The Open Movement and Education – Part Two (Copyright)

This is my second in a series of blog posts about the “Open” movement and education.  Here’s a link for those of you who missed reading Part One – The “Open” movement(s) and education – can they work together?.  Having discussed some of the motivations for both sides of the “Open” movement, it is time to address another important issue – copyright.

Copyright legislation and education have a long and connected history.  Authors and publishers of educational content have, very rightly, used copyright to protect their ideas and their material from theft and illegal use with and without profit.  Enter – the digital age.  Materials and new educational resources are no longer predominantly printed, now they can literally be any type of media including media such as videos, blog posts, webinars, proprietary software, etc.  In addition, these various types of media are being created and shared by individuals from around the world.  Copyright legislation could not keep up and many thought that there had to be a better way.

Indeed, a better way was found – Creative Commons (CC) licensing.  In early 2001, three individuals founded a non-profit organization called Creative Commons.  It allowed ordinary individuals and organizations to license their digital work(s) in a variety of ways, with legally binding licenses in a wide range of countries, for free.  Most revolutionary, in my opinion, was the opportunity that individuals had to license their works/intellectual property in a variety of ways.  These included:  commercial and non-commercial, as an exact duplicate or modified content/repurposed content, with attribution and without attribution, for educational use and/or public use.  Obtaining a copyright was, in contrast, time intensive, costly, and singular in scope – the various options available to the Creative Commons licensee were not available to the copyright holder.

By 2008, according to Wikipedia, there were an estimated 130 million works licensed under Creative Commons.  Since then, the number of licenses has grown tremendously with some major social platforms such as Flickr and YouTube allowing you to attribute a CC license to your picture or videos respectively.  Indeed, the addition of CC licensing on YouTube has already resulted in at least 10,000 new videos for public use and resuse!

If you are a music therapist with videos on YouTube – consider assigning your older and new videos a Creative Commons license to:          a)  better protect your video and its’ content from theft and piracy, and b) ensure that people can use it in educational and continuing         education contexts

Courses, such as those found on MoodleCommons.org, developed with Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Moodle also allow you to assign CC licenses.  Finally, you can assign a CC license to your blog postings, on platforms such as WordPress, and to Wikipedia entries.

Many people, as well as myself,  rightly feel that this is a tremendous step forward in the development of open education and open resources,  There is, however, one area where CC licensing is challenged – evaluation of the resource in question.  Just because you can post something then assign it a CC license does not mean that the content is accurate or trustworthy.  Using the previous method of protection, namely copyrighting something, meant that your content had been peer reviewed for accuracy (i.e.  in a proprietary journal or a book edited by a known authoritative figure in that particular field).  With widespread sharing of content, blogging, and CC licensing, anyone, from anywhere, can post something that may or may not be accurate.  The contentious, and very public,  debate found in this recent blog (and its’ commentary) is but one example of how issues may now by skewed in one direction or the other direction for both honest and/or negative purposes.

So should we scrap CC licensing?  Definitely not!  How then, can we ensure that content published under a CC license is accurate?  In my next posting, in this series on the “Open” movements, I am going to suggest the creation and use of official digital repositories.  In the meantime, please feel free to comment and reflect on this posting.

Related Links

Adding a Creative Commons license to a YouTube video

Adding a Creative Commons license to a WordPress blog

Using Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr

 

John Lawrence MMT, MTA

For the record – I am a music therapist with over 15 years experience in clinical settings, predominantly involving geriatric clients.  I obtained my Master’s degree in Music Therapy from Temple University in 1995 and have subsequently served in a wide range of appointments and positions related to the field of music therapy.  For the past 8 yrs I have served as a sessional instructor in music therapy at a number of post-secondary institutions and most recently served as chairperson for the first Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT2011) held in March 2011.  You can reach me using:  E-mail:  jlmt@telus.net, Twitter@JLisaMT, FacebookJohn Lawrence and LinkedIn:  John Lawrence MMT, MTA.

