So, I was at the baseball game the other night, crashing the hospitality suite of a major telecommunications company, when two guys from San Francisco started up a conversation. They asked how we were affiliated with the telecommunications company, and we admitted that we were guests of someone who worked there but was unable to be present. That started the conversation about what we actually did for our livings. They thought we were all teachers, but I piped up and stated that I was a therapist.
Eventually, I got into a conversation about music therapy. The gentleman who was most interested in my job made the conversation completely about himself...how he used music in his life to do different things.
I started thinking about the conversations that I have had in the past about music therapy. Most of the time, you can connect with someone who has no idea when you use their own experience as examples. The song they learned in 5th grade about the layers of a plant stem, any song from Schoolhouse Rock, the ABC song - all of those are personal experiences of music that are easily accessed and understood.
Isn't that the way it is with music therapy? The full power of the medium must be experienced to be fully understood. Talking about it without experience is not enough. The process has to be engaged in for the medium to become real.
I like to put administrators and others through experiential activities when I am presenting about music therapy. I will do preference surveys, will ask audience members to identify extramusical associations with music, and will play Television Name That Tune to illustrate the general accessibility and ease in remembering music. We have fun, but I guarantee that my presentation is memorable - they tell me, often many years later, about how they remember and appreciate my presentations.
I know that my facility has a long history of music therapy. This is due to the dedication and interest of our founders, and specifically, the Ursaline Sisters who founded our facility. They recognized the importance of music and the way that music can access different responses. When I have a rough day with an administrator who has no clue what I do (beyond singing happy songs with happy children returning to class after group therapy), I remember that music therapy will be in the facility long after the administrator has left the position. I also remember former adminstrators who have emailed me and exclaimed over the lack of music therapy in their subsequent facilities. I have been told that music therapy positions have been started because of my presentations and demonstrations of the power of music in the lives of my clients as well as in the lives of everyday others.
I do not know what will become of the gentleman from San Francisco who spoke with me about music therapy, but I know that a seed has been planted there.
You never know when that seed will sprout.