I heard some of his compositions yesterday – pretty good.

This relationship is going to open up a whole world that is completely outside of my experience.  For my entire career, I’ve been working with either lower functioning individuals, or high functioning individuals with no musical training.  I’ve kind of developed a style that works well with those populations.  Now I have an actual musician coming to therapy who has no interest in rock or folk music, which kind of form the main basis of my repertoire.  I’m not going to be able to fall back on the techniques I’ve been using since college.  It’s a whole new deal.

I’ve been thinking about some approaches I can take.  One of the things I want to do is some improvisation.  He’s very good on the piano, so I want to use that to encourage interaction.  When he talks, he tends to just go and go without taking a breath and without letting others talk.  Hopefully, we can use the improv to help him learn to listen more.  I’d also like to do some lyric analysis – one of the things he’s mentioned is that he has trouble interpreting the meaning behind what people are saying, particularly when they’re joking.  I’m really looking forward to doing lyric analysis on a Weird Al song with him for some humor training.  Overall, I think lyric analysis will help him to look at subtext.  We’re also going to work on increasing his confidence.  During our assessment, he was really nervous about doing a vocal improvisation and ended up repeating the same lines over and over.  Therefore, we’re going to do some structured songwriting and hopefully lead into doing some vocal improvisations.

These are my ideas.  And as I look over them, I realize it’s stuff that I do with other people.  But the goals are so very different than my typical goals.  I’m really looking forward to working with him – I think we both will be able to learn a lot from each other.  Thanks for reading!


  1. Helen says:

    So what songs are you going to use? For your purposes, I’m thinking that “Good Enough For Now” (a Weird Al original in country-music ballad style) might work well, since it derives most of its humor from deliberately violating the lyrical expectations of the love ballad genre. His “twisted love songs” in general are a pretty fruitful field.

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