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25th anniversary of MA Music Therapy at ARU

Published: 24 October 2019 at 16:41

Delegates at MA Music Therapy 25th anniversary conference

Music Therapy degree celebrates its 25th anniversary with a two-day conference

The conference, held on 6-7 September 2019, showcased the work of music therapists who completed their Masters or PhD music therapy training at ARU.

Along with members of the Cambridge Institute of Music Therapy Research (CIMTR), 21 visiting presenters representing 17 countries joined the conference to share and discuss their contributions to music therapy, illustrating the international impact the MA programme has had since its foundation.

The weekend was a fond reflection of the 25-year history of the course, with the delegates, including the founders, lecturers and former students sharing their experiences of the growth and changes of the MA over time. These experiences were linked with the theme of the conference, ‘impact, change and developments in music therapy around the world’, an exploration of the varying levels of establishment of music therapy across the globe. Presentations gave an all-encompassing view of the music therapy profession, highlighting the many roles of music therapists as clinicians, educators, entrepreneurs, advocators and researchers.

Exciting progress – such as the first music therapy post in Trinidad and Tobago and advocacy in Japan and Indonesia – highlighted the challenges of developing music therapy in the early stages of the profession. Education and in particular the foundation of new music therapy training courses was a common thread amongst presentations, with alumni pioneering courses in Thailand and Slovenia. Other delegates shared journeys of entrepreneurship, from setting up leading music therapy companies in the UK to thriving private practices in Canada, while ground-breaking advances in neo-natal music therapy in Colombia served as a significant example of the research occurring around the world.

As well as being a fantastic occasion for sharing knowledge and practice, the conference was also an opportunity for exciting reunions and joyful reflections as former students reconnected years after their training. Also cherished were the memories of those who were not with us, including remembering Professor Tony Wigram and his contributions to the programme and the field.

Celebrations were also in order to wish Professor Amelia Oldfield a happy retirement, culminating in the publication of The British Journal of Oldfield, a fond reflection of Amelia’s inspiration to music therapists and impact on the lives of many music therapy recipients.

A huge thank you to the conference committee (Helen Odell-Miller, Amelia Oldfield, Helen Loth, Fliss Alwell, Jodie Bloska and Emma Su) who put a tremendous amount of work into conceptualising, organising and running the event both behind the scenes and on the stage.

We look forward to seeing what the next 25 years has in store for the MA Music Therapy at ARU.