May 12, 2020
Hip hop culture’s core values of social justice, peace, respect, and community make the world’s most popular musical genre a relevant and effective therapeutic tool for the marginalized and at-risk population. Hip Hop beat making and culture is successfully utilized across the globe as a mental health, educational, social justice and cross-cultural intervention.
Dr. Elliot Gann is a licensed child and adolescent clinical psychologist; he is a long-time beat maker and Executive Director of Today’s Future Sound (TFS). Dr. Gann has been working with TFS in Bay Area schools and community settings, and across the globe, using hip hop beat making and culture as a mental health, educational, social justice and cross-cultural intervention. He has worked with more than 75,000 youth on six continents in the past six years through TFS, and is currently developing the Therapeutic Beat Making (TBM) Model.
Mainstream hip hop and rap tend to have a reputation of lyrics glorifying violence, substance abuse, gender discrimination, materialism, and high-risk behavior in general. But hip hop culture, at its core, is built on values that include social justice, peace, respect, and community.
- Why it is a great therapeutic tool:
- All cultures have a form of it.
- Accessibility: At its simplest, you can make a beat with your mouth – beatboxing – and create or recite lyrics about anything without singing.
- It’s a style most young people feel comfortable with and it provides a way to build relationships. Lyrical content provides opportunity for self reflection, learning, and growth; and opens discussion on topics that are otherwise hard to talk about.
- Calming: Repetitive and predictable rhythms can down-regulate the nervous system by providing a sense of safety, consistency, and dependability for those with little of these in their everyday lives.
- History of hip hop
- Elements of hip hop
- Culturally relevant, therapeutic application of Common-Core-aligned STEM/STEAM curriculum
- TFS partners with schools, juvenile centers, mental health facilities, and veteran’s groups.
- TFS’s curriculum provides a context for world geography, digital literacy, community service, multimedia job pathways, cultural diplomacy, cross-cultural collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
- Photos of TFS in action:
Pay special attention to the beats/background music of songs with rapping or singing and notice each instrument, each drum sound and element. Then go to https://learningmusic.ableton.com and follow instructions there to make your own beats, program drums, etc.
- Today’s Future Sound website
- Student music can be found at Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
- Email Info@todaysfuturesound.org to reach out to us or use the contact form on the website.
- Hip Hop, empowerment, and therapeutic beat-making (TBM): Potential solutions for summer learning loss, depression, and anxiety in youth, by Raphael Travis, Jr., Elliot Gann, Alexander H.D. Crooke, and Susan M. Jenkins
- Hip Hop’s Healing Power, by Alexander Crooke and Raphael Travis
- Using Therapeutic Beat Making and lyrics for empowerment, by Raphael Travis, Jr; Elliot Gann; Alexander Crooke; and Susan M Jenkin
- Hip Hop as an Agent for Health and Wellbeing in Schools, by Alexander Crooke; Rachael Comte; and Cristina Moreno Almeida
- “It’s good to know something real and all that”: Exploring the benefits of a school-based Hip Hop program, by Alexander Crooke; and Cristina Moreno Almeida
- Improvising Using Beat Making Technologies in Music Therapy with Young People, by Alexander H.D. Crooke; and Katrina Skewes Mcferran, PHD, RMT
- Rubble Kings documentary: documents the transition from gang culture to hip-hop culture [update: I watched this on 8/2/20 and highly recommend it! Powerful and inspiring documentary. Note: Not for children/strong language & violence depicted; not rated]
- Elliot Gann personal website
- Elliot Gann Instagram
- Elliot Gann Twitter
- Elliot Gann YouTube
Dr. Gann shares the song, “To the Sky,” a collaborative song he co-wrote/composed with a student five years ago.