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Filed under Books and Resources, Business Tools, Education, Global Education, Music Therapy, Open Platforms/Software, Organizations, Pedagogy, PR/Advertising, Web 2.0 Tools

The “Open” Movement(s) and Education – Can they work together?

I’ve been reading and educating myself through a variety of online and offline resources, through day-to-day use, and speaking with educational colleagues at a variety of conferences about open education.  During this process I’ve seen a huge variety of terms used to describe the “open” concept and I’ve learned a lot.  Some of the terms that you might see are:  open learning, open education, open source, open courseware, open texts, open educational resources, flat classrooms, etc.  And, after much reflection, I’ve decided that perhaps I finally understand enough to share my thoughts and opinions with you.  This will be a series of posts, as the issues involved are complex and lengthy.

So, here I go with my first post.

Motivations

From the dawn of civilization, whenever there was a perception that someone, or a group of people had a “special knowledge”, people have tried to barter, steal or derive financial/other benefit from that knowledge.  The individual(s) with that knowledge quickly learned to guard the knowledge to maintain their advantage.  Before public education became common you could either share in that individual(s) experience (apprenticeship or trade associations), or hope that they would share their knowledge, sometimes freely, sometimes for a cost.  “The holders of knowledge” were teachers and professors however they only shared a part of what they knew.  Students regurgitated that knowledge through testing, in order to prove their “acquisition” and “knowledge” of the subject.  More recently, much of the educational literature has begun to recognize/promote a significant alteration in thinking – namely that education and expertise should follow an “open” or “low-cost” model of delivery with everyone contributing to learning about a particular subject, as equals, including the instructors.

This change of philosophy has several opponents highlighted by a recent blog posting discussing the reaction of publishers to a new government program offering  $2 billion (USD) to developers using the “Open Educational Resource (OER)” business model.  There is also opposition from higher education institutions that fear the offering education freely is likewise untenable in the long-term.  Finally, educators themselves have been slow to pick up on the concept of “open learning” or “open education”.

There are, of course, notable exceptions.  Publishers in a variety of scientific and artistic disciplines have increasingly begun to offer “open access” journals. The Voices e-magazine is an example of open publishing .  (For a searchable list of other open access journals check out the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) search engine.)   Beginnning in 2005, the Massachussetts Institute for Technology (MIT) began offering its’ undergraduate and many graduate level courses online, for free or low cost.  This evolved into the Open CourseWare Consortium that presently boasts the membership of, “over 250 universities and associated organizations worldwide committed to advancing Open CourseWare sharing and its impact on global educational opportunity (About the Open CourseWare Consortium (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://ocw.mit.edu/about/ocw-consortium/).”  The Open Education Resource University (OERu) and the Open Education Resource Tertiary Education Network (OERTen) are two initiatives described in the blog entitled, “Views, dreams & creative writing…” (Prasad, A.  (2011, May 25).  OERu to establish OERTen.  Retrieved from http://apletters.blogspot.com/2011/05/oeru-to-establish-oerten.html).  Finally, two educators (Dr. Alec Couros and Dr. Stephen Downes) with whom I share many common opinions are certainly, in my opinion, outstanding advocates for Open Education and they are working very hard to change the attitudes of current and future teachers and educators.

Changing attitudes is just, however, a small piece of the puzzle.  In the next post we will be looking at the issue of copyright and OER resources.

Please leave your comments in the space provided below.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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Cultural sensitivity – good for business and good for you!

Image Source:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2011/05/16/slave-lake-fire-evacuation.html.  Retrieved on May 21, 2011.

During this past week, I wrote about undertaking an individual, or series, of music interventions involving evacuees from Slave Lake, AB.  The community has suffered greatly with all 7000 inhabitants being evacuated following a firestorm that swept through the town.  Yesterday, they released a tally of homes and businesses destroyed by the ensuing fire(s) – 485 either destroyed or heavily damaged.  That is just the physical losses – many of the emotional and psychological losses are yet to come.  In part, that is why I felt the need to volunteer my assistance.

