Playing in the Borderlands: The Transformative Possibilities of Queering Music Therapy Pedagogy

How to Cite

Fansler, V., Reed, R., bautista, ezequiel, Arnett, A., Perkins, F., & Hadley, S. (2019). Playing in the Borderlands: The Transformative Possibilities of Queering Music Therapy Pedagogy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 19(3).


Music therapy pedagogy has traditionally been defined by rigid roles and structures, including fixed teacher/learner identity categories, systematized hierarchies of knowledge and communication, cultural and musical gatekeeping practices, and standardized musical, clinical, and professional competencies. These structures represent narrowly defined borders, which limit who enters the profession, how we understand human variability, and whose knowledges are acceptable within the field of music therapy.

This article challenges educational stakeholders to destabilize long-held oppressive categorizations and move into generative liminal spaces as an opportunity to experience radically inclusive relationships. We believe that these relationships are key to the transformative learning process of understanding ourselves, others, and the worlds we inhabit. We engage queer theory literature to establish key tenets of “queering” as an active practice applicable beyond gender and sexuality to include other socially constructed identity categories such as race and disability. We then move beyond identity categories themselves to address systemic educational and institutional practices. We draw from Gloria Anzaldúa’s concept of borderlands as a generative space of liminality, deconstructing the borders that limit full, authentic access to and within spaces of teaching, learning, practicing, communicating, working, relating, musicking, moving, and living; Maria Lugones’ concept of “world” traveling, loving perception, and playfulness; Luce Irigaray’s concept of wonder; and Carolyn Kenny’s writings on the field of play that illustrate that when we play in music therapy, there is a need for containers and boundaries that are open to multiple, fluid ways of being and ways of being in relationship.

Copyright (c) 2019 Vee Fansler, Ashley Taylor, Ezequiel Bautista, Rachel Reed, Susan Hadley

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