Day: Fridays
Time: 5-6pm
Ages: 11-14 yrs
Instructor: Gabrielle Unser
Certified Music Therapist, MTA, BMT, MT-BC
Cost: $175/series of 7 weeks

A unique songwriting series that focuses on self concept, self-esteem and motivation. Facilitated by a music therapist, participants will share their ideas and stories, workshop their own songs, analyze lyrics as a group, and record a final product. Previous musical experience not needed – support on piano, guitar and voice will be provided as needed.

Learning Objectives:
● putting their thoughts down in lyric form
● crafting melodies
● understanding accompaniment
● recording
● self-expression in a creative and meaningful way
● Engaging in a positive, supportive group atmosphere

Course Overview: Participants will begin by exploring song structures and styles. The therapist will facilitate a group song exploration and discussion of a specifically-selected song to promote a group dialogue, rapport, and to inspire some initial ideas. This will be followed by identifying genres that relate to themselves personally, assessing what instruments they would want in their songs, and building a list of their favourite songs. We will also define different structured song structures, identifying what is a verse and what is a chorus and how they are typically formatted within a song.

Once this has been achieved, participants will select a song from their list. As a group, we will discuss what themes and the overall feeling of the song evokes for them. We will explore how modifying a melody within a song can alter the song’s composition. We will brainstorm melodic motifs at this time, and save them for a later process. We will later begin to support lyrical development. Using prompts to promote self-reflection and self-expression, we will form lyrical ideas for each participant to utilize within their songs. Songs will be uniquely focused on expressing experiences of resilience, strength, and a strong sense of self. We will explore how rhyme can help structure a song, but will also look into songs that don’t rhyme and still communicate a concept clearly and aesthetically.

We will then work on lyrical formatting in each participant’s song, beginning with a verse and chorus of about 4 lines each. We will decide on the tempo of their songs, the chord progressions of their songs, and the instrumentation of their songs. We will begin recording their songs using recording software. Support from the therapist will be provided at this time, and clients will likely
be focused more independently within the group for this portion of the class; however, we will begin and end each class with small related therapy-based activities to continue to support group cohesion self-empowerment, and respect both the product and process of songwriting.

We will finalize the songs, ensuring participants feel supported and content with their personal products. Participants will be invited to share their compositions with their group members. The music therapist will facilitate a music-based discussion after each song, utilizing reflective prompts to ensure participants remain supportive yet authentic in their reactions.

At the end of the program, participants will be able to take their songs home on a USB stick. They will also have their duotangs as a commemoration of the songwriting process. This will also help support independent coping strategies through songwriting that clients can utilize independently at home. These will be customized artistically as a fun way to end the program and also continues to support creativity through the arts.

About your instructor: Gabrielle was raised within the unceded territories of kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem First Nation). She thanks the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm who continue to live on these lands and care for them, along with the waters and all that is above and below. She, her husband and their daughter, Ellie have officially moved to Brentwood Bay in search of that island lifestyle.

Having obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Capilano University in September 2021, Gabrielle possesses a strong educational foundation in her field. Prior to her graduation, she completed a 1000 hour pre-professional practicum within the Delta School District, where she discovered a profound passion for working with children and youth, both neurodiverse and neurotypical alike. Throughout the ongoing pandemic, Gabrielle has acquired valuable experience in delivering music therapy through online Telehealth sessions, as well as in-person sessions.
Gabrielle’s primary instrument of expertise is the baritone ukulele, although her affinity for music has been evident since her early years. She embarked on her musical journey at the age of six, beginning her piano lessons. She has experience in guitar, drums, xylophones and a variety of other instruments.

Guided by a humanistic, play based, non-directive, and client-led approach, Gabrielle’s music therapy practice revolves around tailoring each session to suit the specific needs and desires of her clients. Emphasizing individuality and personal expression, her sessions encompass an array of instrument explorations, such as percussive instruments, xylophones, and various others and sensory play. Within Gabrielle’s music therapy sessions, there exists no concept of right or wrong—rather, a supportive environment that encourages creative freedom.

When the pandemic hit, Gabrielle noted a huge loss of community. She created the Music and Movement program to bring families and children together — to build community as well as address social-emotional goals. Since her move from the mainland, she decided to bring her programs with her in the hopes to foster them within her new community.

During her leisure time, Gabrielle enjoys the company of her daughter and husband, engaging in activities such as board games and pickleball and nurturing her passion for songwriting.