A few weeks ago, I moved to my new house in a small village called Givaat Yeshaayahu, which is located in the Jerusalem Mountains and surrounded by nature. When I wake up in the morning, I hear the birds singing and the wind brushing through the leaves. During the day I can see and hear my new neighbors, dogs playing and sometimes barking and cats miauwing. At dusk I can see the shepherd with his herd, at nights I can hear the jackals howling and pipettes watering the grass.
For 25 years I lived in Rishon Le Zion, one of the biggest cities in Israel. Like many other cities here, it was a small town 50 years ago. When I first moved to my apartment in Rishon, it was a quiet place. Every morning, when I woke up, I heard the birds sing. but it changed. From a small place it became a crowded, noisy city. A main road was built right under my windows. The noise of the cars and buses and the polluted air became unbearable. I could not keep my windows open and enjoy the trees. I found myself closing all the windows and hiding in my apartment.
In my apartment I had my music room. This is where I worked privately as a music therapist - did clinical work and gave supervision. I liked my music room. It was a small, cozy room, with my piano and many other instruments. It had a nice atmosphere and my clients and supervisees felt good there. However, I hardly played the piano for my own enjoyment. It felt too confined.
Now, in my new place, I don't have a "music room". I put the piano and my musical instruments in my living room, which has a big glass door and big windows facing nature. The outside is a natural continuation of the living room. There is no real boundary between inside and outside. So, I don't have a "clinic" or a "closed music room" in my new home, but I've been playing the piano ever since I moved here. The open space feels different to me. I enjoy making music with the birds, watching the trees move their leaves from side to side. A few days ago I hosted the improvisation group I belong to. Usually we meet at the university, but this time we met here, and 5 people improvised in my living room. It was a very different experience, to make music together in my new home, where the neighbors could see and hear us, and the sounds we made inside intermingled with the sounds from the outside.
This move has its implications on my feelings and needs in terms of my private practice. Now I have an open space. Ever since I moved here I feel that I can't, maybe even don't want to work in the same way as before. My new space brings a new vision. The separation from the outside is transparent, which means that people in the outside can not only hear the music but also see who is making it. This space, unlike the closed music room in my old apartment, is open, friendly and inviting. I feel I can invite people from the outside to participate in the music making.
My vision of music therapy is expanding. Now I have the possibility to make music with people in my surrounding environment. Together we can experience the power of the combination of music, nature and open space individually and on each other. As Small (1998) said already, taking part in a musical act is of central importance to our humanness. Understanding "musicking" is part of our understanding ourselves and our relationships with other people.
I am not alone in my vision. In fact, there is a whole movement that calls for getting out from "behind closed doors" to "Community Music Therapy". In the forward to a new book by this name (Pavlicevic & Ansdell, 2004), Even Ruud acknowledges the fact that "music therapists are now on the way to using music to bridge the gap between individuals and communities, to creating a space for common musicking and sharing of artistic and human values" (Ruud, 2004, p. 11-12).
I am writing this column just before "Rosh Hashana" - the beginning of the Jewish year. One of my wishes for the new year is to make a lot of music and share it with others. I would like to take this opportunity and wish us all a very good and productive year, with lots of light, creativity, joy and peace.
Pavlicevic, Mercédès & Ansdell, Gary (2004). Community Music Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Small, Christopher (1998). Musicking - The Meanings of Performing and Listening. Hanover NH: Wesleyan University Press.
Amir, Dorit (2004). Changes, Transformations: The Impact of Leaving the City on Music Making and Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2004-changes-transformations-impact-leaving-city-music-making-and-music-therapy