“Everything Changed When I Got Those Drums”: A Collaborative Case Reflection

Malakai (the client) describes a love of drumming and played on pots and pans and listening to music as often as possible. Malakai was staying at a family refuge violence center with his mother after they escaped domestic violence. He began music therapy after his family found more permanent housing. Initially he was hesitant about starting music therapy, but was open to the idea when he saw his little sister’s music group. Here, he learned that he may be able to learn to play the drums. The music therapist helped him purchase a drum machine through some funds at the refuge center.  

After the first session, Malakai had already mastered the beat the music therapist had taught him and had made up his own song using the drum machine. Though initially hesitant to engage in songwriting with the MT, he mentioned that playing drums was a way to express his anger and emotions as well as a way to calm down. Malakai became so proud of his progress on the drums, he eventually ended up bringing them to school to show his peers his skills, which led to him making more friends at his new school. His relationship with his mother also strengthened as he loved sharing his new songs with his mother and she often asked him to take the headphones off while he created songs because she enjoyed listening so much. Eventually, Malakai was able to join the brass band at school and says that he feels more comfortable dealing with the violence in his fast.

The music therapist writing the article emphasizes the fact that the client had the opportunity to help write the article due to his maturity, resourcefulness, and interest in help people to understand music therapy as well as his mother’s support. At the end of his music therapy experience and after collaborating on the article, the music therapist and Malaki wrote a song together that summarized his experience of learning to play the drums and what he gained from music therapy. This article is unique because it gives us a glimpse into the mind of a client and their views on the therapeutic process. Often, it is hard to describe music therapy sessions due to the protected nature of information within sessions. A glimpse inside the client’s view of music therapy may help more people understand the value of the therapy as a whole.

By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC

Fairchild, R., & Mraz, M. (2018). “Everything Changed When I Got Those Drums”: A Collaborative Case Reflection. Voices,18(1), 1-13.