International Music and Health Conference – September ’08

As we have already crept into October it’s about time I wrote something about the Music and Health Conference I attended 9th-10th September at Folkestone University Centre, home to the Sidney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health.

In some ways, it feels better to reflect on the conference after an interval, in order to relate more simply my key learning points from the 2 days.

1. People are so friendly!

Of course they are. But I had not quite anticipated people’s willingness to be phoned out of the blue by a novice asking daft questions, and to answer them. I am greatly encouraged by several conversations I have had since the conference resulting in oportunities to shadow other practitioners and to discuss facilitation styles. Certainly, my experiences of the conference have taught me to be absolutely bold and to just pick up the phone.

2. Community is an important dimension in Music Therapy.

Dr Gary Ansdell, in his key note presentation, drew together the practices of music therapy and community music as being in the same continuum, or under the umbrella term ‘social musicianship’ – it was both motivating and deeply affirming. I feel I have so much to learn from the practice of music therapists – working with the existing musicality of the client, rather than pasting music on top of them. He said of music therapists and community musicians “we need to share the territory and draw a shared map” – Bring it on!

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