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Indigenous influences on music therapy


Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School: School of Creative Industries
Course: MA Music Therapy
Category: Music and performing arts

16 November 2022

In November, I celebrate and honor Native American History Month.

As an Indigenous American, this is one of my favourite opportunities to share about my heritage. In my tribe, we have used songs for healing purposes for thousands of years. We have designated Song Healers, and these songs come to them from the “Celestial Kingdom” to help the members of the tribe.

While I grew up mostly removed from my Indigenous family, when I took on the task of reconnecting with my heritage, so many parts of myself made sense. I have always loved to sing and have been in choirs for most of my life. When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a therapist because I loved the idea of supporting others through difficult times, and I knew I did not want to go into music performance because of how competitive it can be.

When I first heard about music therapy, I knew that was the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I think a lot about how if I was born in a different time or was raised with my indigenous practices if I would have become a Song Healer, but I found this path in the “modern world” I was born into, and I know this is my calling.

I just recently started to learn how to play the native flute, and I look forward to using that in music therapy sessions as I think it has such a relaxing sound to it. I try to incorporate elements of my culture into my practice as I think it makes me a stronger music therapist, and I know my family and tribe are cheering me on from far and wide.

Quick Facts on Native American History Month:

  • There are over 570 federally recognized tribes just in the United States alone
  • The Cherokee and Navajo Nations are two of the largest tribes in the US
  • People have been living in the Americas for over thirteen thousand years

Dominique studies a Music Therapy MA at ARU in Cambridge. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


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