Community music programs are essential parts of any culture. The focus of this blog is to show why these programs are so important. The purpose of this blog is also to describe the benefits of community music programs and the implications they have for music therapists. Music therapist?! Now you may be wondering what a music therapist is and what they do. Music therapy is the use of music to work towards non musical goals. A music therapist is board certified and works in many different areas from hospitals, to schools to private practices. To find more information visit www.musictherapy.org
As the music therapy world continues to evolve, the role of music therapists continues to expand. And since there is still a lot of research being done, there are new techniques and ideas popping up all the time. Community music programs have many benefits not only for the persons involved in the programs but also for the professionals, volunteers and students involved. These groups promote quality of life, socialization and wellness-and the participants receive an abundance of other benefits as bi-products. In many cases, board certified music therapists and or music educators supervise the programs as well as train the volunteers.
Social psychologists as well as many other professionals believe that learning should ultimately be understood within the context of the individual’s social environment. This is one thing we strive for as music therapists…to work towards goals that can transfer to the clients’ daily life. Even when making music alone, there are motivations and internal dialougues that are shaped and influenced by social conditions and circumstances. Although, there is something to be said about making music with a group of your peers. A great value of music is how it bonds people together.
A great aspect of some programs is that they bring together dissimilar people, providing oppurtunities for cultural exchange-broading the idea of community. Because our world is quickly becoming more and more accessible, the idea of community is changing and expanding. There are far more communities now-especially with the new age of technology and the world wide web. So why is having and being part of a community so important? The social environment in which we are in impacts our learning and development in a large way. In order for an area to thrive, a community must be established-a community is a very valuable support system as well as safe environment. Not only that, but they also play a vital role in the preservation of cultures.
What is community music? What does it mean to be a ‘community musician? There are many definitions and gray areas, but in this day and age it is time that the expounding benefits of community music programs be brought to the fore front-and a be seen in a more positive light. Community music is a community that plays music together, Community music happens in the area in which the person lives-their social environment. We can not deny that leading a fulling and healthy life is important-and for many people music is what helps them achieve that. Community music programs are affordable and accessible. We should give them way more credit.
I have begun to try to give these programs a new name. The way I see it-and will show you each week-is that these programs are not strictly music therapy because music is not the tool being used to achieve the goals. Nor are they solely music education, because learning musical skills is not the priority ( although it certainly happens). And they are so much more than just a recreational music experience. They are community music programs. To me a community musician is someone who empowers people through music, promoting their quality of life and encouraging an enriching musical experience in a welcoming and accessible environment.
Each week I will be profiling a different community music program. I will provide links and information about how to get involved with the different programs! Please comment if you are involved already, want to be involved or have more questions.