Venezuela is located in the north part of South America, with Caracas as its capital city. Its population is approximately 25.000.000. The country offers a vast range of possibilities for all tastes, one can choose between beaches, mountains, plains, deserts and jungles. From west to east, the country has 3.000 kilometers of Caribbean beaches, tropical sun, white, red or silver sands, ones with quiet and calm waters, others with huge waves, which are ideal for water sports. Venezuelan Caribbean has islands and islets of incomparable beauty. Both Margarita Island (called the Caribbean Pearl) and the National Park Los Roques, the only coral reef of the South Caribbean, stand out for their size. The great variety of mountainous relieves provides different kinds of weather, particularly on the Andes Region, where there are very high peaks, like the Espejo de la Sierra Nevada Peak, which is reached through Mérida's cable car, the highest and longest in the world! To the south, we can find the tepuyes. One of them, the Auyantepuy, holds the world's highest waterfall, the Angel Fall or Churúm Meru, 979 meters of height.
The wild Venezuelan nature is much more than wonderful landscapes to delight oneself. It is an extraordinary natural lung and a huge and valuable reserve of drinking water. Besides, it is the home for more than a dozen aboriginal ethnic groups, each one with its own language, ancestral culture and musical richness.
Venezuelan music is then, fragmented in a very singular way, due to this geographic diversity. We can find the "joropo" in the plains, the greatest representative of the musical heritage, legacy of the colonization played with harp, cuatro (a small four stringed guitar) and maracas, which is rhythmically very rich. It expresses the daily tasks of the "llanero" (inhabitant of the plains) and it is the best well-known rhythm outside the country, although we also have three other varieties: central, oriental and guayanian joropos. In the coasts, African influence is huge, coated with polyrhythm and played with handcrafted membrane instruments. In the Andean region, the waltz predominates, with high poetic content and exquisite melodies inspired by the beauty of its landscapes. The western region has the jota, the malagueña and the polo margariteño. In all these, the mandolin (instrument with eight pairs of strings) is the soloist instrument. From the south, we get the Calypso, musical genre starring in Carnival's celebrations in Bolivar State, with its origins in Antillean music, brought to the south of Venezuela by immigrants. It traditionally has a slow, lilting rhythm, including chorus sung in English and in patois (French creole). It developed its own characteristics in our country, like the presence of the chorus and the use of the cuatro, which make it different from other Caribbean countries' calypso. In the east of the country, we find the gaita zuliana, a musical genre of folk origin that has turned to be a commercial product currently. As you may observe, we count with a great variety and exuberance of easily integrated but until now, poorly exploited musical styles for the Music Therapy practice.
The development of Music Therapy in Venezuela is quite poor; if we consider the Venezuelan Association of Music therapy (ASOVEMUS) has more than 30 years of existence. It was created at the end of the 60's. However, we can observe very punctual achievements, like the use of music therapy in a few Clinics with recovery rooms, which are specially equipped for music therapy activities. Music therapists also intervene in the treatment of people with psychological problems (mental disorders, emotional distress) learning disabilities, ADD and hyperactivity. We have to mention research made by medicine students in pre-surgical patients and hospital areas, with very enriching outcomes, and recent practice in early stimulation. As an example, we can mention the design of a music therapy program to diminish anxiety in pre-surgical patients of the Dr. Luis Gómez López Hospital, in Barquisnieto Edo. Lara, done by the Superior Technicians in Medicine Cerino and Escalona. http://www.clinicalafloresta.com/tecn.htm
In my research through diverse regions of the country, to write this article, and wanting to get in touch with the current situation, I can observe the precarious state in which music therapy is submerged in Venezuela. Even more, I dare to say we are in "dipers", considering the following factors that would be retarding its development:
On the other hand, through these last years a lot of pseudo- music therapists have appeared, focused in esoteric practices, which have reduced credibility to the scientific basis that sustains this art-science, causing an important segregation of music therapy in academical extents.
It is easy to quantify the reduced number of professional music therapist, which are dedicated to work in Health Services ( Hospitals, Homes, Reeducation centers, Special Education Institutions, among others), or with multidiscipline groups. Generally, most of them are in private practice, give conferences or teach in different levels of the educational system. Their work includes different populations, from children in their classroom to people with psychiatric disorders.
The different institutions that offer courses or "diplomados" are:
The only requirement to access the Music therapy University courses is to have an undergraduate degree.
Venezuelan Association for Music Therapy (ASOVEMUS) President: Aury Tovar. Email: email@example.com"
Yermis L. Henríquez T (2005) Music Therapy in Venezuela. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country-of-the-month/2005-music-therapy-venezuela