Updated: May 23
In the past two years, I have accumulated all my energy and power on the idea of an organization that can resolve some problems faced in society through creative arts. When I was studying psychology, I had a chance to travel and work in many different organizations worldwide. As a result, music and creative arts became my focus, and I have observed that the path to healing passes through creativity, both at individual and societal levels. While studying music therapy in Barcelona, I passed through the everyday struggles of an immigrant in Europe; economic problems, the stress of an unclear future, being without papers, desperately looking for a job to pay for the school, and the small room that I rent. Ask any immigrant about their struggles, and they will tell you that I was lucky. I was fortunate that I had a chance to get closer to my dreams and found Project IN, a place to put all our dreams into action and change the perspective on immigrants. Perhaps, a place to turn political problems into local solutions; who knows, we are still working on it.
I am Salih Gulbay; I am a psychologist and music therapist. After the Covid-19 lockdown, I had a chance to start Hip Hop Project IN, a trauma intervention project for youth at risk of exclusion through Hip Hop and Music Therapy. Then everything evolved into Project IN, a unity of different projects to resolve the struggles and problems we face in the global capitalistic society through art and creativity. Since everything started, I have wanted to write and explain all the connected lines that pushed me to fund Project IN, to tell the story of this creature we are raising. If you are reading this, you are also part of it.
In the music therapy master's course, I was excited about using technology in the music therapy sessions and fascinated by music production as an art form. Consequently, I got to know Dani Royo's work with people with cerebral palsy at Aspace Foundation. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. The symptoms of CP vary from person to person, and the music therapists who work with people with CP have to be creative and innovative. Dani Royo was such an empowering music therapist, using the music production and technological tools for the needs of the participants of his sessions. I met him in his presentation of a book made by all the lyrics from the songs written in the music therapy sessions. When I am talking about songwriting, it is a beautiful music therapy methodology. However, it wouldn't be your go-to tool for music therapy with speech impairment or with people who cannot communicate verbally. So, what he was doing was insanely complex and brave. After the speech, I asked him to be his assistant and intern in his work. I was there helping him for a few months and observing each session carefully. What he did was groundbreaking work; as CP varies from person to person, the way that they communicate also varies. Some people with CP can express themselves verbally, while others have to use a unique table to point out their phrases; each individual has unique differences. In his sessions, Dani approached each individual with a high sensibility to communicate deeply to create the songs they wanted to express. They wrote the song lyrics together; after that, they also composed the music based on the song's emotion.
When the piece was ready, Dani arranged a visit to a professional recording studio and recorded the song with the individuals he worked with. Another impactful side of his work for me was observing how he was creatively using the most advanced technology. Dani taught me how he was inventing instruments with few cables and programable touch sensors connected to music production software when I was working with him. He was individually creating electronic instruments specially designed for the movement capacities of the people. In this link, you can watch the Aspace's 20th Anniversary Concert and see all those different types of instruments that we have used for people to express themselves. The concert was a powerful experience for me. I was backstage controlling four computers that the sensors, cables, and electronic music instruments connects to the digital audio software. After four months of working and rehearsing, we finally made it. The families of the users and all the community were there. At the end of the concert, there was an explosion of emotions. A few years later, I learned that what he was doing had a name. It was called Community Music Therapy in the literature.
Dani is a fantastic music therapist, and he keeps on changing many lives through music. After my experience with him in my first year of the master's course, I was able to use electronic music as a music therapy tool, compose songs on software, and design special instruments for the needs of the participants. However, during that internship, one thing that the participants expressed took my attention, their past traumas. Some of the songs were made for their loved ones and families. Some of the songs talked about the participants' worldview or political ideas. Still, a large number of those songs that they have written during the music therapy sessions expressed the participants' past traumas. Traumas from the surgeries, social environment, or family experiences were marked in their lives. They were well described in the songs. I could also observe the healing that was happening after they explained it artistically. That way, my search to learn about trauma started...