Community music therapy as participatory practice in a child welfare setting – a Norwegian case study

Community music therapy as participatory practice in a child welfare setting – a Norwegian case... Abstract In this article, I will focus upon a case narrative described as ‘Trine’, and her participation in a community group called Come Closer. I relate the discussion within a broader context of Community work and Community music therapy. The article combines vignettes taken from music therapy practice and various theoretical views. I argue that music has a potential as a force for social change and spans an unlimited number of combinations. Music can function as a practice that involves the activity of personal reflection processes and music can function as a sociopolitical force, able to change social realities and alter power relations. In sum, the article concludes that three strategies which might be appropriate for further investigation and implementation regarding music as resource in child welfare work. First, there is the need for an individual strategy. The individual strategy includes person-oriented activities such as conversation, song writing, and the use of music technology. Second, there is the need for a community-oriented strategy wherein activities such as playing in a band or song writing comes into focus. Third, there is a need for a strategy which implies working with networks, social environments, and power relations. The third strategy is very closed related to ideals taken from a traditional community work perspective, whereas ideas such as Arnsteins ladder of participation is prominent. How can anybody else like me when I don’t even like myself? When nothing goes my way and everything turns grey? I need some kind of push to get me out of here (Excerpt taken from the song ‘Is there somebody there for me’? by Trine) Introduction The above lyric is borrowed from a song written by ‘Trine’. Through the song, written in a music workshop called ‘Come Closer’ (described later in this article). Trine expressed thoughts and feelings related to sorrow and low self-esteem. The song was performed in front of a live audience – peers, family, and friends. The performance gave Trine a possibility to communicate to her social environment a message about her loss and suffering. Trine’s participation in Come Closer can be seen as examples of what is labelled as community music therapy and community work. Community work can be described as a meta-theoretical perspective on how young person’s participation can be developed, supported, and evaluated within the modern welfare state (Sudmann and Henriksbø, 2011). On the other hand, community music therapy is a perspective within the field of music therapy that is ecological in a Bronfenbrenner way, and seeks to find ways of using music as force for the promotion of health and participation (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Stige and Aarø, 2012). In the perspective of community music therapy, music is more than a stimulus to which humans react, or a vehicle for action and interaction; it is a multidimensional and continuously changing milieu where an aggregate of biological, psychological, and sociocultural processes interact (Stige and Aarø, 2012, s 138). Trine’s story is also relevant as seen from a human rights perspective. Previously, I have highlighted the importance of music as a tool and medium for increasing the awareness of the rights of children, especially regarding those with disabilities as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) (Hart, 1992; Percy Smith, and Thomas, 2009; Krüger, 2012). The UNCRC can be considered a useful and guiding Document both as a means for developing music therapy practices as well as developing music therapy theory regarding children and young people (Krüger and Stige, 2014). In my doctoral thesis, a qualitative study consisting of interviews with young people living under institutional care, arguments related to how and why music can be important in child welfare practices were constructed (Krüger, 2012). Based on a qualitative analysis of interviews with fifteen young people, different themes were explored. A main theme was that music may be viewed as a medium for the promotion of participatory practices (Krüger and Stige, 2016). Findings illustrate in various ways how music may be used to help young people to mobilize resources for action, cope with everyday living and to gain an own voice in a community. In my thesis, the concept of community work was not part of the discussion. Taking the above mentioned into consideration, I ask the following question; What implications does the approach of the theatre group Come Closer have for the multidisciplinary perspective called Community Work within Norwegian child welfare practice? In search of reflexivity The author of this article has functioned as one of the facilitators of Come Closer. His role has been related to fundraising, planning, and evaluation. Because of the several roles of the author, a degree of reflexivity is needed. One place to start examining reflexivity, is to make clear for the reader my background both as a musician and as a music therapist. Since I was a teenager I have played in various rock bands. I have experienced both joy and suffering, and not the least, valuable learning experiences. As an adult professional music therapist working in the field of child welfare, I find myself using experiences from my own past in order to help others and to facilitate participatory practices. As an adult, I work as a music therapist, mainly in the field of child welfare. As an academic field and profession, music therapy was developed in the United States after the Second World War (Stige et al., 2010). A main reason for this development was the successful treatment of trauma-related symptoms suffered by