Uruguay is a very small country in South America. It is located right between Brazil and Argentina and has a population of approximately 3 million people. The capital city is Montevideo, a coastal city in which half of the population of the country lives. Most of the activity held around Music Therapy takes place in Montevideo.
With most of the issues that have to do with Uruguay's history one could say that whatever happens with our neighbors sooner or later has repercussion in our life. This is so with Music Therapy too. Music Therapy appeared in Uruguay at the late 1960s - almost by the same time as it appeared in Brazil and Argentina - thanks to the enormous interest and vocation of a teacher who worked with disabled children, Ms. Lyda Florez. She started studying by herself and was looking for people with similar interests in the region. In 1969 she started the Uruguayan Music Therapy Association (ASUM), an organization that since then has been doing a very important spreading work in the community. Florez traveled, exchanged experiences in different countries, and caught the interest of other professionals with whom she started, in 1982, the first and only training program in the country. This training program was offered at a private institution, the "Center for the Arts." Around 15 music therapists graduated from this institution, which had at first a 3 years program that soon became a 4 years program.
In 1992 the Music Therapy department looks for its independence, and so the "First Uruguayan Music Therapy School" (PEMU) was started, with a training program that offered a 2 years course for people who had already another profession related to education or health. This school had to close its doors in 1995, due to financial problems. It never had any subventions or financial support of any kind.
During all this years, ASUM has done a very good job organizing workshops, permanent training short courses, and symposiums for graduates. The "Foro Rioplatense de Musicoterapia" is an important event, which involves and is attended by professionals of Brazil and Argentina, besides Uruguay. Renown Music Therapists from the region as Lía Rejane Mendes Barcellos, Cecilia Conde, Cléo Correia , Ronaldo Milleco (Brazil), Dr. Rolando Benenzon, Gabriela Wagner, Diego Schapira, Patricia Pellizari, Marcos Vidret, and Ofelia Herrendorf (Argentina) have been invited to present their work. With this Conference, which is held almost every year since 1995, ASUM has invited the Music Therapy professional community of the region to think about Music Therapy and Music Therapists, from different angles. That is why each Conference's name and theme has been very relevant.
(*Rioplatense: from the "Río de la Plata" (the Silver River), which separates Argentina from Uruguay.)
Uruguay is part of the Latin-American Music Therapy Committee (CLAM), since its very beginning. In the last Latin-American Congress held in Buenos Aires last April, Uruguay was named as the host country for the next Congress which will be held in Montevideo, August 2004. There is already a Commission from ASUM working with its organization.
The fact that there is no training program functioning right now makes it hard for the professional music therapists to insert in the community. They don't have official recognition, which makes the discipline not very well known, and therefore not very demanded. In spite of this situation, most of the Music Therapists that graduated from PEMU work as such, in private or public institutions. Some Music Therapists have been working lately in institutions, being part of interdisciplinary teams. This fact has allowed them to make very important contributions to the integral assistance of some client populations.
In the last few years, the activity around Music Therapy in Uruguay has been enriched by the appearance of working groups and institutions chaired by Music Therapists.
ADIM develops its own Method, the Plurimodal Method in Music Therapy. As an institution, it is interested in establishing contact and agreements with other similar institutions, from Uruguay and from other countries. Translations, publications, seminars, press, are some of the activities that are held there, with the intention of helping in the diffusion, the growth and development of Music Therapy in the country and in the region.
Uruguayan Music Therapists studied the Benenzon Model, and it was the only one we knew until a few years ago. Thanks to the exchange with Argentina and Brazil, the development of communications, our presence at World Congresses, regional and international events, and the existence of the Theoretical Models Study Group started by Diego Schapira almost 4 years ago, our landscape has been enlarged. As I mentioned before, The Plurimodal Method, which is inscribed within the Analytical Method, is being developed and practiced by a few Uruguayan Music Therapists.
Uruguay is actually "trapped" in the fact of having more than 30 years or history around Music Therapy in a country where there is not a training program, where the discipline is not very well known, and where there are just a few professionals working who graduated from PEMU.
This leads us to the need of growing internally as a professional community - that is, being up to date, specialized and knowing very well what happens in the rest of the world - while at the same time having to start almost from the beginning in what has to do with spreading information of what Music Therapy is.
Low budgets for educational programs, a quite traditional cultural profile, disregard of the discipline in academical environments, are some of the reasons that have made the development of Music Therapy in Uruguay a long and winding road. We are living through a very important regional economical crisis, which does not make things easier.
Our commitment and challenge today is to generate in our country, with the work we are doing in different places to improve the quality of life of the people we work with, the demand of Music Therapy professionals. This task will be essential to awaken and lead a lot of people's interest in music and health.
Our big goal today has to be to forge the appearance of a Music Therapy training program within a University. A training place is a natural place for academical encounters, for exchanges, for confrontations, for growing. We find that there is an increasing interest in the community around Music Therapy, and the chance that we can have our dream come true depends exclusively upon us.
ASUM - Asociación Uruguaya de Musicoterapia:firstname.lastname@example.org
CITAC - Centro de Investigación y tratamiento del área corporal:email@example.com
Programa ADIM - Asistencia, Desarrollo en Investigación en Musicoterapia:firstname.lastname@example.org
Hugo, Mayra (2002) Music Therapy in Uruguay: A Long and Winding Road. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country/monthuruguay_july2002.html