The Healing Magic of Songwriting

The Healing Magic of Songwriting

The Healing Magic of Songwriting

Through an Artist-in-Resident grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, Dr. Monte Selby spent a week at Dakota Memorial School-Fargo, the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Selby gives students the opportunity to express their emotions and future aspirations through songwriting. Writing their own music provides a bridge for many of our kids to be creative and expressive with their voices in the world.

Shayla Leinen, principal at DMS, says, “What sets Dr. Selby apart from most songwriters is his ability to connect with students on a personal level, engage them in authentic musical experiences, and inspire them to pursue their own artistic expression. All students had the opportunity to hear Dr. Selby sing and speak about music and songwriting. He connected aspects of effective songwriting to how students can make life choices, practice habits, and use the arts in healthy ways. All students had the opportunity to write with Dr. Selby in group sessions, and many chose to write their own personal songs.”

Students also had the opportunity to experience the support of other students, staff, family and community as their songs were performed in the culminating live concert, and through shared recordings via YouTube.

One student said, “I didn’t know I had all of that inside me. When I started writing the words just kept coming. I shared my song with my mom and I think it helped her understand what I am feeling inside better.”

Another said, “I never thought I would have enough courage to write a song, but I faced my fears and did it.”

When Selby returned home, he recorded and videotaped 14 of the songs he wrote with Ranch kids.

“Monte has a unique ability to put emotions and thoughts kids have that may difficult for them to verbalize otherwise,” said Christie Wilkie, Director of Clinical Services for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch’s Fargo and Bismarck campuses. “They wrote songs that told their personal stories about loss, triumph, tragedy, confusion, and sometimes, just making it through the day. In every song he sang, it was clear he took the time to get to know the child and honorably told their stories in a way that reflected their distinct personalities. It was a pretty cool thing to witness.”

Forgiveness
By Dakota Memorial School Student, “D,” and Dr. Monte Selby

I’m speaking from my heart to say
I’m loving God again.
He forgave my past mistakes
Washed away my sins.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness
for me.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness
for me.

I’m listening to my heart
When I feel guilty about my past.
God is watching all I do
And always brings me back, with

Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness
for me.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness
for me.

I’m feeling in my heart the joy
That fills and makes me whole.
Like flowing water from a stream
That gently calms my soul.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness
for me.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness
for me.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness
for me.

See “Forgiveness” music video at http://bit.ly/2o393ET.

Try to Get Better
By Dakota Memorial School High School Girls and Dr. Monte Selby

I told my Mama that’s the last drink
I’d take
Then she caught me on the weekend
Making my next mistake
And I told the judge that’s the last
time I’d run
Then I saw the blue and red lights
They read me my rights. And that
was my life.

CHORUS:
Mama says I need to try to get better
I should make a change for her
or whomever
Take responsibility. Do it for God
or my family
But someone else is who I need
To get better for. Now I believe
That someone is me. I’ll get better
for me.

I tell myself, “Take time to breathe
And try to think it through”
Before I choose the words I speak
And I tell my friends, “Stay occupied
and busy
Keep your mind off bad decisions,”
And it sounds so easy. But
sometimes…

But I’m still learnin’. I’m still hurtin’,
I’m still prayin’, I’m still waitin’,
motivatin’
I’m achieving and believing that
I’m worth getting better for.
REPEAT CHORUS

See “Try to Get Better” music video at http://bit.ly/2noaXg4.

 

Selby has also worked with Ranch kids in Bismarck and Minot. 

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