There are a number of evacuation centers.  Part of me would like to go to the evacuation center in Athabasca where 800-1000 people are living, at least temporarily, but at this point that is not possible.  So today I am volunteering at the evacuation center located in Edmonton – the Northlands EXPO centre.  In planning and seeking permissions I ran into an unexpected barrier – cultural sensitivity.  Edmonton, and Alberta in general, has a large number of aboriginal/native communities.  The area around Slave Lake has a large number of individuals belonging predominantly to the Cree nation.  When I stated that I wanted to do a “drumming circle” the administrative committee reject the idea on grounds that it might offend some of the evacuees who might consider drumming a sacred activity or an activity associated with particular ceremonies.  I’ve been a music therapists for 15 years and drumming is part of my regular collection of interventions when I am working with clients – I have never have associated it with the potential to offend.  Perhaps it is just the name  “drumming circle” that may have cultural associations?

A factor in your music therapy business practice, cultural sensitivity is receiving increased attention in music therapy training.  Indeed, as the world seems to shrink – via increased personal mobility/job finding geographical location and “easy” access to a huge variety of cultures, your awareness of the predominant culture(s) or ethic groups within your local area.  When I lived on Vancouver Island (the Comox Valley), I found a large percentage of individuals were of German descent or ancestry.  Here in Edmonton, the native population and those of Ukranian descent are two of the most significant cultural groups.  This means that I need to learn songs, musical styles, and understand the beliefs that are a part of these cultures because I am likely to derive clients from those cultural groups.  When you do so, you will be better able to meet their needs and provide meaningful interventions.  Cultural sensitivity might also apply to occupational roles.  When I lived on Vancouver Island, predominant occupations included – logging, fishing, and mining.  Entertainment was not community based, but rather individuals “made their own entertainment”.  In Edmonton, residents are accustomed to accessing community and cultural arts-based activities – “to being entertained” rather than “providing their own entertainment”.  There is also a much wider diversity of employment histories – logging and fishing are not among them!

So what will I be doing today?  My first intervention will involve the children and musical activities, involving movement, imagination, and fun.   Next, I will ask participants directly about their beliefs surrounding drumming. (I have also sought out information sources via the Internet, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and personal contacts that have some experience with local/Alberta native populations).   If they are approving of the idea, I will then ask permission of the evacuation center administration to come back and do a second intervention.    I may not call it a “drum circle” and will avoid a “circular” shape – even though that provides a meaningful and psychologically comforting “holding” place for the emotions that are bound to arise.  I might call it “Catching the beat” or “Fun with drums”.  Stay-tuned for further updates!

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Responding to Disaster

It seems that everyday a new tragedy or natural disaster is reported in the news.  Here in Canada the past few weeks have been filled, and are still filled, with reports of flooding in various provinces.  On Monday, the news hit a little closer to home.  Slave Lake, AB (population 7000) was completely evacuated following a firestorm that has burned at least half the town, much of it – to the ground.  Evacuees are staying in nearby towns and cities, including the city where I live – Edmonton, AB.  I’ve been thinking about what I could do to assist those affected, whether it resulted from flooding or fire?  Here’s how I am attempting, in my own little way, to respond.  Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.  Thanks to Voices, Vicky Abad, Kate Williams and Monica Zidar for publishing an column that started me along this line of thinking!

The proposal that I am making to my local Red Cross:  Several hours of MT intervention with evacuees from Slave Lake, at two of the nearby evacuation centres.

Details:  Evacuees are being housed, along with their pets, in several evacuation centers.  Many are still trying to find out if they have anything to return to, as information is still sketchy.  Most left with moments to spare as the fire was sudden and escalated quickly due to high winds.  Luckily, there have been no reports of injury or death as a result of the fire.  Approx. 1/3rd of the town has been burned to the ground with up to half of the town damaged significantly.  Water and electricity have been cut off although efforts are underway to restore utilities to the rest of the town that remains standing.

