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Reinforcing Healthy Friendships Through Song Rewriting

Throughout the 2022-23 school year, I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work with multiple classes in the Jackson-Madison County school system. While many goals are addressed in music therapy sessions, I would like to highlight the goals of increasing self-expression and reinforcing healthy friendships in this post. As students go through school, it is so important to discuss what good and bad friendships look like so they know how to cultivate healthy, lifelong friendships with their peers. Through the intervention of songwriting, I worked with multiple classes to re-write Bruno Mars’ “Count on Me” to describe what they believe healthy and positive friendships look like. As students shared how good friends act, when they need support from their friends, and how they can support their friends, I led them through conversation to expand on their thoughts. By putting these thoughts into song form, the students can more easily remember what was discussed when they sing their song. Below are the song re-writes two of my classes put together.

“When I’m with my friends, it’s good to stand up for them And be nice, and spend time with them. When I’m with my friends it’s nice to play together, And share with them, and teach them

If you’re happy or you’re sad and you just can’t hold it in, Your friends will be nice, beside you. And if you ever feel sick to your stomach, You friends will remind you.”

“When I’m with my friends, it’s good to be nice And be there for them, and be kind. When I’m with my friends it’s nice to listen to them And make them laugh, and play games with them.

If you’re feeling sad and alone and you can’t let it all out, Your friends will be happy beside you. And if you ever feel like you need to calm down, Your friends will remind you.”

As the song was written, I gave each student the opportunity to write a line in the song. Several students helped their peers think of ideas and decide on exactly how they wanted to incorporate it into the song. After the song was finalized, classes recorded their song. Each student recorded their own vocals and instrumentation while accompanied by me on the guitar. As their peers were recording, each student drew cover art for the song to reflect the meaning behind their lyrics and encouraged their peers by being quiet as they recorded and clapping when they finished. I am so proud of the work they put into this project!

The recording project done by one class during several sessions of writing, singing, and playing instruments.

Art created by the class heard in the recording above.

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