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Music therapists learn that songs and human life experiences go hand-in-hand. Sure enough, it was through songs that my relationship with music began in the mid-1960s. Spinning tunes from stacks of 45rpm Pop-rock records (I had 5 older siblings!), I 572 played the hi-fi long before ever touching a real instrument. Then at the start of the 1970s when the singer-songwriter genre was hot, and led by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Carole King, Cat Stevens, Dan Fogelberg and the like, I began to truly listen. I was in the throes of a major developmental phase that largely is about discovering and dealing with new awarenesses—of self, others, and intertwining personal worlds, and the confessional songs of these artists accompanied me into and through my angst and growth. Songs, with their ability to hold a person firmly in a moment, and laced with rich timbres and textures, images, moods, feelings, ideas, stories of relational wounds and consummations, inspire dreams and spark yearnings. In learning my first chords on guitar (the opening sequence of Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie—ironically a song of a Hero’s Journey), I realized that I had something special in my hands; something that made it possible to express significant things that I felt and thought about, and that others might thereby resound with me. Songs and life experiences, I learned then, indeed go hand-in-hand.
The Lives of Music Therapists: Profiles in Creativity, Volume 3
Hiller, James, "James Hiller: Autobiographical Account of My Evolution as a Music Therapist" (2018). Books and Book Chapters by University of Dayton Faculty. 55.