Some of my intervention ideas include:

1.  Movement and music activity for elementary & preschoolers

This would include up to 30 minutes of music, singing, movement to music, parachute activities, etc.

2.  Drumming activities using variety of larger drums, gathering drums and simple percussion

a)  All age groups – group drumming activity using “heartbeat” rhythm to begin and end the session

b)  Teens/Tweens – emotional release/de-stress (using opposites, start/stop, accompaniment to pop/dance music)

c)  Children/Elementary age children – Provide egg shakers, rhythm sticks that have been donated.  Afterwards, children can take them home with them.

The basis/theory behind the activities is:

1.  Music is universal and generally enjoyable to most individuals – almost anyone, of any age, enjoys music and drumming

2.  Music can be useful as a distraction – these people have little to do but sit and worry about the future.  Distracting them for even a short amount of time can be therapeutic and useful.  Children especially need a creative outlet for their energy and natural anxiety, especially in a strange environment.

3.  Music can help to “normalize” an environmentchildren and adults alike are in a totally foreign environment at the evacuation centers.  Any “normal” type activity can be psychologically helpful and help to ease them through this difficult time.

4.  Music can help individuals move to a different emotional place  – I’m not sure what state many of these folks are in but if the news reports are true – most are in a relative state of shock.  Providing something as simple as an egg shaker or rhythm sticks (that I’m hoping to get donated) can help to ease the painful memories in the minds of the children and help them to have something to hold onto and remember positively about this experience.

So – am I crazy?  Should I be worried about too much emotional reaction/uncontrollable situations due to the large group setting?  Does anyone have any experience in similar situations that they could share?

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!


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Filed under Clinicial Skills, Interventions, Music Therapy

A private practice (in 5 easy steps)

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

Henry David Thoreau

Sounds to good to be true?  Maybe but read on.  If you’re looking for a blog about why you shouldn’t start a private practice, this isn’t it!  I’ve been in private practice my entire music therapy career (15 yrs) and I am here to say that it is very rewarding, but also very frustrating and challenging at times.  So what are some of the lessons I’ve learned – now that is something I can blog about!

1.  Things they don’t teach you in school

If you are considering private practice, be prepared for a steep learning curve!  You can’t possibly imagine what it means to be a) music therapist, b) secretary, c) promotions manager, d) accountant, e) researcher, f) innovator, all at the same time.  Perhaps that’s why they don’t teach it during your training to be a music therapist.  It also means that you can become burned-out very easily. 

Lesson One:  Get a mentor who is willing to help you through the hi’s and low’s of starting and maintaining your business.

2.  Be prepared for a time lapse between starting and “succeeding”

We all go into private practice thinking – “this is going to be the greatest private practice ever!”.  Then, inevitably, things take “longer than expected” to occur costing you time, energy (both physical and mental), and especially finances.  You will try to convince yourself that, “if I just do _________” my business will take off.  That is not to say that the opposite is true either, a “If I build it they will come and I have to do nothing” type of mentality.  A book called Rework, that I’ve discussed in a previous post, suggests that you not view your business as a “start-up” but rather, you should view it as a business.  Start-ups frequently come and go, but a business continues to evolve, building on each success along the way.

Lesson Two:  Expect to spend at least 8-12 months getting growing your business, measure “success” not just in $$$ terms, but also in terms of “Was I able to give my client my 100% attention and effort?” or “What have I done well, this week, based on feedback from clients?”

3.  Educate don’t flaggelate!

We can all learn ways to improve our business skills.  Indeed, there are literally thousands of books promising us that, “Just do _______” and your business will succeed.  However, reading all of those books will not make you a better business person.  Instead, focus on what you know best and be realistic about what you don’t know.

This might mean that you save and use your limited “extra” income to attend a national or regional music therapy conference rather than a local trade show.  Why?  Attending the trade show may give you exposure however it will also mean that most of your time will be spent explaining “What is music therapy?”, obtaining very few new clients in the process.   By attending a music therapy conference you will most likely come back refreshed, because everyone there understands what is meant by the term “music therapy”, and full of new ideas that you can use to improve or expand your business.  Use information sheets and business cards in your waiting room (if you decide to have one) to attract new clients using your existing clients as witnesses to the great services you provide.

