Blog #17: 音樂創作喚醒潛能 Empowerment through music creation.
究竟這個字 「充權」(Empower) 是什麼意思? 我覺得這個英文字是其中一個最難翻譯的一個心理學常用字. 有人會將翻譯為 ”充權" 自強” “自力”, 但好像在香港 “empower” 的概念也不太常使用. 「充權」這個這個字在中文上好像怪怪的.
Empower 這個字經常在音樂治療和社區服務界的文章裏面出現, 它的含意包括-建立一個人的身份, 自我價值觀, 自信心, 協助個人去了解和運用內在外在長處, 潛能和資源 ( 特別是那些在社會上缺乏權力的弱勢組群, 但我相信所有人在生命裏面特定的時刻也需要被empowered). 因為這個字在不同的範疇和專業上有一些不同的定義, 所以這篇文章提及的充權 (empower) 是本人對於一般人和音樂治療服務使用者的一些想法和empowerment 的基本定義.
Disney 的陳年舊片 小飛象 (Dumbo) 和 Dreamworks 功夫熊貓 (Kung-Fu Panda) 能夠作為一個很好的比喻幫助我們去明白什麼是 ‘Empowerment’. 其實大部份的 Disney (Mulan, Moana, Brave etc) 也是講述一個主角尋找自我的旅程, 這些「自我」(True Self) 元素可能因為外在因素被埋藏了, 最終這些主角經歷和克服了風霜雨雪,終於能夠活出真我, 對自己和身邊的群體有正面的影響.
小飛象(Dumbo), 一隻馬戲團的大笨象, 有一對與眾不同的大耳朵,從小被人嘲笑. 有一天, 錯誤地喝醉了而醒在高樹上. 正當他一臉茫然的時候, 在樹上的烏鴉跟他說他是飛上來的, 起初他當然不相信, 但經過老鼠和烏鴉朋友一番勸勉和鼓勵, 成功說服他能夠利用一支「神奇羽毛」去飛. 第一次飛行成功後, 他有自信在馬戲團演出. 在第二次的飛行途中, 他弄丟了「神奇羽毛」, 在驚恐下, 發狂拍打大耳朵而令到他在最後一刻飛起了. 他終於醒悟烏鴉對他說的話-他真的能夠飛! 那「神奇羽毛」只是一個觸摸得到的外在象徵標誌 (symbol) 令小飛象可以對自己的潛能有信心.
功夫熊貓有一個更加精巧的故事劇情去探索人的自我身份 (identity) 和自我價值觀 (self-value).
一隻肥肥的熊貓, 貌似有一個不切實際的夢想去立志成為武林高手. 有一天不知情地出現在一個功夫選拔擂臺上, 被選為「神龍大俠」而接受一段辛苦艱難的功夫培訓. 師傅當初也對烏龜大師的決定十分愕然, 否定熊貓的能力. 但當它被烏龜大師智者的金句啟發了後, 以及在一次意外中 (當熊貓在廚房偷偷地, 身手敏捷地偷食物的時候)發現熊貓自己也沒有為意的潛能, 師傅決定投資在這熊貓身上, 助他走上這條成為「神龍大俠」的路上. 而熊貓也經過和克服了一段辛苦艱難的身心靈障礙, 他終於能夠堅信自己的潛能.
這兩個卡通人物也是被身邊的朋友 ‘empowered’, 身邊的人目擊過他們在不知情底下展示的潛能,相信以及加籲鼓勵, 投資能力在他們身上.
現在我們轉換一下環境, 從馬戲團和中國的武林山上, 到一間精神康復中途宿舍, 這裏有一班有不同背景的服務使用者, 一班可能被視為缺乏權力的弱勢組群, 這班人可能已經覺得夢想已經是一些不值得去追求或不切實際的東西, 他們需要一些願意給他們機會去發揮自己的創造力, 潛能和發揮一些他們可能埋藏了的「寶藏」.
想像一間房間裏面的桌上布滿了創作電子音樂的電子合成器, midi控制器和錄音器材. 這裏是音樂治療小組, 利用歌曲創作和電子音樂作為介入模式. 這個小組由一班喜歡音樂的服務使用者造成, 他們大部份也沒有任何音樂經驗. 很多自我否定的聲音飄浮在空中-「唔掂, 唔知點玩, 唔識, 冇可能」. 但只需要一人的信念, 這些人就能跨過這些心理障礙而釋放潛能.
所以我們開始了好像小飛象的飛行歷程. 這個小組開始構思歌詞的概念, 每一個人開始將單字和句子拋到白板上. 將這些凌散的字句拼拼貼貼, 漸漸地開始描繪出他們的人生歷程. 這首歌的第一節歌詞已經完成. 在之後的幾節, 小組繼續共同合作去完成第二節和副歌歌詞. 第一階段的音樂創作成功完成, 因為廣東話的發音調性, 當歌詞和句子出現了的時候, 旋律也會自然地流露出來. 小組組員對自己的自信心漸漸地加強了, 我們就繼續進行下一個階段的創作.
