The past several months have been quite interesting in the US. We have recently re-elected our President to serve another term of office. It was quite an intense campaign to say the least. The weeks leading up to the election were filled with supporters of both candidates being quite adamant that their candidate was by far the better choice to lead our country. I have close friends and colleagues who supported these each of these opposing sides. I witnessed much heated debate at parties, gatherings and even the school bus stop.
This election has caused me to step back and begin to think about music therapy. It has brought up questions about the relationship between music therapy and politics. Obviously I am writing from the perspective of an American music therapist and these questions reflect that. I am however also quite interested in how these questions might be answered in other countries.
Is there a relationship between music therapy and politics? Should there be one? Do music therapists believe our national politics impact our profession? Are music therapists politically aware and active? Do we avoid politics believing that being part of a "helping profession" somehow removes us or puts us above the fray of politics? Is there a predominant political voice of music therapists - are we more liberal or more conservative? Does this matter? Should it matter?
There are some music therapists who have dealt directly with these questions. In the moderated discussion of Voices, Joe Moreno (January 17, 2003) Edith Boxill and Cella Shieffelin (March 7, 2003) and Edith Boxill (April 8, 2003) have all contributed to the topic of Music Therapy, Peace and War. Yet, these columns have elicited no discussion. The stances these writers have taken are decisive, yet no one has responded either positively or negatively. Likewise, the timely and important discussion on feminism by Hadley and Edwards (2004), which has inherent political implications, has also elicited no discussion. I wonder why.
I wonder whether we, as professionals, feel marginalized and believe that taking a political stance (especially one that may now be considered a minority stance) may only increase our sense of isolation. Maybe it is too much of a risk. Maybe some of us think our voices don't matter. Maybe some of us are politically active but believe that politics should be kept separate from our profession roles. Maybe we really don't care.
I think it is time to begin some discussions.
Hadley, Susan & Edwards, Jane (2004). Sorry for the Silence: A Contribution From Feminist Theory to the Discourse(s) Within Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy Retrieved November 13, 2004, from http://www.voices.no/mainissues/mi40003000152.html
Forinash, Michelle (2004). Music Therapy and Politics - Do They Mix?. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 18, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2004-music-therapy-and-politics-do-they-mix