Greetings from Spring Break!
I’ve been traveling around a lot–and unfortunately have not had reliable access to internet. At any rate, this week for the Song of the Week, I chose House of Gold, by twenty one pilots! It’s a fun and catchy tune that has deeper meaning upon further reflection.
I chose this song for a lot of reasons. It was shared with me initially by my professor who also introduced me to twenty one pilot’s whole album, “Vessel.” Some of the other songs on the album touch on mental illness–Car Radio, for example. House of Gold is has an optimistic promise, “Cure you of disease.”
I think that it’s important to acknowledge that mental illness isn’t logical, it isn’t easily “cured” by pills, or treatment, or a “new mindset.” There really isn’t a magical, “cure” at all. Rather, there are strategies and coping mechanisms that can be implemented in conjunction with pills and treatment to work towards a better quality of life.
“House of Gold” as a song holds promise, through the choices for instrumentation and orchestration (ukulele, and piano), and in the words, as well. “Ever after happily,” “Will you take care of me?” and the idea of an actual “house of gold.”
I think that a good place to start would be with a lyric discussion of the song. I think I have said this in a previous post, but I will say it again: Lyric discussions are like suitcases. You start off with the song (a suitcase), and throughout the discussion you will begin to unpack that song, bit by bit, piece by piece. I like to start by making a spider graph of what themes are within the song. That will also be a nice cheat sheet for you in session to help keep focus.
But other than a lyric discussion, I think that you could briefly touch on what a, “House of Gold,” is. Be ready for lots of different answers! And remember, there is no “right” answer, necessarily. Ask the client(s) who in their life would be their “son” to build the house of gold? Or maybe how they themselves would build their own house of gold? Is their house of gold a place? Is it a person? A place? An ideal? Talk it out.
If you would rather have your clients do some internal work before discussing with their peers, you can always use a mandala. A Mandala is usually a circle where one focuses on an intention, usually by drawing or depicting that intention through meditation (Mandala patterns are easy to create if you have a tiny drum–just trace it on a piece of paper and copy it!). The intention could be, “house of gold,” or abstracted simply to, “What makes you happy?” So, play the song on repeat, provide a writing utensil or coloring supplies if you have access to them, and allow the clients to meditate on their house of gold, or what they want to be cured of, or who their “son” is who will care for them.
If your facility does not allow writing utensils (because it is a secure unit, etc), you could create a musical mandala. First, choose which instruments would be a part of your “mandala” and place them inside the circle of your group. Allow clients to choose instruments, and then create rhythms to symbolize each client’s, “house of gold.” Start either an improvisational drum circle, or pre-compose it allowing the group to make choices to determine the experience. Let the drumming experience go on organically–see how it progresses. Idyllically, the experience will ebb and flow like an organism. Ask your clients to explain it in their own words, what they noticed, etc. Use that as a starting point for a great discussion about how the houses of gold turned in to a neighborhood of gold–make connections between group members, remind them that they have external support from a therapeutic team, or their group members, or family, friends, etc. Relate the experience to goals you are addressing, and work towards group cohesion.
My challenge for you all is to create a mandala of your house of gold! Grab a plate or a drum, create a circle for your mandala, and fill it in with your own interpretation of what you want to be cured of, where your house of gold is, or who your house of gold is–or any other interpretation that you may have!
Feel free to comment here with your mandala, or share it on our facebook page “Music Therapy Repertoire Challenge” or tweet us a pic @mtrchallenge! We would love to see them! 🙂 Until next time!