Regularly, I work in two close towns: in Montevideo (Uruguay), where I work on Mondays an Tuesdays, and the rest of the week in Buenos Aires (Argentina), where I live. In the latter there are plenty graduated music therapists and Music Therapy students in three different universities. It is an ever-changing and dynamic world, with continuous activities. Among them, we had the chance of meeting Barbara Wheeler, who came to dictate some courses a couple of weeks ago.
And she was the one who made me realize, within a conversation, the theme I want to discuss.
The Music Therapy course was closed ten years ago in Uruguay. The main cause was the socio-economic crisis that ever since then ruined Latin America. One of its consequences is the small number of Uruguayan music therapists, with only a few working in the profession. In 1991 I held my first course in Montevideo and since then, I have been traveling there on a regular basis. As time went by the music therapists became aware of their situation and had the need of organizing their own permanent training. So in 1998 we created an Experiential Music Therapy group and we worked for four years integrating experience with the deepening of theory.
However, the non-existence of a university course contributed to generate an "endogamous" situation. To get out of this, we began an experience that we called "Laboratory of approach to Music Therapy" in the institution that I run with my colleague Mayra Hugo. The idea was to spread the discipline and also to provide a place to all Uruguayans who were interested in Music Therapy.
The first group started two years ago, and is still working. It is composed by musicians, psychologists, psychomotricists, physicians and university students of these careers. They are all highly interested in Music Therapy. They all dream of having again a university music therapy course. In the meantime, we gather for two hours once a week, and they develop a task that has points of similarity with the one of the music therapists' experiential group. This year, a second group with equal characteristics was created, and there are already other candidates ready to multiply this experience next year. They are mostly people who already have developed their own professions, but they yearn to be music therapists. And meanwhile we are still trying to get any Uruguayan university to open up its doors for a Music Therapy course to exist.
The ones who started first are now discussing which "program" they will develop during next year, while they plan to close this year with an informative activity at a community center of our institution's neighborhood.
When we are immersed in something, we sometimes loose perspective of its own dimension. Thanks to Barbara, who joined us in one of this encounters with these people as patient as enthusiastic, we noticed that this is an atypical situation. Anyway, it might be possible to multiply this idea in those places where even if there are no Music Therapy training course yet, there are people aching for them.
Schapira, Diego (2003) Approaching Music Therapy: A Different Way to Experience Our Discipline. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2003-approaching-music-therapy-different-way-experience-our-discipline