View of New Voices, New Beginnings

[Editorial]

New Voices, New Beginnings

By Susan Hadley, Katrina Skewes McFerran & Brynjulf Stige

Welcome to new beginnings! We do not think that Voices has been in need of recovery or relocation, but we do think that a vital journal demands a constant search for new ways and expanded visions. Volume 14(1) is the first issue of Voices after the changeover we described in 2013 (see the Announcements Tab). We have refined our ambition, recruited new editors, reorganized our ways of working, and revisited the subsections of our website and journal to make it as interesting and relevant as possible for practitioners and scholars around the world. The process is in no way finished, and we welcome your contribution to the continued emergence. Two of the developments we hope to have in place during 2014 is the transformation of Country of the Month into a Wiki and the organization of a series of special journal issues on vital topics in relation to music, health, and social change. The first issue in this series will be Volume 14(3) later this year, with a focus on the relationships between music therapy and the critical tradition of disability studies.

In the present issue of the journal, you will find a broad range of stimulating texts, on intriguing issues such as “Music Therapy and Avatars” and “Heroines’ Journey” as well as on critical questions such as “How do We Understand Children’s Restlessness?” and “Can Therapy in Education be Dangerous?” And, there is much more, from new voices and from senior voices, including – to our pleasure – the voice of one of our previous co-editors-in-chief, Carolyn Kenny.

We are thrilled to have achieved our dream in enhancing our cultural and linguistic sensitivities by having the abstracts of each research article translated into nine languages, beginning in this March edition. Our team of translators has shared their bi-lingual expertise to make this idea a reality, for which we are truly grateful. This team includes: Danielle Jakubiak (French), Maren Metell (German), Rika Ikuno and team (Japanese), Hyun Ju Chong (Korean), Ludwika Konieczna (Polish), Camila Siqueira Gouvêa Acosta Gonçalves (Portuguese), Mayra Hugo (Spanish) and Claudio Cominardi (Italian). Special thanks go also to non-music therapist, Xuxiaoxue from China, who volunteered to help out for our first edition. We welcome expressions of interest from Chinese music therapists who could take up this role for future editions.

We want to thank all authors for their contributions, and we want to thank the large group of people in our excellent editorial team who have been working hard to prepare this issue (see list of editors and reviewers ). We believe that dialogue and collaboration between authors, reviewers and editors enhances the potential of a text. One of the significant groups of collaborators in Voices are the seven new Article Editors, namely Juanita Eslava-Mejia from Colombia, Seung-A Kim from Korea/USA, Helen Brenda Oosthuizen from South Africa, Simon Procter from the UK, Daphne Rickson from New Zealand, Melody Schwantes from USA, and Michael Viega from USA. Below we will highlight some of these editors’ reflections on the new beginnings of Voices.

New beginnings build on foundations. Seung-A Kim from Korea/USA reflects on how her new role as an editor in Voices builds upon a relationship to the journal in a range of different roles over several years:

For many years, my relationship with Voices has been significant to my development as a Korean American music therapist and educator. When I first joined the Voices community, I remember being an enthusiastic reader of the numerous articles and the variety of views that were presented in the journal. Soon enough, I had the privilege of becoming first a reviewer and co-editor of the interview section, and then an article editor for Voices. I am honored to still be part of this unique process of collecting and editing the different perspectives that come together in Voices. My passion for Voices has intertwined with the focus I have developed in music therapy. More specifically, Voices has been a refreshing reminder of the developments that have been made in my field as well as my colleagues’ fields.
As Voices journal emphasizes the collaboration with participants and their respective communities, the editors are encouraged to think beyond conventional methods of the article review process. As part of the Voices mission, social justice, liberation, empowerment, cultural pluralism, and community can be best viewed when scholars from diverse cultures share their worldviews and work collaboratively with one another. In the review process, the author, reviewer, reader, and editor, all contribute and piece the framing of the journal through collaborative work. We view the world with our own individual perspective as well as the whole group’s worldview; we ultimately want to piece together a project that can help create a collective community among the authors and the audience.

Daphne Rickson from New Zealand also reflects on how her new role as editor is an expansion of a continuing engagement with Voices:

I’ve been involved with Voices since 2007. During this time I have noticed how the editors have worked to improve, refine, and add new and exciting dimensions to the journal. I have seen the development of a formal review process and witnessed increasing publications of scholarly articles. But there has also always been an aim to promote discussion and dialogue, and to ensure the voices of diverse people engaged in a wide range of practices are represented in the journal. The editors have been consistent in their efforts to gain feedback about whether the journal is meeting the needs of our communities and passionate about enabling them to influence the direction that the journal might take. I have experienced a deepening commitment to these values through the formation of the new editorial team, with the new editorial board bringing new energy and enthusiasm to addressing issues relating to culture, social justice, and inclusion.

Daphne also shares that she has “experienced a real sense of those values being enacted, as we move forward. Genuine collaboration has enabled us to draw on each other’s experiences and strengths and to feel supported enough to eagerly take on new tasks and challenges.” Given the values and visions that inform Voices, this sense is highly valuable. It does need justification in and through action. Daphne continues:

On the other hand, I suppose as I have reflected on our new beginnings, I am reminded that enacting our values of egalitarianism, collaboration, and inclusion will not always be easy. For example, our Editorial Team is made up of Editors-in-Chief, an Editorial Board, a Review Board of ‘expert’ reviewers who are asked to evaluate articles, as well as Translation Editors. This immediately engenders a sense of hierarchy. Also, while the clear policies and guidelines that have been developed for authors, reviewers, editors, and website users seem necessary and helpful, I am aware that for some people in some circumstances they might feel restrictive.

