Play music, think about things, and write about whatever happened inside while listening. This simple technique helps release and exchange inner worlds peacefully. Music creates, connects, and heals communication lines between people.
“Contemplation Music Writing” introduces a novel approach for using music as a way to lead kids on journeys of self-discovery about their lives. Parents, homeschooling parent-teachers, and educators can use my innovative, challenging, and rewarding approach to develop better relationships with their children, along with improved focus, self- and other-awareness, and academic skills in writing, reading, thinking, and creativity.
This is an original method for using music, so you’ll need an open mind. Music listening and contemplating inner experiences create a whole new world inside kids (grade 3 and beyond), where they become avatars in landscapes of mind, imagination, body, heart, and spirit. It worked in my classrooms with over 35 students, from the 70s until 2002 when I retired.
I believe my music technique can be scaled down to 1-to-1 and small group situations. One of the biggest differences would be the greater intensity fostered with fewer people involved. Also, if you’re a parent bent on creating openness with your children, you’ll become an important link to make the potential connection work. In other words, you would do contemplation music writing with the child, or else, how would you understand what he or she is going through while listening to music?
How a typical contemplation music-writing lesson works:
1. Play your child’s favorite music for 10 minutes. Let him or her choose the songs. (Note: Time can be increased to 15 minutes, pending on how many extra minutes you can afford to give.)
2. Parents are participants and follow through with what children do in the activity to build intra- and interpersonal skills together.
3. While the music plays, kids and parents close their eyes, visualize, and contemplate what is happening inside, whatever it may be. Feelings, thoughts, ideas, memories, present-moment events, fantasies, daydreams, dreams, and physical sensations are all part of inner experience.
4. After listening and contemplating (no writing is done up to this point), everyone takes a minute of “think time” to recall any inner experiences that occurred while the music played, no matter how goofy, silly, or “crazy” they may be.
5. Following the “recall-and-reflect” time, children and parents write about whatever happened internally. All these events become fertile territory for contemplation music writing. (Note: Parents should practice the activity a few times before introducing it to their kids because it would give them a better idea of the listening, contemplating, and writing processes.)
6. Each participant writes 75 words or more on 4” x 6” index cards. What is described can be about real world present moment events or something made up by the child or adult. There are no right and wrong answers to the contemplations.
7. Probably the most difficult part of the “music technique” for parents and teachers is asking questions to probe the child’s contemplations, especially making up impromptu questions. It takes practice to figure out which questions will lead children to greater awareness and inner-sights. So you’re going to ask questions about the writing, inner experiences, and contemplation: looking carefully and continually at what circulates around the mind and imagination.
8. Kids ask questions, too. This is a two-way street of communication and finding out about the other person, how and what they think, their feelings, and experiences that possibly whirled around during contemplation. Kids will learn how to ask questions after listening to what parents ask of them, in a way, the adult models an inquiry or question-and-answer technique. This is a way to build a stronger bond, open-mindedness, and communication between parent-and-child.
9. Continue the contemplation music writing lessons once or twice-a-week throughout the year with both the child and parent participating.
Opening discussion questions parents—and children—can ask:
- Did you enjoy listening to music and contemplating your experiences? Why?
- Was it easy or hard to contemplate your experiences?
- Did anything surprise or amaze you while contemplating?
- What were you thinking and feeling during the contemplation?
- Did you visualize or imagine anything while listening?
- Did any words come to mind while contemplating? Give an example.
- Were you confused at any time?
Specific discussion questions that apply to most writings:
- What mind-picture(s) are described?
- What feelings are expressed?
- What is the main idea of the contemplation writing?
PLEASE NOTE: Writing and questioning will probably be difficult at the start, but give it time to develop and improve for children and adults. Remember that the child is free to ask any questions after the parent reads their writing out loud. Before the oral readings, parent and child exchange the contemplations and read them silently first.
Need more information and background? Go to Edutopia.org post, “Using ‘Music Writing’ to Trigger Creativity, Awareness and Motivation” (4/2/12) at:
Check out my Edwords’ posts: “Music Listening Changes Children’s Lives” at http://www.bamradionetwork.com/edwords-blog/music-listening-changes-children-s-lives and “’Contemplation’ Strikes Emotional Chords with Kids” at: http://www.bamradionetwork.com/edwords-blog/contemplation-strikes-emotional-chords-with-kids.
Please go to my website, www.JeffreyPflaum.com, for samples of students’ writings and more author articles on “Contemplation Writing.”
Google a recent article titled, “Former teacher uses music to educate students,” by Jess Berry (Queens Ledger, June 30, 2014).
Want more stuff, please check out my Google+ Page at: https://plus.google.com/+JeffreyPflaum/posts.
Still have questions? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to help you introduce Contemplation Music Writing to your kids.