Over the past six years I have provided music therapy services in the state of Indiana through the Home and Community-Based Waiver (HCBW). The HCBW funds an array of supports, including music therapy services, to children and adults with disabilities in their community instead of institutions. After reading Ansdell’s (2002) discussion paper on Community Music Therapy, specifically relating to socially-defined groups who suffer marginalization, (e.g. disability groups), I found he articulated how I provide individual and group music therapy services in Indiana. Many aspects of Community Music Therapy are a natural part of my work as a HCBW music therapist with adults who are dually diagnosed. Like Ansdell’s article, I assess how HCBW consumers function in society, , and what role music-making has in the changing relationship between them (Ansdell, 2002).
Community Music Therapy, as defined by Ansdell, Pavlicevic, Procter & Venrey, (Ansdell, 2002) is an approach to working musically with people in context of their society and natural environment, where social and cultural factors of their health, illness, relationships, and music are taken into consideration. When discussing music therapy with prospective HCBW consumers, I provide a brief definition of music therapy, and then inquire about the greatest need of the adult consumer. Most often a statement is made about how the consumer wants to learn how to play an instrument. However, through interview questions, I am able to identify the barriers preventing them from interacting independently within the community (e.g. being able to successfully acquire and maintain a job, utilizing public transportation, or communicating needs to others). In order to providing the most effective treatment to HCBW consumers, I now better understand how I provide Community Music Therapy in my individual session and drum circles.
For the past three years, I have been providing music therapy services to Tom, a 26 year-old man, diagnosed with depression and mild mental retardation. Tom can now play a variety of chords on the guitar. Through community music performance, Tom has acquired necessary skills to maintain a job through the context of a guitar lesson, and has demonstrated an increasing ability to exercise patience through learning and maintaining knowledge of chord fingerings by remaining within the sessions. At the beginning of each month, Tom chooses a venue where he would like to perform a lunch-hour concert, rehearses chosen pieces to be performed, then performs rehearsed songs within the community venue he has chosen. Community Music Therapy is used to increase Tom’s self-esteem through validating his ability as a musician, self-discipline through learning new material through, and self-concept through performing in self-chosen performance venues located within his community. In music therapy, Tom has been able to express himself in a socially-appropriate manner through utilizing his society, rather than clinic-based sessions.
The main agenda of Community Music Therapy has been the re-creation of community by providing social opportunities for musical participation (Ansdell, 2002). For the past five years, the Fort Wayne Community Drum Circle has provided a music-making opportunity for the Fort Wayne community, specifically HCBW consumers. All participants enter the circle with smiles upon hearing the ostinato drum pattern set by the rhythmic anchors playing inverted, 80 gallon plastic trash cans. Participants strike Remo Sound Shapes or Remo Nesting Drums for the hour-long drum circle. The malleable structure of the circles allows for improvisations which, according to Ansdell, build a community through a temporary leveling-out of all social roles.
According to the definition of Community Music Therapy, as presented by Ansdell (2002), Drum Circles are a form of music therapy in that it re-creates a small microcosm of society while providing outlets for musical participation. In order to merge Community Music Therapy with guidelines set out by the HCBW, I implement individual music therapy goals by having individual music therapy clients facilitate the circle. Currently, I am having a client facilitate the circle to carry over goals implemented in his individual music therapy sessions. Through drum circle facilitation, he has increased non-verbal communication and social interaction goals through initiating and maintaining eye contact with the group, and demonstrated critical thinking skills through cueing the group to play specific rhythms or dynamics. This ensures skills trained within the music therapy setting are being generalized into his daily life.
I am a community music therapist when working with HCBW adult consumers. Ansdell (2002) states the local community is a context to be worked with, not only for the work itself. Community Music Therapy is the most efficient way to meet the needs of HCBW adult consumers because they are able to interact with society through the contextualized, structured, and non-threatening medium of music. Within the musical framework, HCBW consumers can be themselves through improvisation. Ansdell’s (2002) discussion paper has helped clarify and articulate my philosophical approach to music therapy through utilizing the community within my work. I am now looking forward to investigating Bruscia’s ecological practices within music therapy to further my own work.