After Daphne wrote this, we have chosen to change the labels we use when describing the various groups of people working together in Voices. We no longer talk of Editors-in-Chief, but Journal Editors, no longer of Editorial Board but Article Editors, and so on. The challenge of validating values in action remains. Juanita Eslava-Mejia from Colombia talks of how preservation of the Voices values requires (and nurtures) awareness about acts of balancing:

As an editor, issues of cultural awareness, power, empowerment, and the meaning of accompanying arouse for me.
In the interaction with reviewers a new issue came out: being culturally aware and respectful to the authors and at the same time to be respectful to the readers (including reviewers). Where or how to draw the line? Where is the balance, so that we respect the author, while also respecting the fact that there are some “universals” people expect from an article? The more relevant themes for me have been ethics, the article’s genre, and theoretical frameworks.
In terms of power, the issue of what does it mean to “accompany authors and reviewers” is critical. Being aware of my opinions and to be able to negotiate the position of reviewers and authors appear to be critical. In other words: How to hear every voice, and how to find a balance between the different voices? It is an interesting process and an ongoing challenge for me.
As a conclusion, to be part of the editorial team of Voices requires me to constantly balance voices, be culturally aware, review the origin of my opinions, and make choices.

Simon Procter from the UK also talks of challenges of balancing, in the context of what he calls “care-filled nurturing”:

It is great that we are trying to “broaden the net” in terms of both reviewers and authors and hence “voices.” It is also great that we are trying to maintain a proper degree of rigour to the process. Both of these involve a degree of care-filled nurturing. But reconciling the two is a bit of an un-navigated challenge at times, and maybe people need to be prepared to “bear with” us to start with!

Dialogue is one major strategy of balancing, and Melody Schwantes from USA reflects on the dialogical dimension of the work:

What has been meaningful to me, as I have begun working with the Voices team is the amount of dialogue that has existed among the editors, and between those who have submitted manuscripts and myself. The culture of the Voices team shows a collective approach that does require negotiations and discussions, but this process allows for a much richer form of engagement among the editorial team. It is not just about doing an editorial assignment, but really working with the team to bring together an exciting first edition that shares the values and ideas that Voices wants to communicate.
I have also really enjoyed the amount of dialogue that I have had with those who have submitted manuscripts. As an editor, I have been much more invested in their work than when I have worked with previous journals. I have seen the value of encouraging the authors to really emphasize certain aspects of their manuscript in order to create the opportunity for further dialogue once the issue is published. One author even told me that the editing process was fun! His statement really highlighted for me the value of why we communicate and work closely together to create Voices.

The dialogues of Voices are often polyphonic, and one of our visions is to stimulate interdisciplinary work and cultural learning. Michael Viega from USA compares Voices to Hip Hop Culture, which he describes as a bricolage of “various creative arts styles and perspectives from which a communal messages of peace through building community, mutual empowerment, and love springs”:

For me, it is not a hard to envision Voices as embodying the spirit of Hip Hop, sharing similar values and connecting a global community of music therapists. Created at the onset of the 21st century, Voices has utilized technology as a platform for new theories, research, perspectives, and practice to emerge; individual voices transforming into one beautiful chorus that continues to ripple worldwide.
It is a great privilege to be a part of Voices as a contributing editor. As a music therapy student and clinician, and later as an educator and researcher, Voices has always inspired me. It has been my go-to resource for learning about emerging trends in music therapy theory, research, practice, and education in other parts of the world.
This is also a forum where I have felt connected to a global family of music therapists as we collectively celebrate the lives of our pioneers, and reflect on the rich history and developments in our field. Voices truly values participation of all worldviews, remixing a bricolage of ideas and knowledge towards an integral understanding of music and health; in this context, we are Hip Hop! I look forward to my role as a mediator of the discourse as it unfolds and continues to inspire and empower those who visit this forum.

For this first issue produced by the new team, Michael has worked with Helen Brenda Oosthuizen from South Africa in order to find a way of paying tribute to one of the greatest voices of freedom and justice ever, namely Nelson Mandela, who passed away at the end of 2013, 95 years old. Helen reflects on the process and relates it to her own situation as a South African music therapist as well as to the perennial human challenge of bridging cultural worlds:

From the Southern-most point of Africa, due to the long (and costly) distance to travel for conferences or meetings held in other continents, we often feel isolated and removed from the international world of music therapy. Voices offers a possibility to participate in an active and significant way. When editors across the world considered making a tribute for Nelson Mandela, even before I awoke to the news of his passing, I, as a South African, was drawn immediately into an experience of working within this team. It was exciting and invigorating to pool our skills to create a combined product inclusive of diverse tributes from around the world, thus emulating values Mandela himself stood for. However, this project, as with our explorations of including diverse voices within all of Voices, has not been without difficulties. How would it be possible to include tributes from people from different continents and cultures, of different ages, speaking different languages, with different abilities, some who may struggle to speak at all? How could we formulate a product that remained true to the uniqueness and context of every contribution, whilst also understood by people from across the globe?  Personally (and rather jealously) I also wondered whether these contributions from other countries would do justice to ‘our’ special leader, speaking one of ‘our’ special languages! These are issues that we will need to repeatedly debate and consider throughout this process – a difficult, yet also important and extremely valuable process.

Perhaps that is as close as we will ever get in trying to articulate what Voices is all about, namely creating conditions for dialogue and debate, “a difficult, yet also important and extremely valuable process.”

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