Understand and Improve Your Relationships Through Music

The Relationships of Your Life

What are some of the relationships in your life? How would you describe them? Do they feel fulfilling and nurturing, or is there a need to improve your relationships?

Relationships are dynamic things. They have an ebb and flow to them. Sometimes the relationship feels great, but other times it may feel painful or at the edge. This is normal, and it can be healthy if the overall experience of the relationship is nurturing and fulfilling to all parties involved.

In some cases, however, the relationship may feel like a lost cause. When you think about them, you question whether it’s possible to improve your relationships at all. I see this quite a bit in my work with children and adults dealing with family issues, such as divorce or a history of abuse and/neglect.

What Kind of Improvement is Needed in Your Relationships?

If you recognize that there’s room for improvement in your relationships, take some time to reflect on what kind of improvement is needed. Does the problem lie with communication styles? Or is the problem really based on underlying feelings or beliefs that neither party is willing to discuss? In the case where abuse and neglect may be involved, trauma and the lack of trust and sense of safety that comes with it, likely lie at the heart of the problem.

But maybe you simply have no idea what needs to change. And that’s perfectly fine. Just keep your mind open to what possible improvements your relationships may need.

If you’re a parent, it may be hard to know how to improve your relationship with your child. They may be a teenager who wants to isolate and keep to themselves. You may find that engaging with them is like walking on eggshells.

As well, your child may have certain conditions, such as autism or ADHD, which can make communicating with them to be challenging at times. They may have a different way of communicating which you’re both learning simultaneously. They may experience volume, tone of voice, facial expression, and body language differently than you do.

If you’re the adult child responsible for the care of an older parent, it can also be difficult. The relationship is different. You may notice the roles are changing. This can be especially difficult if your parent has communication challenges or if the relationship was already strained.

Sometimes in the course of this process, you may discover that the relationship that needs improving is the one you have with yourself. In that case, music can also help you with that. Music can especially help you manage any feelings of stress you may feel around making changes.

How Can These Relationships Be Examined Through Music?

A couple making music together can improve their relationship

Music can be a powerful and meaningful way to examine the relationships in your life. This is because music doesn’t involve words, yet it also involves expression. Through this non-verbal means of expression, it is possible to get to your underlying feelings, while also exploring different perspectives.

Making music provides you with an opportunity to explore the dynamics of your relationships. This can be quite literal, in terms of examining the sound and volume of how communication occurs within these relationships. For example, in my work with young children dealing with family issues, I’ll have them select instruments that reflects each family member and let them direct how we play those instruments. Sometimes the child represents one parent as a loud, percussive tambourine. Whereas the child may identify themselves quietly and melodically on the metallophone.

Other times in working with adults, the act of making music with me can provide the person with a safe space where they can be playful. Through doing this, the person may identify a need for more playfulness in their life and they become willing to communicate that with their partner. The act of making music within the therapeutic relationship can also bring up the deeply held feelings and beliefs that get in the way of them being the person that they most want to be.

Using Recorded Music To Examine Your Relationships

In the video below, I share an activity that uses recorded music to examine both the fulfilling and the challenging relationships in your life. By selecting songs that capture the essence of these relationships, you can gain greater insight into the underlying relationship dynamics.

Using Music To Improve These Relationships

Getting to the heart of what needs improving in your relationships is key to being able to improve them. Music can help you to explore the dynamics the underlie the relationship. As I share above, you can uncover or discover what needs changing by making music or listening to music.

Once you uncover these dynamics or areas for change, you can then begin taking steps to create the change. One way you can use music to do this is through song-writing. Song-writing can help you get your thoughts and feelings in order.

It can help you identify how the change needs to happen. Writing a song can serve as a source of motivation and affirmation for making these changes. Because of this, having a song special to you can be helpful if you’re feeling uncertain about the changes you want to make.

Another way you can use music to improve your relationships is again by making music. By making music, you can explore different ways of communicating without needing words. This can be helpful if you find it difficult to communicate assertively or if you have a tendency to rationalize things away.

If this sounds like something you’d like to explore further, whether for you, your child, or your parent, please contact me.

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