To invite foreign music therapists, from different cultures, to lecture or to give courses in our country, that means that people interested in attending these courses will not only gain more knowledge in the field but they will also have many experiences and exchanges among themselves and the teacher. The teacher invited brings along not only his/her thoughts, ideas, and concepts about the area but, also, aspects from his/her culture, and the curiosity in knowing more about the country s/he is visiting.
Our music therapy relationship with Norway started in 1982 when I met, for the first time, Dr. Even Ruud at the International Symposium on Music Therapy held at New York University and organized by Professor Barbara Hesser. At this meeting, he told me about his book Music Therapy and its Relationships to Current Treatment Theories, that was written because, according to the author, "the ideas, as presented in this book, are useful in the ongoing discussion around major issues within the field of music therapy". This book, as well as the others he has written, have helped me a lot as a music therapy teacher.
However, nowadays, besides his interesting thoughts and studies, which mainly high-light issues like culture, identity and music therapy, he also presents his ideas about musicology, and creates what I consider a necessary and relevant bridge between the two areas. Since then, many books have been published about these subjects, enriching and deepening the music therapy bibliography.
In the three visits he has made to Brazil we also have had the oppurtunity to make many exchanges at another cultural level. The first time he came, it was in 1990, he was invited to attend the VI World Congress in Music Therapy in Rio de Janeiro. Alone, that time, among 17 international guests from around the world, he started to satisfy his curiosity as "cultural researcher"! And, as far as I know, because we had a lot of work and it wasn´t possible to be with our guests all the time, he went to a specialized museum alone, to see the variety of coloured Brazilian gems.
Dr. Ruud has visited Brazil two more times: one to São Paulo, to lecture in the II International Symposium on Music Therapy and, again, recently, in 2003, to Rio de Janeiro and Natal, this last time together with his wife Kristin.
Not only the ideas of Dr. Ruud attract Brazilian music therapists but, also, the cultural differences between our countries, his discrete personality, and our distinct cultural identities or idiosysincrasies.
A researcher personality makes one examine everything with attention. But, when insert in another culture, the impression we have is that the curiosity is potentialized. And his interests meet resonances in Kristin. Their senses are open to the "new". Every place is observed with different eyes. The soil color at the Botanic Garden is looked at and discussed with people from the host country. The ears listen to the birds in the hope of recognizing a familiar melody trying to identify similarities with those of the Norwegian landscape. But, everything is different.
All senses are on alert to absorbe a new or almost unknown culture. Helped by my husband, we could asnwer some questions (he more than I!), and they had many! Questions about the vegetation they observed, the shape, the smell and the colors of trees and bushes. Flowers - specially orchids - attracted their attention. Fruit was carefully handled - in order to feel the texture -, and smelled, before tasted. And the ice creams! Oh, the ice creams!
From the language - Portuguese - passing through Italian which is familiar to their ears and has the same Latin roots, it is possible to identify some words: "partitura"! Oh, yes: "partitura"!
And music? Voices can be similar. Almost nothing more. Rhythm, swing, inflections, intrumentalization, melodies, everything has its own caracteristics.
Every taste, every texture, every song from the birds, marks the differences and demarcates our "cultural terrains" and the personalities from who are part of them and, consequently, our sonorous/musical identities. Dr. Ruud points out, carefully, that after struggling with the idea that came from his intuition that "there might be some connection between music and the way we look at and present ourselves" he could state this hypothesis in a different way today. According to him "listening to, performing, and talking about music is not as much a reflection of identity as a way of performing our sense of ourselves, our identities". And he continues: "This makes a difference in the way we perceive how a sense of identity is constituted".
And, it is interesting to cite the words of another Norwegian music therapist who puts culture as one of the centers of his ideas. Stige states three main points about this subject: "a) I propose music in music therapy in many ways refers to and is linked to music as cultural and artistic phenomenon; b) I do not think sounds or significance can be separeted from culture; and c) neither do I think psychological parameters can be separeted from culture".
So, as I used to say: in music therapy, culture can be considered the common terrain where music therapist and client tread.
1 Ruud, Even. (1980, p. ii).
2 A city which is located in Brazilian Northeast.
3 "Partitura" in Portuguese and Italian means "Musical Score" in English.
4 Ruud, Even. (1998, p. 31).
5 Italicized by the author.
Ruud, Even (1980). Music Therapy and its Relationship to Current treatment Theories. St. Louis: Magnamusic-baton.
Ruud, Even (1998). Music Therapy: Improvisation, Communication, and Culture. Gilsum: Barcelona Publishers.
Stige, Brynjulf (2003). Elaborations toward a Notion of Community Music Therapy. Oslo: Unipub AS.
Barcellos, Lia Rejane Mendes (2004). Guests, Culture(s) and Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2004-guests-cultures-and-music-therapy