This is the first column I am writing as new sub-editor for the Australasia region. I follow in the footsteps of Morva Croxson (New Zealand) who was the inaugural editor of this region for Voices. It is appropriate therefore to thank Morva for her writings for Voices, and the leadership she has shown.
I have been contemplating what I might write about, and since we are at the start of a new year it was obvious to "see out the old year and welcome in the new." I want to share some of my professional, high moments of 2002, partly in celebration, but also in preparation for the year ahead. Perhaps the most significant event for me was the 10th World Congress in Oxford, England. In preparing for my opening address to the Congress (as retiring President of the World Federation of Music Therapy) I wanted to find out how many music therapists are practising throughout the world, so I contacted the country co-ordinators to ask that question. The responses I received gave a range of figures with interesting explanations as to why the figures couldn't be more accurate.
The General Secretary of the European Music Therapy Committee (EMTC) is Monika Ribaupierre-Nocker, and she responded that there are approximately 5800 music therapists practising within Europe. (The EMTC represents 22 countries in Europe).
According to the Sourcebook of AMTA in the USA, there are 2,000 music therapists practising in the USA, however in the USA it is not mandatory for qualified music therapists to belong to the professional organisation, therefore the 'real' figure is likely to be twice that number, approximately 4,000. A similar situation exists in Canada where the estimate is approximately 600 practising music therapists. The South American figures are approximately1800 qualified music therapists in Argentina, and 1400 in Brazil. In the Pacific region of the world, there are approximately 350 qualified music therapists in Australia, and 580 in Japan (although most are self-taught). Adding to this figure a number of smaller countries, making in total an estimated 15,000 music therapists world-wide.
In my address at Oxford, I commented that those of us within the field of music therapy may be impressed that there are about 15,000 music therapists in the world. However those looking in on our profession might be surprised that the number is relatively small, when compared to other professions. Because our numbers are small, a significant load of responsibility is placed on our shoulders to do many things to further the profession, to maintain high standards of clinical practice, high quality training programs, reputable research, and well-written publications. Most people I know in the field of music therapy carry many positions simultaneously - as clinicians, teachers and supervisors, as well as roles within the professional organisation of their country.
It is clear to me that music therapists world-wide have a very strong commitment to the profession, and manage many tasks with high levels of responsibility. They also have a strong commitment within their respective communities, as evidenced in a city such as New York, where music therapists are caring for people affected by the September 11th 2001 tragedy and providing valuable support to those professionals who care for people who have been traumatised.
Another insight into the "global family" of music therapy is the salutary thought that in any 24 hour period of time, music therapy is always is progress somewhere in the world. As music therapists in Europe are finishing their clinical work for the day, music therapists on the West coast of the USA and in South America, are opening their doors to the morning's clients, while music therapists in New Zealand and Australia are opening their doors to the next day's clients! And so in a temporal sense music therapy is always underway - the music is never silent.
Other highlights for me professionally in 2002 were trips to South Korea, and to New Zealand. The trip to Korea was to be part of the annual Sori Music Festival in Jeonju, where I participated in a music therapy program conducted by So-Young Moon. She organised integrated groups of disabled children and their non-disabled peers, in demonstration sessions attended by teachers and parents of the children. I was impressed by the very accepting nature of the children toward the disabled group members, and their gentle, lyrical voices. Jinah Kim has written about the developments of music therapy in Korea (Country of the Month, Voices, November 2002), and it is heart-warming to see music therapy practice emerging in a new language and with new songs.
A new development in New Zealand is also worthy of mention, as the first music therapy course gets underway at Massey University, Wellington campus. The Director of the program is Dr Robert Krout, and his article about the new course will be featured in the March edition of Voices.
And so to welcome in the New Year. It is customary in early January, to wish everyone a Happy New Year. In January 2003 these words may sound rather trite as the world balances itself precariously because of threats of war and continuing unrest that effect so many people. It might be more appropriate to wish everyone a safe year ahead, or more importantly to suggest that we look out for each other in the year ahead. The model of Community Music Therapy is already gathering ground (Ansdell, 2002), and in the months ahead music therapists may be called upon to use their talents and skills in supporting those around them who are anxious about world events. And we have many skills and talents to draw on. Songs of hope and inspiration form such a large part of music therapy practice, whether written specifically for, or by, individual clients, groups, families or communities. These are times when music creates strong bonds between people, and fortunately there are 15,000 music therapists world-wide willing to do just that.
Ansdell, Gary (2002). Community Music Therapy and the Winds of Change. In Kenny, Carolyn and Stige, Brynjulf (Eds). Contemporary Voices in Music Therapy. Oslo, Unipubforlag.
Grocke, Denise (2003) Thoughts on the Global Community of Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2003-thoughts-global-community-music-therapy