My memories take me back to 1972. At that time I was a piano student and a music education teacher, and it was also at this time I first heard of music therapy, even though I had been working with music in a special school for mentally handicapped children.
Due to the military government, established since 1964, our main feelings were fear and insecurity. This regime brought fear to Brazilians who couldn't express themselves freely. It was "forbidden" to express the ideas and feelings about reality. The arts flourished in this context and among them music, which became one of the main means of expression. The lyrics of songs were mainly metaphors of the people's suffering and through them, composers expressed their feelings such as fear, protest and hope. (Barcellos, 2002).
In this scenery, the Music Therapy Training at the Conservatorio Brasileiro de Musica of Rio de Janeiro started. The first group of music therapists "finished" [or started!] their studies three decades ago, in 1975. More than celebrate this period it is necessary to think about the responsibility of having so many years of clinical practice, theoretical issues, research and the task of educating other music therapists. First, we have to recognize that these four faces of the diamond which music therapy can be considered didn't exist during these three decades. There was a different development of these instances which can be perceived through time, not only in Rio de Janeiro but also in the others programs established in Brazil.
Recently, many fortnightly columns had as their subject Music Therapy Education, debating the main issues and difficulties (Grocke, 2003; Stige, 2005; Wosch, 2005). Although my aim is not to discuss the same questions raised by Stige and Wosch, because our reality is completely different, I think that we have similarities, maintaining some proportions. My goal is to reflect about these three decades, thinking about advances, difficulties and, even retrocession, and considering this focus a good reason to come back to the subject.
Wosch, in his column, had as its central point the necessity of changes in Music Therapy Education because of standardization of academic grades all over Europe, due to the European Union. (2005). Stige discussed about the most adequate Music Therapy Academic Education we need. (2005). To this I would add: would it be possible to have what we consider the most adequate "model" of Music Therapy Academic Education and does our reality permit this?
Having Music Therapy Academic Education in Brazil as the column's main subject and its "line of time", I will try to reflect about what I consider some relevant issues in every decade.
The first decade: intuition, expression and the clinical practice. Marked by the context above referred, I consider that this was the "decade of sensitivity." Certainly, as a result of this context, the blended areas which Stige refers to in Norwegian Education, since the first Music Therapy Program are: music studies, scientific studies (medical, psychological, and other disciplines) and a "sensitivity area," composed by disciplines as Body Movement and Improvisation with Body and Sonorous Objects. This last area can be seen as an influence of that medium and context and it made the difference between our program and others. In this first decade, the clinical practice was the polishing of the main face of the "diamond," since we can recognize today, it was the most important issue in giving us identity. At that time, Music Therapy was a new area and very close to Musical Education. We had, through the clinical work, to define our boundaries and to strengthen and consolidate our identity.
The second decade: time of theoretical development. With the clinical practice reasonably consolidated our boundaries were clearer, our identity stronger and it was time to ensure practice understanding. To this end, we had to adjust the Program creating a discipline about Theories, Techniques and Music Therapy Methods in which we could give the main aspects which compose this area of the "diamond." Here an issue appeared, which I consider one of the most difficult to solve or to overcome: the use of specialized literature. This problem was raised by Grocke in her recent column about The Influence of Recommended Music Therapy Literature in the Education of Music Therapists (2005). Although the center of Grocke´s column is the responsibility the educators have “in shaping students' perspectives of music therapy when choosing reading assignments”, an issue which deeply I agree with, we have another aspect raised by De Backer and Sutton (2004): the ever significant problem of our students [and professionals] - the difficulties of using English as the second language in reading foreign literature. As these authors say, "those who cannot read these other languages miss a lot of interesting material", and I would add: very important material, in order to learn and to be up to date.
The Latin American literature is still scarce and we must use books, articles and papers coming from abroad. How do we overcome this problem? Do we have to translate the material or summarize the ideas of these authors for the students, in order they can understand their ideas, and learn about music therapy? But, in translating some material, teachers have to work hard and it takes up their time. However, it is the only way to be linked with the best centers of music therapy.
The third decade: the research and government acceptation as a profession. In my opinion this was and remains the most difficult time among the three decades. The Brazilian Union of Music Therapy Associations (UBAM) created a political agenda establishing that: a National Meeting on Research in Music Therapy should be organized every year, in different Brazilian regions where there are Music Therapy Associations and/or programs. Besides that many preparatory courses were offered, in institutions which have programs, with researchers coming from other areas and also with music therapists coming from other countries; and last but not least, a Research Center was created in the Conservatorio Brasileiro de Musica, composed of many research areas around music: musicology, music education and music therapy, following the demands of the Academic Educational Brazilian System and as an example of what exists in Public Universities. With these strategies, the situation is changing gradually though much more has to be done.
Nowadays, our efforts are being made in order to get music therapy recognized as a profession by the Government.
Finally, reading my comments More Reflections on World Congresses, (2005), about Grocke's last column, I realized that this same line I described here was in my reflections about the main subjects presented in the World Congresses. Consequently, perhaps we could say that, with some differences, mainly due to the idiosyncrasies of each country or region, music therapy follows a line which starts in clinical practice, leading to theory and arriving in research, each phase embodying the others.
Three years ago we fulfill an old project which was to organize a Social Music Therapy Clinic, in order to assist mainly the needy from our community and to make possible training in music therapy to our students.
Overcoming the strict demands of the Academic Educational Brazilian System and organizing another level in Music Therapy - the Master's degree - is our present challenge for future development.
I would like to thank my good friend and colleague, music therapist Vera Wrobel, whose music therapy ideas and concepts have nourished my thoughts, enriching my writings and helping me in my task as South America Voices' Editor.
Barcellos, Lia Rejane Mendes (2002). A pioneer in Rio de Janeiro/Brazil. Ceclia Conde interviewed by Lia Rejane Mendes Barcellos. [online] Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved March 1, 2005, from http://www.voices.no/mainissues/Voices2(1)Barcellos.html
Barcellos, Lia Rejane Mendes (2005). More Reflections on World Congresses [Contribution to Moderated Discussions]. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy . Retrieved July 8, 2005, from http://www.voices.no/discussions/discm18_02.html.
De Backer, Jos & Sutton, Julie (2004). Exploring the Problem of English for the non-English Speaker: Two Voices in Dialogue. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from http://www.voices.no/mainissues/mi40004000136.html
Grocke, Denise. (2003). The Influence of Recommended Music Therapy Literature in the Education of Music Therapists. [online] Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved July 1, 2003, from http://www.voices.no/columnist/colgrocke300603.html.
Grocke, Denise. (2005). Reflections on World Congresses in Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved August 12, 2005, from http://www.voices.no/columnist/colgrocke230505.html.
Stige, Brynjulf (2005). Which Academic Education? Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved August 3, 2005, from http://www.voices.no./columnist/colstige040705.html.
Wosch, Thomas (2005). Which Academic Education in Music Therapy Do Wee Need. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved August 3, 2005, from http://www.voices.no/columnist/colwosch060605.html.
Barcellos, Lia Rejane Mendes (2005). Three Decades of Qualified Music Therapists in Brazil. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 16, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2005-three-decades-qualified-music-therapists-brazil