If you already know that you hate working with figures and accounting, then maybe it is worth the money for you to hire an accountant, and prevent yourself from spending countless frustrating hours working on the business records yourself.    There are a thousand little details that must be taken into account when beginning, and a thousand more needed to maintain your financial records.   Indeed, setting up your business records incorrectly or missing a step can mean many, many hours spent later at tax time and possibly lead to fines or worse!

Lesson Three:  Choose your educational opportunities carefully and selectively, focusing on what you know best – music therapy.

4.  Don’t be a lone wolf.

Improving your business can be an all consuming affair, that isolates you from friends and family and things that you love to do.  eYes, you can dedicate more time to expanding your business when you are single without family or a spouse but that doesn’t mean you should.  Plan a little “down time” into a day full of back-to-back music therapy sessions.  Spend some of your hard earned cash to attend a musical concert or go to a favorite place that allows you to nuture your soul, rather than expend it.  Believe me, the time and money spent will be well worth it!

Likewise, don’t be afraid to “reach out and touch” other music therapists!  (e.g.  Consultation and Supervision Services by Key Changes Music Therapy) Aside from aforementioned conferences, the internet and technology allow us to communicate with a huge base of support and experience.  There are many music therapists that have stood where you are now.  Connect with fellow music therapists on services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Use Skype (or another similar service) to talk to a colleague rather than racking up huge phone bills.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on software either – use low or free alternatives to commercial programs such as Microsoft office (e.g.  OpenOffice or Google Docs).  Follow and comment on the postings of other music therapists’ blogs and/or begin your own blog using a tool like WordPress, a FREE and customizable way to communicate and share with colleagues and potential clients.  By doing so, you will develop your own followers who “seek you out” rather than “you seeking them out”!

Lesson FourIsolating yourself is a recipe for disaster.  You need the support of friends and colleagues to suceed.

5.  Accept that you will make mistakes and face disappointments.

Even the most seasoned, most knowledgeable, business tycoon will make a mistake sooner or later.  Just ask Microsoft!  Beginning a business, as an unseasoned veteran, will mean that mistakes will not only happen, they will happen more quickly!  You are going to make mistakes!  Likewise, you are going to face disappointments, some of which are out of your control (e.g.  Sad News for EMT) .  However, just like the stock market, where individuals know that some of the best investment opportunities come when the market is crashing, view your business as a long-term venture.  That way, a mistake made or disappointment experienced can be viewed as a “bump in the road” rather than the “only bridge over the valley collapsing”.

Lesson Five:  I repeat – You are going to be mistakes!  Face them, learn from them, and move on!

Finally, to continue the “Too good to be true” analogy, keep reading and I’ll include some FREE business advice  (from some music therapists that have been there! )

Free advice (in no particular order)

How to use your fear – Key Changes Music Therapy

Building Your Personal Brand – Listen, Learn, Music

Silencing Your Inner Critic – Mundana Music Therapy

Introduction to Conga Technique and Play – Music Therapy Drumming (To work out those frustrations after a hard day at work!)

The Therapy Business Blueprint (eBook) – Music Therapy Maven

Music Therapist for the Music Therapist – Music Therapy Musings

Music Therapy and Advocacy (Podcast) - Music Therapy Research Blog

And of course, don’t forget to follow MusicTherapy365

SPECIAL NOTE:  My apologies in advance to fellow music therapy colleagues and music therapy bloggers who weren’t mentioned in this article or “Free advice” section.

Feel free to leave your comments and business ideas.  I’d love to hear them!

