By Brynjulf Stige
There would have been no Voices without Carolyn Kenny. There would have been no section called Research Voices without Cheryl Dileo. When these eminent scholars now have decided to step down as Co-editors in Chief after 14 years and 3 years of service respectively, I feel a strong need to reflect at a personal level on their invaluable contributions to the development of our forum and journal. Appreciation feels like an appropriate yet insufficient word to use at this point. As I hope to be able to explain, appreciation on this occasion is strongly linked to anticipation.
The process started in 1999 at the World Congress in Washington. Some of us felt the need for enhanced international communication within the field of music therapy and were inspired by the new possibilities that the Internet seemed to create for Open Access publication (although I do not think we used the specific term Open Access at the time). In the informal meeting we arranged at the congress, Carolyn’s active participation turned out to be crucial. Her willingness to take co-responsibility in developing the idea gave the process strength and direction. One of the important discussions in the period before we launched the forum at the European Congress in Naples in 2001 illuminates the importance of Carolyn’s participation. What name should we give the forum? We all agreed that “world forum” was an appropriate phrase, given our ambitions of creating an arena for communication across countries, cultures, and continents. Then some of us suggested a more characteristic name too, which could reflect aspects of what music therapy is about. “Voice” came up in these discussions, with reference to voice as an important instrument for expression and communication in music therapy as well as to the notion of “giving voice,” which enables us to focus on the reciprocal relationship between individual and community in exploring musicking as ways of voicing one’s participation in the world. Carolyn joined these discussions and strongly suggested that Voices would be an appropriate name for the forum, because she argued that there are always multiple voices (if we care to listen) and that to value polyphony should be central to the vision of the forum.
This exemplifies how Carolyn’s perspectives have been critical in the development of what we established as our vision and mission: “to build bridges between various cultures, disciplines, and practice fields concerned with relationships between music and health.” This statement still represents a tall order for us. While we certainly have been able to bring together voices from a range of music therapy cultures, our success in bridging disciplines and practice fields other than music therapy is less obvious in our publications, although it does seem to be achieved in the high number of hits the website achieves, which must emanate from beyond our borders. I think that the interdisciplinary aspect of our mission might be possible to realize in the future. If we succeed, we will certainly walk in Carolyn’s footsteps and build upon her enormous contribution to the forum over the years, at all levels.
Carolyn’s contribution is not limited to how we conceptualized our vision and mission at an abstract level, however. As Co-editor in Chief she has worked extremely hard during 14 years, communicating with authors and editors, developing guidelines, finding reviewers, editing for English language, and many other acts of generosity. There is a broad range of very practical jobs to do in developing a forum and journal, and Carolyn has never been reluctant in her approach.
Cheryl Dileo’s period as Co-editor in Chief in Voices is short in comparison to Carolyn’s, but the repercussions of her contribution will be long-lasting. The original Voices vision purposefully did not focus on research articles, because we felt that other genres of academic communication, such as essays, interviews, and stories from practice were important in the process of developing an inclusive arena for dialogue where everybody could take part, whether or not they came from a context where strong research traditions had been established. Cheryl convinced us that research articles would supplement the other texts and stoke the fire in the belly of the Voices mission. Original Voices and Research Voices are now two sections in the journal, and we welcome both experienced and more inexperienced researchers to use Research Voices as a venue for international publication, not least for research that contributes to our understanding of how music and health work is situated in social and cultural contexts and relevant in relation to issues such as empowerment and social justice.
So appreciation in this case involves indebtedness as well as gratitude, and even obligation. Those of us who continue to work with Voices have an obligation to keep up the good work and to develop it further. The visions and contributions of Carolyn and Cheryl have always nurtured and been nurtured by the visions and contributions of all editors, and this culture of working collaboratively will continue. The editorial board of Voices has been a stimulating community of practice where we have helped each other both in getting the job done as well as in conceptualizing and understanding what is going on. It is therefore with much anticipation that we welcome two new Editors-in Chief; Susan Hadley (USA) and Katrina Skewes McFerran (Australia). As the remaining Co-editor in Chief from the original team, I look forward to working with Sue and Kat in realizing and developing the Voices mission. Our new editors both have extremely strong academic backgrounds and share a socially engaged vision for music therapy. There is every reason to believe that they will be able to continue building a community of practice that can meet the challenges that a young and growing journal will encounter now that it has reached adolescence.