Therapy vs. education

Posted: November 10, 2010 in Music Therapy

I’ve recently had to cut back the adult groups to being seen once a week (rather than three times).  To accommodate this change of schedule, I’m consulting for their music time the other two days.  I’ve been trying to design a few activities that correspond to their theme of the month (this month, Native American culture).

Yesterday, I went to the library to pick up several Native American music CDs.  I’ve been going through them and it’s been pretty interesting.  I have picked out a few tracks and written some blurbs from the liner notes that the staff can read before playing the track.  These blurbs include some things to listen for and some background information about why the music is being used.  Also, since I don’t want it to be a completely passive experience, I’ve provided some drums and shakers so they can play along if they wish.

So what’s the line between music therapy and music education?  I’ve been thinking about that.  Obviously, what the groups are doing cannot be considered music therapy when I’m not there.  It’s simply a music group that was consulted by a music therapist.  I’m trying to teach them a little bit about their theme while providing a structured environment.  I am planning to carry the theme over into next week, and I’ve been trying to think about how I can make it more therapeutic.  We can talk about what the music makes us think about.  We can try to imagine what the dances would look like.  We can make up our own dances.  I found something called the Moccasin Game that uses music as a backdrop and I think I’ll be trying that with them next week.

It’s a difficult thing, trying to conform to a theme.  I think it’s probably easier when working with kids because they are fundamentally more active.  However, even with adults, I think that a little education can go a long way therapeutically.

Comments
  1. JoelK says:

    Hey,
    One of our top MT programs here in Canada recently had a journal issue devoted to the overlap between MT and music education. Here’s a link, if you’re interested:

    http://www.soundeffects.wlu.ca/newsletter/vol_05_issue_01.pdf

    Also, the program director where I trained, in Edinburgh, specializes in that same overlap, and he developed a sort of “continuum” between the two (James Robertson, at Queen Margaret University).

    Keep up the good work. It’s all worthwhile!
    – Joel

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