war veterans, through the use of music. Over the past few decades, music therapy has been developed towards being a broad interdisciplinary field, in which many ways of defining and understanding the roles, relationships, and rituals that characterize practices are found (Bruscia, 1998; Bunt and Stige, 2014). As seen in conventional music therapy perspective, music therapists address the needs of their clients and the situations in which they find themselves by providing a safe therapist–client relationship, where therapeutic goals may be achieved (Rolvsjord, 2007). Very often the promotion of health and well-being is the main goal for the music therapy process (Elefant et al., 2013). Norway is widely recognized as an important country for music therapy research. Its two major research centres are the Centre for Music and Health located in the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and the Grieg Academy Centre for Music Therapy (GAMUT), at the University of Bergen. In Norway, a relatively new discourse labelled ‘Community music therapy’ has gradually evolved. The perspective has developed as a human rights based approach in which the music therapist is working musically with people in context: acknowledging the social and cultural factors of their health, illness, relationships, and music (Stige and Aarø, 2012). In community music therapy, it is important to find ways of working together with other professionals through interdisciplinary collaboration (Stige and Aarø, 2012). This implies being able to work together with community workers, community musicians as well as professions such as teachers, nurses, or psychologists. What kind of music practice one sought for, is found in close collaboration with the users, the local community and relevant persons involved. Available resources are mapped, evaluated, and used. A second influence on my reflexivity are child welfare oriented theories. From an international perspective, the challenges in the child welfare system are increasing, and there is a need for sufficient solutions (Kristofersen, 2005; Kayed et al., 2015). Especially, there are severe difficulties linked to the use of child welfare services such as foster care and institutions (Backe-Hansen et al. 2014). In Norway, Clausen and Kristofersen (2008), for example, have shown that individuals who have been living in an institution have worse life conditions than those living in home with biological parents. The situation of young people under welfare care is not sufficiently aligned with the rights and values of the UNCRC (United Nations, 20). According to the CRC, children and young people have several rights, including rights concerning participation, which include the right to take part in everyday activities as well as the right to be heard concerning important decisions (Krüger and Stige, 2014). Different views of participation may be seen as mutually constitutive and music may be regarded as giving structure to a complex set of participatory practices, including aspects related both to community, health, well-being and values related to democracy (Krüger, Strandbu, Stige, 2014). Regarding child welfare solutions, findings show that music therapy can be an important resource in the way children and young people organize and better understand their everyday life situations (Hargreaves and North, 1999; Juslin and Sloboda, 2001; Juslin and Laukka, 2004; Laiho, 2004). Music can also be used to create personal reflection and engage in individual self-care (Rolvsjord, 2007; Saarikallio and Erkkila, 2007). The use of music provides activities for working with identity and narratives (Ruud, 1997). As such, music may be seen in relation to treatment of anxiety or depression (Sutton, 2002). A main ingredient in trauma-related treatment is facilitating storytelling, where the participant may be able to make meaning of lived incidents such as experiences from war or violence (Krüger, 2012). Music may also facilitate help and support from adults and peer’s (Krüger and Strandbu, 2015). Moreover, music therapy gives opportunities to establish meeting places where young people experience that their skills and knowledge may be used in new communities of practice, such as school or work (McFerran, 2010). Playing music and writing lyrics together offers the young participants the opportunity to see themselves and their actions in light of people’s feedback. Finally, music therapy makes it possible to establish meeting places where music can be used as a resource to challenge established positions of power (Krüger, 2012). Letting young people speak through music and music performances, provides structure to and affords acceptable protest actions, such as giving the message of an alternative child welfare identity (Krüger, Strandbu, Stige, 2014). Profile of the come closer theatre group I will now return to the musical theatre group Come Closer. Previously I have discussed Come Closer in relation to Boals Theatre of the oppressed (Boal, 1985; Strandbu, Krüger and Lorentzen (2016)). Come Closer offers activities such as musical instrument instruction, song writing classes, rock band instruction, and the opportunity to perform in concerts. Participation may lead to the development of various social roles and social identities. As an example, participants in Come Closer are provided with a stage and thus their voice can be heard in ways that enable their social identities to be negotiated and changed. Through participation in the workshop, acceptable protest actions, such as creating an alternative child welfare identity, can be achieved. This is important, because the identity of ‘a child welfare user’ is closely related to processes of stigmatization and marginalization in Norway (Backe-Hansen et al. 2014). As seen from an organizational point of view, Come Closer is funded by Bergen