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Filed under Business Tools, Conferences, Music Therapy, Organizations, PR/Advertising

Twitter and the power of social networking

I recently attended a blended conference (both onsite and online) called MoodleMoot Canada 2011.  Actually, I attended two of four days of the conference, and followed along on Twitter during the days that I was not able to attend.  It was my first opportunity to use Twitter as a source of information and be a contributor of information.  Similar efforts have taken place during recent music therapy conferences, both national and regional in the U.S. and during the Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT2011).  In fact, it seems like TweetUps (a meeting of individuals on Twitter at a conference) have become increasingly popular.

That’s great but how does it affect me?

1.  You should join Twitter and begin exploring

Twitter is a “microblogging” format.  Basically it means that you can provide small insights or announcements.  (Generally, on Twitter, you are limited to 140 characters).  I personally use Twitter to share professional developments, make professional announcements and share resources that I have found that I believe might be of interest.

2.  What should my username be?

You can make your username anything you wish but remember, you are trying to attract followers.  Some people use their name (e.g.  @RachelleNorman, @michelleerfurt or @KnightMTBC), some people use their business name (@listnlearnmusic) and some people use a pseudynym (@victimorious)

3.  Another use of Twitter – getting feedback or seeking out “experts” on a particular issue that you are facing.

As a recent blog posting highlights, you can send a “shoutout” to either your own followers or Twitter users in general to get an answer to a question, or make a business related announcement.   When you do so, expect quick feedback.

4.  Posting conference updates/presentation highlights.

Like I said, I was able to attend 2 of 4 days of MoodleMoot Canada 2011.  Still, it turns out that I was one of the most active Twitter users, resulting in a place on the top 10 individuals “tweeting” about insights that I was having.  How do I do this? – using a “hashtag”.  Whenever you see a “#” sign, it means that someone has created/is marking a way of following a particular subject or idea (e.g.  To follow tweets by music therapists you might use the hashag #musictherapy).  It is now routine for conference to post an “official” hashtag, that conference attendees can use to post updates (e.g.  #mootca11 or #ocmt2011).

5.  This sounds great, but I want to follow more than one topic/area of interest?

It’s true – the Twitter website is a poor excuse for an interface.  It is VERY “clunky” and not very user-friendly.  The good news – you can use Twitter feed aggregators (software that allows you to follow multiple Twitter feeds).  One of the best, and the one that I use is called Tweetdeck.  Actually, Tweetdeck has recently been purchased by Twitter itself, so maybe their website/interface will be improving shortly.  They are many others (e.g.  Hootsuite) – just Google “Twitter feed aggregators”

6.  What is a “retweet (RT)?

A “retweet” is the reposting, either word-for-word or edited, of a previous “tweet” (post) by someone else.  This can be a way to further your message, or have a new business development shared with a wider audience because something that someone retweets is shared with your network of followers AND the their network of followers.

7.  Can I send private messages to one or more of my followers?

Yes you can!  As long as that person is following you, you can use the format “D: _______” rather than “@_______” to send a private message to one or more individuals.  Another way of more publicly sharing with a group of individuals involves the use of a Twitter tool called “Tweetchat“.  This tool allows you to follow 1 hashtag and carry on a conversation/chat with individuals also following that hashtag.  I also recently discovered another Twitter tool called GroupTweet.  (The use of GroupTweet is well described on their website).

8.  I’m a conference organizer – is there a way to employ Twitter to engage participants?

YES, YES, and YES!  First, set up a conference #hashtag and publicize its’ existence on any literature, website, blog posts, etc. at least 2 weeks prior to the conference and encourage Twitter users to use it throughout the conference.  This allows for a consistent identity/brand and helps to prevent misdirection of tweets.  Secondly, use Tweetchat or GroupTweet to follow “What is being said/posted”.  At the MoodleMoot Canada conference, individuals tweets were highlighted during presentations on a large screen using another Twitter tool called Visible Tweets.  You can also store any tweets about the conference, for later review, using a tool called TwapperKeeper.  Finally, after the conference is over, you can present summaries of posts using tools like Twitter SteamGraphs.

Are you on Twitter right now.  Feel free to send me a message @JLisaMT.  Are you joining Twitter (after reading this article) but not sure where to start/find followers? – send a message to @JLisaMT and I will be happy to share your username/account name with people in my Twitter network.

