View of Introduction to the XIII World Congress of Music Therapy in Seoul, Korea

[Original Voices: World Congresses of Music Therapy]

Introduction to the XIII World Congress of Music Therapy in Seoul, Korea

By Seung-A Kim

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Seung-A Kim, PhD, LCAT, MT-BC, Molloy College, NY. Article Editor, Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.

Download Conference Program (pdf 7 MB)


Photo: Dr. Byungchuel Choi.

This issue contains a series of interviews reflecting on the 13th World Congress of Music Therapy that was held in Seoul, Korea in 2011. Hosted by the Korean Music Therapy Association (KMTA) and also sponsored by the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT), 1309 people from 42 countries (see interview with Dr. Kyungsuk Kim’s ) participated in this historic congress. During the conference, Dr. Petra Kern, the current president of the World Federation, passed her presidency onto Dr. Byungchuel Choi who will begin his Presidency for the next term. We would like to extend our thanks to the conference chair, Dr. Byungchuel Choi, for his leadership, as well as the Local Organizing Committee (Dr. Byungchuel Choi, Carolyn Shim, Dr. Kyungsuk Kim, Jungyoon Yeo, and Dr. Jiyoung Moon) and the Board of the World Federation of Music Therapy. Their time and effort helped ensure that this conference was memorable and invigorating. All of the conference committee members and volunteers welcomed us so warmly. Everyone involved in supporting the World Congress helped in providing logistical support to ensure that each aspect of the conference was planned out with great care and thoughtfulness.

This congress was particularly meaningful because it was the first congress to be held in Asia. The attendees enjoyed not only the wealth of information that was presented throughout the conference, but also the ability to firsthand experience different cultures in their entirety. Held in Sookmyung Women’s University, the attendees of the conference were able to enjoy the architectural beauty that portrayed Korean culture as a combination of traditional and modern constructs. Especially since community is emphasized in Korean culture, we were able to symbolize this with a group photo we took during the conference (included below):

The theme of the congress was “"Music Therapy in Eastern and Western Philosophy." To disseminate this theme, there were four spotlight sessions: Music therapy and Medicine (Moderated by Dr. Annie Heiderscheit), Music Therapy and Special education (Moderated by Dr. Petra Kern), Music Therapy and Older Adults (Moderated by Dr. Gene Ann Behrens), and Music Therapy and Research (Moderated by Dr. Petra Kern). In addition, pre-congress seminars were offered, including MT with Neurological populations, MT and Oncology, NRMT, and From Research to Practice. Paper presentations, workshops, poster sessions, and business meetings took place as well.

The cultural events prepared by the local organizing committee were exemplar. One evening during the conference, the tables and chairs were set up in the campus yard under beautiful skies, where a Korean food buffet was served. There was an interesting and colorful assortment of food that gave us a taste of Korean cuisine. While having dinner, the traditional to modern music performance prepared by the local committee captivated us. So we were busy capturing the performances with our phones or cameras while being able to enjoy the experience. At the closing ceremony, a variety of performances became the highlight of the event. For some, this conference held a special individual significance. In Seoul, old friends and colleagues, who had not met for many years, got a chance to reunite. For some attendees, this conference provided them a chance to revisit their home country. To trace her own roots, Roberta Kagin visited her uncle’s (a missionary who had married in Korea and moved back to the U.S.) house in Chungu. The memories we made during this conference will stay with us forever.

I hope you enjoy reading the attendees’ experiences, memories, and photographs. I appreciate those who participated in the World Congress of music therapy and the interviews for Voices, and also those who shared their photographs with us. I would like to give special thanks to Dr. Barbara Wheeler, for her wonderful work with these interview sections, and for her wisdom and helpful tips which help me to further her legacy. I look forward to connecting with many of you again at the 14th World Congress of Music Therapy next year in Austria. Further information regarding this conference can be found at


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