municipality and several private parties, including The Grieg Foundation and Aleris Ungplan & BOI. The organization has its own board, consisting of both previous users and adult social workers. Since it was formed in 2002 Come Closer has staged a number of performances, released CDs and toured in Norway. The message from the group has been communicated to politicians, people in charge of welfare institutions, teachers, health care workers as well as family and friends. The activities Come Closer facilitate may be understood as what Bronfenbrenner called molar activities. A molar activity is: an ongoing activity…perceived as having meaning or intent by the participants in the setting (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p. 45). Learning to play music is an example of molar activity. Learning music or writing lyrics can be seen as a ongoing activity, which has personal meaning for the learner, and may grow increasingly more complex in nature. Through the development of working phases, the participants may experience entering new roles as musicians, singers, song-writers, or performers. The new roles give possibilities for learning and the development of self-understanding. Music’s role in the process is complex; it can be used for a variety of purposes where the use may change in relation to contextual factors. The persons involved may use their experiences taken from the music workshop in new settings, such as school or work. In this way, several levels of what Bronfenbrenner labelled an ecological system are involved and activated (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Planning phase This phase is about recruiting members who are interested in participation. Come Closer arrange meetings every second Sunday of the month, and may thus be regarded a leisure activity. For many of the participants, Sundays are a beneficial day of the week because they report ‘having little to do that particular day’. There are several ways of being a member. Firstly, members are recruited via child welfare services who want to present Come Closer for their users. The instructors working for Come Closer are available for telephone contact and appointments are made on behalf of potential users. Second, recruitment is also possible through friends and peers. Members of Come Closer have the possibility to invite people to join. This phase is also about identifying individual needs in the quest for practical solutions. Some individuals will feel insecure and not motivated for meeting the whole group. If so, individual sessions are arranged in order to prepare the participant for further group process. Sometimes there is not enough motivation for joining the group and individual sessions are chosen as further alternative. In order to plan in collaboration with the young people and the child welfare services, collaboration meetings are organized in order to find solutions and make decisions. Among those involved are representatives of young people, instructors, and students. It is also appropriate to invite people from school and social work institutions. In the planning phase, participants are prepared so that they can join Come Closer as long as they want, and they can quit when they want, participants who have joined for more that two to three years, are asked to take on more responsibility regarding activities for the new-comers. Preparation phase The preparation phase is about getting to know the young people. Most of the activities are so called ‘low-threshold’ activities. It is possible for the young people to join without knowledge or skills in, for example, playing the guitar or singing. This phase includes activities such as ‘get acquainted activities’, ‘presentation rounds’, ‘music café’ or tours. It is also a phase where trips to concerts in the community are arranged. At this stage, the young peoples’ interests and goals become known. The participants are able to understand how the music workshop works, and in which ways they can influence the activities. Participants are encouraged to make suggestions for the activities. Throughout this phase, relationships and trust amongst participants are developed. Potential conflicts among members and personal interests are included in further planning, as well as individual adaptations and adjustments. Working phase During this phase, active efforts are made in order to meet the needs discovered in the previous phase. The phase includes activities such as music rehearsal, song writing, recording, and performance. Participants collaborate with music therapists in order to find artistic expressions in which they can convey their ideas. Central to this stage is the facilitation of the individual, so that he or she can cope with the activities in a group. An example of this would be to play a 4/4 beat on the drums or to learn ‘one finger’ guitar chords. Another example might be to write lyrics or record music using music technology. Each participant is invited to find ways to work that suits his or her need of expression or artistic ambition. Some people want to be a singer, and thus use the facilities of Come Closer in order to learn to sing and perform, others want to write drama or songs. It is also possible to combine singing, playing and composing. Realization phase This phase is about involving the local community and society at large. The phase facilitates the performance of songs, texts, or recordings. The phase depends on an active audience that may provide feedback on what is written, rehearsed, or recorded. Music, text, drama used to convey stories are listened to by an audience consisting of peers, relatives, and professionals who work in schools and within the fields of child care, as well as others who might be of significance for the young people. The evaluation phase Central to the evaluation phase is feedback from the