As 2002 draws to a close I have taken some time to look back on this year. It has been a reflective year for me both personally and professionally. This deeper reflexivity no doubt has to do with the changes that have happened in the USA since September of 2001 as well as with the current political climate that is unfortunately leading us to the brink of war. It has led me to think about the role of public versus private discussions. When do we need to say things in a public forum and when is a private conversation more useful?
Seeking more space in my life for thought and reflection I have made several changes and what seemed to be one small change has actually had quite a large impact. This year I began taking the train to my university rather than driving my car. Now that my children are a little bit older and a little less likely to fall ill in the middle of the day I can organize my work agenda around the train schedule. By doing so I have thirty minutes of quiet time at both the beginning and end of my workday. I spend this time reading and reflecting on music therapy - much to the dismay of some of my students.
In the past several months I have read some interesting books and articles during my commute on the train. Darlene Brooks' biographical research on Charles Braswell (2002); Ron Borczon's book on group music therapy; and Alison Davies and Eleanor Richards' book on group music therapy. My responses to these books and articles have caused me to think about the discussions that take place here in the Voices journal. I am reminded of Gary Ansdell's comments about music therapy dialog and debate having "gone global." Indeed it has and clearly some of the topics under debate need and benefit from a pubic form for discussion. One need only review the past issues of Voices to see the various topics that ignite this lively debate!
At the same time this discussion leaves me wondering about more intimate and private discussions. I know that after reading a book or article I have a wide variety of reactions. Sometimes I have questions and I wonder if I really have understood the author's assumptions and message. Sometimes I have very personal reactions of identifying with the author's clinical vignette, or resonating with the researcher's analysis.
As I examine my responses to the various topics that have been generated and I realized that some of my reactions and questions are suitable for a public discussion while others are more suited for a private dialog between the writer and reader. Unfortunately, I also realized that only rarely had I contacted an author I didn't know well to comment on something he or she had written. I feel free to discuss writings with my colleagues who were friends, but only rarely took the risk to email an author or seek someone out at a conference to discuss their work or simply offer a "thank you" for writing something I found to be insightful or moving.
So I am left wondering about the role of the private dialog in music therapy. When are we willing to take a risk and initiate a conversation with someone we don't know well? What purpose does the private conversation serve in our field? What will happen if we initiate these conversations?
I am very much excited by the dialog and debate that is occurring in this journal. I think that having a place for an international public discussion is critical for the development of the field. I also believe that as individuals we can grow through the more private and intimate discussions. As we enter 2003 I hope that we can embrace both the public and private music therapy dialogs. We have so much to learn from each other.
Borczon, Ron (1999). Music Therapy: Group Vignettes. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.
Brooks, Darlene (2002). Charles E. Braswell: A man with a vision. Journal of Music Therapy. Vol 39(2).
Davies, Alison & Richards, Eleanor (2002). Group Music Therapy: Sound Company. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Forinash, Michelle (2002) Discussions - Public or Private?. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2002-discussions-public-or-private