第二階段的創作包括音樂編曲和錄音. 這個階段就是發揮電子音樂的好玩之處. 音樂編曲其實是音樂創作的精粹, 所有的情緒和故事表達都是在編曲裏流露出來. 就像是電影的配樂裏面, 利用音樂元素能夠表達出一些言語不能形容的感受, 用音樂去敘述故事.
小組組員興奮地去嘗試不同的midi控制器, 所有想像到的聲音也可以在這裏找到. 大部份人說他們常常在音樂裏面聽到這些電子音樂的聲音, 但這次是一個驚喜令他們可以首次接觸這些器材去製造一些在電子音樂世界裏面耳熟能詳的聲音.
有一個吹口琴的參加者, 起初他對音樂製作有點抗拒 “我唔係好識架”. 在整個創作過程當中,看到他的自信心不斷地增加. 由開頭只是吹奏主旋律, 到最後他能夠親自創作並自信地吹奏出八個小節的純音樂前奏和過門.
將兩個不同的極端態度融合就能作出這個改變- 一個參加者的 “我唔得” 配合治療師對他的信心 “我相信你可以”. 相信一個人是一個動作, 是一個持有信念的人對他相信的人一個時間, 精力, 力量, 資源投資. 就好像師傅在功夫熊貓裏面所說:
我們不是嘗試製造出一個幻象, 給參加者以為他們能在短期時間裏面變成一個音樂人. 我們只是在製造機會給參加者去經歷能夠一手一腳地去製作出一樣令他們自豪, 而且又能夠令其他人欣賞而產生共鳴的東西, 在過程當中用這個機會去將自己可能埋藏了很久的心聲, 和可能埋藏了很久的技能流露出來, 並找回自己的自信心和加強自我價值觀.
雖然和小飛象故事的先後次序有點出入(小飛象拿了神奇羽毛才去試飛), 但我覺得音樂創作過程好像是一個試飛過程, 給參加者在當中嘗試運用自己所有的潛能和技能去進行創作,而最後完成的音樂錄音或許可以是一支「神奇羽毛」, 給參加者一個聽得到的外在象徵標誌 (symbol), 日後可以聽回自己創作的音樂, 回憶起當日他們曾經飛過的時候, 對自己的潛能有信心, 而這個自信心可以運用到不同的日常生活中.
好像在小飛象裏面的老鼠和烏鴉朋友 , 功夫熊貓裏的師傅和烏龜大師, 身為音樂治療師, 我們能夠去找出那些先天或後天擁有與眾不同特徵的人士; 或是那些擁有特別的技能或夢想但是因為不同的原因那些潛能被埋藏了; 又或是那些失去了希望或夢想的人士, 我們可以「投資」能力在他們身上, 協助他們去辨識及重新「認領」他們內在已存在的能力和潛能. 這就是「充權」(Empowerment).
What exactly does it mean to ‘empower’ someone? The word empower seems to be a word often used in the music therapy literature, but the concept seems to be rather vague. Google dictionary defines empower as “make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights; give (someone) the authority or power to do something.”
The word empower seems to carry slightly different definition and meaning in different profession, therefore the concept of empowerment mentioned in this article is based on a general definition towards any individuals and music therapy clients.
From a music therapy perspective, empowerment refers to building up someone’s identity, self-esteem, self-confidence. Helping an individual recognizing and utilizing the strength, potentials and resources they have inside of them. (The term are usually used for those individual in any marginalized groups in society, but I believe everybody needs to be empowered in certain stage in our lives).
One of the best metaphor to illustrate the concept of empowerment is found in the Disney film Dumbo and Kung-Fu Panda, well in fact a lot of other Disney and Dreamworks film like Mulan, Moana, Brave etc are on the theme of a character on a journey finding their true Self that might have been hidden or being buried in the ground because of the potential risk of society rejecting these traits, and in the end after conquering all the obstacles able to fully live out who they are (or more than who they are in Dumbo and Kung Fun Panda’s case) for the benefit of themselves and the community around them.
Dumbo, a circus elephant who was born with unusually large ears causing him to be bullied by others. One day after accidently being drunk and ended up waking up on a tall tree, he was puzzled how he ended up there. Despite his unbelief, the crow nearby assured him that he flew up the tree the night before. With the help of a friend-the rat and the group of crow, they were able to boost up his confidence by giving him a ‘magic feather’, convincing him that he can fly again and off he goes. During a circus performance, with the ‘magic feather’ in his trunk and his head up high, he was ready for the stunt. On his way down, he lost the feather, out of his panic mode he kept flapping his ear and started flying just before hitting the ground. He finally realized what the crow said was true-he can fly. The magic feather was just an external object acting as a tangible symbol for Dumbo to have faith in his own innate potentials.