audience and the participants themselves as a basis to adjust and adapt to new practices. It is crucial that the young people’s voices are heard in terms of changing practices. Evaluation may be conducted as focus groups and/or as individual interviews (Krüger and Strandbu, 2015, pp. 93–94). Messages from the members of Come Closer may be reported to the local media through interviews or as written essays. Trine’s story I have known Trine for four years. Through these years Trine has learned how to use aspects of her own life story in order to express feelings and thoughts, join the peer community and to communicate important messages to an audience of significant adults, such as social workers, family members, and teachers. During this time Trine learned how to play instruments, she learned how to use music technology such as recording equipment, and she developed skills in song writing and performing. Through these years Trine went from being a quiet child living in a child protection institution, to become confident in performing her own views and attitudes in front of others. Introductory sessions Trine was recruited to Come Closer through the child welfare services who wanted to help her gain a positive and meaningful leisure activity in a community with others. At first, Trine joined several individual sessions where she worked with the music therapist in order to gain motivation and confidence to meet the community of Come Closer. In the beginning Trine was insecure and stated many times that she really did not want to participate. She would say things like; ‘I can’t sing, and I have no belief in myself’, or, ‘I’m so afraid of doing anything in front of others’. Despite Trine’s lack of self-esteem, after a while, she was collaborating with the music therapist in order to decide how many individual sessions she needed and when she wanted to join the community. She was also presented with the option of not joining the community. The music therapist was her collaborator and facilitator in helping her decide if and when she wanted to participate. In the preliminary phases, Trine was given several options on how to participate, and what was needed from her in order to participate in the group. She received instructions on music instruments as well as singing lessons. Trine gradually increased her belief in expressing herself through music and conversation. Playing with the group After two months, Trine took the step towards meeting the Come Closer group. She participated in meetings and rehearsals where she met peers who had experienced what she had experienced; loss and lack of dialogue with adults. The meetings with Come Closer became important for her because she could take control over parts of her life that she previously had been unable to deal with. As an example, knowing how the other participants felt about the child welfare system, she could express what was wrong with her own situation and she could thus mobilize resources in order to have a better life situation. At the time when the lyric referred to in the introduction was written, Trine felt confident in using musical instruments, and she liked to perform with the others who at that time had become her friends. Through participation in music making processes, Trine gradually developed confidence in the art of storytelling and the construction of important collective stories. Through song writing, Trine found a language for her experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a community. ‘It’s like someone is lifting a stone from my heart’, she once spoke. After a while she became able to tell stories about her life she otherwise did not feel very confident about, for example, being labelled as a child of the welfare system, or being called a troubled child at school. Through various music activities, Trine found ways to communicate her experiences to an audience. Trine’s music hence became a tool for managing potential difficulties in her life situation. Through demonstrating her abilities and capabilities in music, Trine could stand up for what was especially challenging; being a troubled young person living under difficult conditions. Music enabled Trine to use her skills as a musician and songwriter to tell a different story about being alone and having low self-esteem. In collaboration with members of Come Closer, Trine wrote a song called Moving. This particular song became a tag for naming what was challenging in her life, namely, the fact that she had been forced to move around as a child. By the age of 16, she had already moved eleven times as a consequence of her situation in the care of the child welfare system. In the song, she tells a story that informs the listeners of the difficulties of moving around from place to place, never to be given the opportunity to settle down and find peace for herself and her needs. The following lyrics are an excerpt from the song. Where do I go? Where am I coming from? How long shall I stay? I’ll stay a while Then I must go That is why I always keep my jacket on. Because family members, social workers, and teachers from school were invited as members of the audience when the song was performed, important people in Trine’s life could take part in her storytelling. As the audience for Trine’s story, the people closest to her could give her recognition for her performance. The performance became a way for Trine to show an alternative identity to her well-established identity as a ‘child welfare user’. Through her music she could stand out as someone worth listening to, someone with a voice and a story to tell. Outcome At one point, Trine decided that she wanted to leave the Come Closer community. She left the community at the age of 20, but returned as a visitor several times. She also volunteered as an assistant at some events Come Closer organized. In conversations