See you on Twitter!

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Can you feel it?

There is a definite buzz in the air about music therapy!  Can you feel it?

I’m not sure how it started, I only know why – because music therapy works!  Recently, music therapy has been all over the airwaves, the news, in books and in a feature length Hollywood film.  And yet, as a recent discussion on the MUSTHP-L listserv highlighted, many music therapists continue to have to describe and defend their work on a daily basis.  Why is that?  Here are some of my thoughts as well as observations from a student in my “Introduction to Music Therapy” class from this past semester.

1.  Music is universal

The universality of music is wnquestionable.  It has existed in every known culture since the beginning of man even though, curiously, it has no “inherent survival value” like food or shelter  (Davis, Gfeller, Thaut. 2008).  This is both a blessing and a detriment to the understanding of the term, “music therapy (MT)”.  Yes, people understand the term, “music” but that has become synonymous with “entertainment” in today’s modern culture.  Hence, when people hear about MT they immediately think that it is something that is entertaining, not healing – at least in the medical sense.  As one of the class members described,

“I knew from my personal experience with music that it moved me, however I did not know how in depth music therapy really was.”

(A.B.  Used with permission)

2.  Music works with all age groups

Music therapists work with all age groups, from infants in the uterine environment to adults in the last stage of their life.  How can something that works with such a vast range of clients, work in reality?  When music therapy began as an organized profession, it initially began with a psychological focus.  Since that time, specialty areas within the field have grown and expanded tremendously.  Hence, increasingly, music therapists are choosing to work with a particular clientele, rather than attempting to work with a variety of clients, throughout the lifespan.    Some of these include:   work with premature infants (NICU-MT),  neurological rehabilitation (NMT), Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (NR-MT), Therapeutic Drumming, Music and Imagery (Bonny Method of GIM) and Community Music Therapy (CMT).

3.  Music therapists train extensively and must pass rigorous examination

Just as you wouldn’t want to see a doctor who has never attended medical school, you shouldn’t see someone who is calling themselves a music therapist without the proper training.  Sadly, at this time, there is no means of legally protecting the title “music therapist” in either Canada or the United States.  There are ways, however, to determine whether an individual has completed the requisite education and professional training.

In order to become a music therapist, individuals must first complete four years of undergraduate training in music therapy.  This is the minimal standard and many music therapists continue onto graduate level education.  They must also complete an internship of approximately six months duration (1000-1050 hours in North America).  Only then, may they apply to become a Music Therapist Accredited (MTA – Canada) or a Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC, USA).  Before granting these designations, a music therapist must complete additional examinations.  In addition, those designations are only maintained by the ongoing completion of continuing education related to professional practice and skills.

Being a part of their national and/or regional association also means that a music therapist must abide by professional standards of practice and a code of professional ethics.  When a music therapist agrees to take you on as a client, you begin a professional relationship, not a casual or friendly relationship.  As such, there is specific protection of things such as:  patient-therapist confidentiality and protection from abuse in the relationship (financial, physical, emotional, psychological and sexual). By all means, check out your music therapists and ask them about their credentials.  They should be happy to share these with you!

So what can we do as music therapists to improve your understanding of music therapy amongst the general public?

1.  Maintain our memberships in national and regional music therapy associations.

2.  Making the promotion of music therapy a priority in our national and regional music therapy associations.

3.  Open up our newsletters and research to the public through use of vehicles such as YouTube, Blogs, and Creative Commons licensing instead of keeping them locked away behind “member only” walls and proprietary journals.

4.  Continue to respond to questions about the topic – “What is music therapy?” even though we are sometimes “sick” of having to describe and defend our profession.

References

Davis, W. B., Gfeller, K. E, & Thaut, M. H.  (2008).  An introduction to music therapy:  Theory and practice (3rd ed.).  Silver Spring, MD:  American Music   Therapy Association, p. 17.

How can we improve your understanding of music therapy?

Please feel free to comment below.

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