June 24th we lost Tony Wigram. Many of us lost a very good friend, a colleague, a teacher, a researcher and past-president. From my point of view he was a great music therapist, may be the greatest ever.
I have never experienced in my life another human being, who lived every second of his or her life so intensively and enjoyed this so much (fulfilling the words of the family in the service in St. Albans: In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years). May be he did this because he very early in his life was faced by the experience of how short life can be. Him were given by God so many talents in music, in teaching, in therapy, in research, in administration and political issues, and he developed all of these talents and made from all of these even much more for his clients, for his students and for his colleagues. One example is his teaching, which was so impressive. With an exciting and outstanding level of energy he was adapting and touching with passion and making growth in every student he worked with, adapting to every culture using different English in different countries where he worked. Overnight he read my PhD-thesis in German and the next morning we were discussing it, even so we never talked in German to each other, with the exception of the rule that he loved some special German words like: “Ach So”, the illuminating German verbal expressing, if you catch a change of perspective and understand from this, what is going on. In this for me was also he: a never ending interest, intention and curiosity, what means from my point of view also sympathy to most of all around him. This could be music therapy, this could be music, this could be history, this could be food, this could be family and friends, this could be supermarkets, and and and.
For me he was free of any ideology, accepting every kind of research and working with and looking for every benefit it can give to us. In Washington D.C. in 1999 he brought together, as an example of difference and unity, five worldwide approaches of music therapy, to sit and discuss side by side and bring each its special benefit to our clients. Here I could learn a lot and in some ways also change my perspectives. Moreover, for me this means not working with research and academic professions in ivory towers and only as a mean of power. For me this means looking for and finding, what we need in practice. In that way I also understood Tony’s requirement acknowledging normal standards in music therapy in Europe. This means, with music therapy we are not special first of all, in music therapy we have to fulfil all requirements, which have also medicine, psychology, language therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy or pedagogy and music psychology to fulfil. This includes also RCTs and laboratory settings. I love the idea, that music therapy is not more but also not less than a normal health and social service profession. As a fighter for this, and a very successful one, I experienced Tony.
It is amazing that also I remember now my very intensive work with him together, in which he was sharing his energy with me. In only 12 years we met and worked together in Washington, Oxford, London, Cambridge, Jyvaeskylae, Veldhoven, Naples, Brisbane, Buenos Aires, Cadiz and every year in minimum once in Magdeburg or Wuerzburg and beside this several times in Aalborg. We did a book together, we discussed and developed research projects we planned details of my MA in music therapy for clients with special needs and for clients with dementia, etc. etc. It seems to be breathtaking, but it was fun, expiring and so good. And this was in the end of the day only a very little amount of time of Tony’s and my total working time. With other colleagues he worked much more together. But it was such an important and intensive time and, Tony, such an amazing good time with lots of benefits for all.
Another point is the integration of all work and family. There was and is no separation, it is all together, it is one life. Jenny and Robert and Michael and David were every time a part of all meetings and working and developing together. Also my family was always a part of every time we were together. It was something like coming home, where ever it took place, in England or Germany or other places in the world. It was and is in the end the work of all together. When Tony was with our little children he himself became a child and all together enjoyed these moments very much in dancing, playing, making music. When I write this, I am listening to Elgar’s Cello Concerto. This music Tony presented very proudly with a video-recording of Michael as cello soloist. It is from my point of view so powerful, and calm, and passionate, and grand, and sad.
In the end there is sadness and deep mourning and missing. It is the pause. It is the never coming back. It is the passing away, the not imaginable end. We got energy and tasks and passion, going on as colleagues and friends. But the silence for a moment and the tears are over there in St. Albans and all over the world, moving and touching so much.
Post Scriptum: When I write this, the people of Norway experience an unbelievable tragedy. Norway, where VOICES comes from, is mourning about so many young men and women, who lost their lives by being killed in such a stupid way. We can give life and we can take life, but we can’t possibly do the last one. Nobody and no reason in the world can offer the opportunity of killing people. Some of them got help. But ALL should live. We are with the people of Norway we stand beside all of them. It cannot bring all the lives back. So it is nearly nothing. But maybe, we can share a little the mourning and being shocked and anger and not accepting murdering anyone with the people of Norway and make feeling them in all this not alone. The pictures I see now and the emails I get from Norway now seem to say, that Norwegians “make a triumph from a tragedy” (Frankl), a triumph of democracy, of love and of humanity.
Wosch, Thomas (2011). May be the greatest ever. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2011-may-be-greatest-ever