Day: Fridays
Time: 6:15-7:15pm
Age: 12-15 years
Instructor: Gabrielle Unser
Certified Music Therapist, MTA, BMT, MT-BC
Cost: $175/series of 7 weeks

This is a group for LGBTQIA2S+ youth aged 12-15 looking for an engaging and supportive space to connect with one another and enhance their coping skills through the use of music. This group will be facilitated by a certified music therapist who is part of the LGBTQIA2S+ Community.

Learning Objectives:
● To support expression of unique personal and social conflicts due to systemic oppression & biases.
● To empower LGBTQIA2S+ individuals to find strength in differences by freely exploring and expressing their gender and sexual identity.
● To improve self-esteem among LGBTQIA+ youth, where “self-esteem” is defined by one’s feelings and opinions of the self
● To combat heteronormativity by emphasizing the complexity and fluidity of sexual orientation.
● To positively impact interpersonal relationships to counteract negative social pressures.
● To increase sense of community and support among LGBTQIA+ youth and decrease isolation among LGBTQIA2S+ youth

Course Outline: Each week, participants will engage in a variety of interventions listed below. The main goal of this group is to provide a supportive space where LGBTQIA2S+ youth can connect with one another and enhance coping skills through the use of music. Some example interventions would be:

Key Course Elements:

● Music Autobiographical Assessment: Interactive written activities to assess musical preferences of each group member may be administered early into the group sessions. Content from these activities will be used to incorporate the participants’ unique perspectives and feelings around their relationships with music. Individuals write down songs that represent their past, present, and future in order for the music therapist to gain a therapeutic perspective of the client.

● Critical group lyric analysis: LGBTQIA2S+ composers and musicians will be introduced. A group lyric analysis of therapist-selected songs that uniquely represent love, gender, and identity within their lyrics will be facilitated.

● Gender bender songs: The use of gender bender songs will be used intentionally. Participants will be able to change gender pronouns or sing songs that are originally sung by a musician with a different gender in order to better identify with the songs.

● Music and Arts exploration: Creative arts interventions permit individuals to express their thoughts and feelings beyond verbal communication. Music is played or performed while clients create art, and the music is chosen to evoke a response from participants. Each client receives 3 blank sheets of large cardstock paper and are asked to write their name and preferred gender pronoun on the back of each sheet of paper. This motivates participation because writing their names artistically “breaks the ice,” and the sheet of paper becomes their own personal canvas. The clients are told that the canvases represent the past, present, or future, as providing structure helps motivate participation, especially for adolescents. The 3 blank sheets of paper would be facilitated in this way:
○ Canvas 1: Participants are told to explore the paths they have encountered in regards to their identity while listening to music.
○ Canvas 2: Participants are told to let the music guide them while they complete a second drawing to represent the present.
○ Canvas 3: Participants are asked to think about what they want from society, their family, or their community in the future.

● Exploring how different genres of music have been informed by culture & tradition, particularly in relation to gender & sexual orientation. Considering how music has developed to reflect changing attitudes to sexual orientation and gender identity. The aim is to provide a sense of historical context to highlight the progression of acceptance, with a goal of instilling a sense of hope and stability.

● Musical song-share: Exploring how participants are personally influenced by the music they listen to. This would occur once a sense of community, group rapport, and safety has been established within the group. This could include clients sharing preferred songs in relation to different socio-emotional themes, followed by a music-based group discussion between participants. To further expand on this later in the course, the group can co-create intentional music playlists.

● Group Anthem writing: The purpose of this intervention is to create group cohesion, increase emotional expression, decrease feelings of isolation, and reinforce the group members’ self-identity and self-concept can benefit from co-creating a group anthem. The anthem will address the unique differences within the group while still emphasizing inclusiveness.

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.