When your client requests their favorite song, do you have the skills you need to get their musical buy-in?
That moment of musical connection is what Nathan Mensah, MA, MT-BC is passionate about helping music therapists achieve:
“I have a concept I call “the musical buy-in” (I do not own this term). Picture this: When sitting in a music therapy group of teens, you hear your clients/patients say they enjoy a certain type of music (ex. reggae, heavy metal, rap, etc.). In my experience, when facing this scenario, I typically have one shot to “impress” them enough to engage for the next hour, to “buy-in” if you will. If I use an intervention that authentically connects with them musically using their favorite styles, they are typically much more likely to engage with the rest of the group. If I fail, they are turned off, think I’m “fake,” and have lesser motivation to engage. Because we are music therapists, it is not enough for us to play a song, we always strive to play that song the best we can, which includes highlighting certain musical qualities!”
In the video clip below from his 2019 Facebook Live presentation, Nate demonstrates a simple technique to achieve an authentic reggae sound & bring the concept of “musical buy-in” into clinical practice:
Nathan Mensah, MA, MT-BC:
On to reggae. So I would wager that a lot of you probably use reggae-ish type stuff in your sessions all the time. I think “Three Little Birds” is super popular. “Don’t worry Be happy.” is super popular. And whether you call “I’m Yours” a reggae song or not is your own prerogative, but it definitely has that reggae feel. So I’m going to say that I want less of well, let me just demonstrate. I feel like a lot of times I see and here this well:
(sings “I’m Yours” with a calypso strum pattern)
You know, it’s fine. Sure. It works. It really does. And if you’re like, maybe you’re in a group and you really just need to keep things moving and can’t get too busy. But if you listen to the song that is not what the guitars are doing you know. I’m just going to teach you this, this abridged version of a musical technique called Skanking. Woo. I know, scandalous name there! So first we’re going to Chuck. So that means that my fingers are on the strings, but they’re not pressing down. So I got that. It gets that little deadened, but still percussive sound and I’m not going one and two and three and four. I’m going one and two and three and four and one and two and three and four. And if you’re, if you’re still like, I don’t get the difference:
Think about it in terms of 12/8 or triplet. So instead of one, two, three, two, three, three, ready and go it’s one, two and, one two and, one two and then at a faster tempo. So we’ve got the chucking first, and then so every other I’m just going to play whatever chord shape I’m on. So right now I’m just doing a C and I’m going to do a quick down and then a quicker upstream. So altogether something like:
(demonstrates the skanking pattern)
See what I mean like now it’s like “oh! That sounds more like the song.” Yes, it does! You can come up with your own ways to do this too. I mean, we don’t have to perfectly authentically recreate these songs every single time, because we just can’t. But if you’re looking for those things that are going to lend itself to that sound, think about it. Skanking- nice and simple.
Ready to take your musicianship to the next level?
If you’re thinking “I could use some more of that!” then you’ll love Nathan Mensah’s course Level Up Your Style: Exploring Authentic Musicianship for 3 CMTEs!
Building on the skills & musicality you already have, Nathan breaks down techniques to help you expand your range and explore new sounds. When you take the course, you will:
- Explore & practice chord structures that imitate 13 different styles
- Develop new skills for your musical toolbox
- Refresh on musical modes & connect those modes to certain musical styles
- Dive deeper into how to authentically recreate genre sounds
- Gain appreciation for the special things that make 13 genres unique & valuable to our work
- Find JOY in music making!