Kung Fu panda has a more elaborate plot that explore the theme of identity- A fat panda who dream of a seemingly unattainable dream of becoming a Kung-Fu master. Accidently found himself to be in a Kung-Fu audition arena and being selected as the ‘Dragon Warrior’ by the Master Oogyway. The whole world was in utter shock with the decision despite of the Master Oogway golden word ‘There are no accidents.’ Shifu (the one who’s responsible for training) originally was in dismay about the panda’s ability, but after being enlightened by the Master Oogway’s wisdom as well as witnessing the panda’s potential kung-fu ability during an ‘accident’ while he’s ‘hunting’ for food, Shifu was determined to invest and empower the panda to walk in his ‘destiny’.
Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours, until you let go of the illusion of control.
Oogway: Yes. Look at this tree, Shifu. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me, nor make it bear fruit before it's time.
Shifu: But there are things we can control. I can control when the fruit will fall. And I can control......Where to plant the seed. That is no illusion, Master.
Oogway: Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Shifu: But a peach cannot defeat Tai Lung!
Oogway: Maybe it can.....If you are willing to guide it, to nurture it. To believe in it. After going through all those physical, mental, psychological obstacles, Po (the panda) was able to finally come to term and recognizing his potentials, saving his village from destruction.
Both of the characters have been empowered by external forces-people who have witness their hidden potentials manifested during an ‘accident’, believed and invested further with power into their lives, enabling and stretching the individuals to achieve more than they think they can.
Let us transition from the circus and the mountain top of China to a mental health half way house, with a group of clients with a variety of diagnostic background including depression, schizophrenia, ex-drugs user and ex-offenders. This is a group of marginalized individuals who also perceive their dreams as unreachable and unrealistic. Yet if you are willing to give them an opportunity for mastery, they will be able to tap into their creative potentials and find out their buried treasures.
Visualize a table with an array of midi controllers, synthesizer and recording equipments scattered across, connected with a laptop. This is beginning of a series of music therapy using song writing and electronic music technology as an intervention.
At day 1, this is a group of people who loves music but most have never put their hands on music instruments let alone electronic music equipments. A lot of self-denial voices were floating around the room- ‘do not, cannot, might not, would not. All it takes is someone to believe in them, helping them to break through that mental barrier to release all the hidden potentials.
And so we began the journey of 'flying'. The group started brainstorming ideas for a song, everybody began to throw some words and phrases out onto the white board. Gradually words emerging in front of us that paint a picture of the recovery journey these individuals have gone through. With some shuffling of these word puzzle pieces on the board, a rough draft of verse 1 of the song was completed.
In the next few sessions, the group has continued collaboratively to complete the second verse and chorus. First stage of the songwriting process was successfully completed. And thanks to the tonal nature of Cantonese, once the words and sentence structure is out, the melody would naturally flow out as well.
The group gained some confidence of their ability to contribute to the music and we proceeded to the next stage.
Stage two & three involved arrangement and recording of a song. This is where electronic music technology kicks in. Music arrangement is actually the essence of the songwriting process where emotions are conveyed and different musical elements can be used to create a musical narrative just like a soundtrack to the lyrics.
The clients excitedly trying out different midi controllers that are capable to create any sounds they can ever imagined. Most have commented that they've heard many electronic music before but it's such a surprise and an eye opener for them to put their hands on these to create the sound they are familiar with for the very first time.
A client who can play harmonica was keen to contribute to the recording. At first he was reluctant “I don't know how to play well”, throughout the process he transitioned from playing just the melody of the song to creating an original 8 bars instrumental introduction and bridge section within the song and he was able to play it confidently.
It all began with the fusing of the two opposites- “I cannot do this!” matching with a therapist's faith “I believe you can certainly do this, and I'm here if you need any support”. Believing in someone is an action, it is an investment of the believer's time, energy, resources and power onto the recipient. Just like Shifu in Kung-Fu Panda said “If you are willing to guide it, to nurture it. To believe in it.”
We are not trying to create an illusion for the clients that they can become a musician over a short period of time. We are simply creating opportunities for clients to experience the sense of mastery as well as improving self-esteem and self-confidence through their own music creation, believing that they are capable of creating something aesthetic that can be appreciated by others and potentially influencing other with the lyrics of the song, expressing their voices that might have been yearning to be heard.
Even thought the order of incidents are different from 'Dumbo' (Dumbo received the 'magic feather' first before attempting to fly), I reckon the music creation experience is like a 'flying trial', giving participants opportunities to explore all the innate potentials and skills in order to make music, whereas the final recording is like a 'magic feather', giving them an audible symbol to remind them in the future of the experience where they learned and were able to fly, reminding them of their potentials and giving them self-confidence that can be executed in everyday living.
This is the power of empowerment:
Just like the rat and the crow in Dumbo, master Shifu and Oogway in Kung-Fu Panda, our role as a music therapist is to seek out those who have been born or acquire with unusual or unique physical, mental and psychological features; or those with unique features, skills and passion that have been hidden and abandoned due to various reasons; or those that have lost hope and dreams, we then invest them with power to recognize and connect to their inherent power and potential within them.