I was very interested in reading Barbara Wheeler's last column about powerlessness (Wheeler 2005). Yes, there seem to be a lot of moments in every university teachers' and researchers' life, being powerless and experiencing timelessness. Of course in every job you do, home, at work, with relatives, everyone will feel powerless, if she or he does it with her or his heart, does it very intensively with forgetting her- or himself. Such special moments we try to experience also together with our clients, looking for new perspectives, for new experiences, for richness of every once inner world.
And the new can only arise from a crises, we feel for instance in powerlessness. These experiences are very individual experiences, and every one, who experienced it, can talk about the advertisement words: you will feel the difference.
From my point of view these very individual experiences seem to be also the kernel of Community Music Therapy (CMT). Sorry, because of powerlessness I didn't read all texts about CMT, also not all here at Voices. In my mind I have especially the figure of one of Gary Ansdell's very first articles about CMT published here at Voices (Ansdell 2002). He showed in it the polarity between music psychotherapy and CMT with the individual experience on the one side and on the other side the social experience. Concerning this I had very much in my mind Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, the famous German sociologist of the Frankfurt School, who had to leave Germany in the 30-ies, lived in California for some time, and returned to Germany in the sixties. He was a man, who could not understand, why US-American music sociologists searched the broadcast for the most listened music. For Adorno music was a holy thing, something he admired and he thought about being very elite. However, in his "Aesthetic theory" (Adorno 1993) he wrote one statement about art as "social negativity of the social system". What he meant with this, was following: Adorno saw the composer or musician as a person, who is creating alone her or his products. However, into these products came all social experiences of one person. Adorno analysed music from the middle age, music from baroque, classical music, and so on, and he found in its inner musical structures the structures of the societies or culture they came from, even if every composer created her or his music alone. In the end it is an individual experience, the composer and the listener or player have. In music we can experience the very unique phenomenon, that some people play together and every one does what she or he wants (Schwabe & Haase 1998, Göber-Vogel 1999). In the end it is the individual experience which counts in musical experience and everyone can feel her or his difference in it. And this seems to be the kernel of all musical experience.
Of course, you can say, these are ideas from the ivory tower of science. But, also in very current empirical research these phenomenon are results of studies. De Nora (2001) wrote about the individual experience of young human being's listening to music in the US. And De Nora adds a very interesting result: listening to music took adolescents away from the very strong duties of the social system, young people feel separated, they feel free while listening to their music. Here music indeed seems to be a social negativity of the social system, because the music the adolescents are listening to is music which is listened to by millions of young human beings. However, in every individual listening young people feel autonomy much more, then in every other experience. That is a very strong result. And I can add here very personal intercultural experiences of the last year. After the wonderful world congress in Brisbane I spent two more weeks in Australia. We were fascinated by the warm welcoming of Australian people, we never know before. Especially in the playground children played each other, not mainly parents with one child, like in Germany. Also the first question of another mother or father in the playground was: "What is her first name?" That means, they were interested in her individuality. The first question in German playgrounds is: "How old is she?" That means how can I compare her with my daughter or son with the expected social development. These very strong social requirements are incredible. They are very soft and you can not feel them immediately. However, it leads to pressure, young US adolescents seems to free with listening to their music. Moreover concerning the last playground example: The phenomenon continues, when we made several times on German playgrounds the experience, when there was a little wood house, infants, who sat in it, cried: "Go away, this is my house!" We were very lucky missing this experience this summer in down under at all. The phenomenon we can feel here is, that the social system and the social polarity lead to isolation in current middle European societies. The social system seems to be the negativity of it self.
With this example beyond music therapy I want to go one more step ahead. One of my students wrote an excellent thesis with the title "Chances of participation beyond therapy" (Völker 2004). In her style of thinking, which arise from research of Integrative psychotherapy and CMT, I could name individual music therapy in closed rooms, at fixed times, as artificial in the meaning of social determination. Finally this point would underline the social (artificial, civilized) experience of such situations contrary to the individual polarity of music psychotherapy in the above mentioned reference. On the other side CMT should offer all the differences of human beings, and the unique musical experience playing individually at the same time with other people, having very individual experiences while listen to the same music. This would underline the individual (musical) experience. However, in the end this phenomenon determines music as an individual negativity of individuality, and it becomes really a social experience, where everyone can feel the difference, where individual differences are accepted, and where individuals create their community. Such a community or social micro system is not determined by expected behaviour, by the fear, of being special or individual, by TV, by learned language, by industrial trusts (Wosch 2003). Such a community is created by their participants. May be, this can only exist in the very special moment of music and finally we have to confirm Adorno, who wrote, the better, the perfect world could be realized on the stage (Adorno 1992). However, we can try to bring the stage from the concert hall to everybody and everywhere. However, we can try to broaden the experience outside the stage and the music.
Adorno, T.W. (1992): Einleitung in die Musiksoziologie. Frankfurt/Main.
Adorno, T.W. (1993): Ästhetische Theorie. Frankfurt/Main.
Ansdell, G. (2002): Community Music Therapy and the Wind of Change A Discussion Paper. In: Kenny, C. & Stige, B. (Eds.): Contemporary Voices in Music Therapy, pp. 109-142. Oslo: Unipub forlag.
Göber-Vogel, U. (1999): Seminar on Active Group Music Therapy. Magdeburg [unpublished].
Ivannikova, M.A. (2005): Powerlessness or Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom in Music Therapy? Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrievd from http://www.voices.no/discussions/discm49_01.html.
Schwabe, C. & Haase, U. (1998): Sozialmusiktherapie. Crossen.
Schwabe, C. (1997): Aktive Gruppenmusiktherapie. Crossen.
Völker, U. (2004): Chance zur Teilhabe über die Therapie hinaus : Musiktherapie zwischen kultur- therapeutischen Fragestellungen und (psycho-) therapeutischem Selbstverständnis auf der Grundlage Integrativer Therapie.Thesis, Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal.
Wheeler, B. (2005): On Powerlessness. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrievd from http://www.voices.no/columnist/colwheeler051205.html.
Wosch, T. (2003): Der Weg zur Freude Musikrezeption, Improvisation und Emotion im Kontext aktueller Musikvermittlung. In: Kafurke, R. & Petrat, N. & Schöne, K. (Eds.): Mit Spaß dabei bleiben Musikästhetische Erfahrungen aus der Perspektive der Forschung, pp. 95-108. Essen.
Wosch, Thomas (2005). The Individual Kernel of Community Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2005-individual-kernel-community-music-therapy