afterwards, she referred to Come Closer as a stable factor in her life in times of turmoil and frustration. She told me things like: ‘Come Closer has become my family’ or ‘Without them I wouldn’t have been where I am today’. She explained Come Closer as a community where she could meet peers with more or less the same experiences as herself. She also reported that joining the Come Closer group gave her experiences of being an important figure for other people. This experience was important for her because she felt that the child welfare system had taken such aspects away from her. Being under care of the child welfare system had labelled her as a burden on society. The experience of being important and useful for others helped her mobilize resources in relation to school and work. As an example, Trine expressed on one occasion that having performed in front of audiences in a Come Closer setting, helped her gain strength and motivation for coping in the setting of a stressful job interview; ‘When I talked with the job interviewer, I got very scared, but after a while, I remembered how it was to sing on stage, and I got calmer, I started to believe in myself’. Performing music and the concept of boundary learning A key feature of the situations described above in the case story can be described as a form of boundary meeting. A boundary meeting can in this sense appear between the therapist and the young person, and between the music workshop and home/community. These boundaries afford possibilities for Trine to participate in a group where she can organize and process her thoughts and feelings. Music then, can be understood as also tool for getting help and support from adults and peers. Moreover, as a social tool, music gave Trine opportunities to challenge established positions of power, namely, the dominant position of adults in the child welfare system. Rule (2004) calls boundary meetings ‘a dialogic space’. The dialogical space is as a zone of engagement, underpinned by values of trust, openness, and responsibility. By engaging in the dialogical space, the participant is enabled in dialogues at both an interpersonal and intrapersonal level. The notion of the boundary is also a key to understanding Bakhtin’s ideas about dialogue (Bakhtin, 1981). For Bakhtin, the boundary is between the self and the other, and function as a venue for engagement and conflict. The boundary is not permanent, but is rather a shifting threshold of communication and relation building. By elaborating the boundary, participants may learn each other’s words as they widen their respective understandings; ‘the process of selecting and assimilating the words of others’ (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 341). We can use this understanding to look at how Trine used music in order to transform and interact with her social environment. For Trine music and lyrics became tools she could use in order to participate in a dialogical space. Through musical participation she could engage in and influence power relations and intrapersonal relations. Such a view leaves therapy as a form of political action, which echoes Freire’s idea that therapy or education can never be neutral (Freire, 1995). For Freire, a goal is to overcome inequality. In order to overcome inequality, the therapist should use stories and songs that the participant knows, for example, from a home setting. Because the music workshop was close the Trines home and because she could use her own story as a part of therapy, it could be argued that the dialogical space was established based on equality. A relationship based on equality led to the development of ways to articulate an identity as someone else as a problem with a conflicting life situation. The use of music provided her with a continuity of autobiographical stories including narratives about places, people, and events (Ruud, 1997). As such, music gave structure to help and support situations from adults and peer relations. Moreover, by giving Trine a voice to be heard through her music, acceptable protest actions, such as creating an alternative child welfare identity could be attained (Baines, 2013). Being able to be heard also helped her mobilizing a set of resources needed in order to cope with everyday life and to manage potential difficult transitions towards independence and adulthood. The role she was giving as a resource person, able to help others, contributed in that very process. As such, her identity as a child welfare user was negotiated in the community towards an identity as someone useful and helpful for others. Community work or community music therapy? If we look at Trine’s story in relation to community work and community music therapy, we find some interesting similarities and differences. Community music therapy aligns with the idea of community work in many ways. In a broader sense, community work can be described as an approach occupied with the idea of building structures for participatory action (Cornwall, 2000; Cornwall and Coelho, 2006; Shaw, 2014). Community work traditionally takes a critical approach to the analysis of social inequality, social change, and inclusive research (Sudmann and Folkestad, 2015). As such, community work may represent a perspective on de-stabilization in order to create new possibilities for participation and self-presentation (Cornwall, 2000). Central to the movement is Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of participation. Arnstein originally developed her ideas in the late 1960s, and still retains considerable contemporary relevance, for example, in relation to child welfare practice. On the top step of the ladder we find ‘Citizen control’, and on the lower steps we find a category called ‘non-participation’. Interestingly, in context of the theme for this article which is music therapy, Arnstein places the concept of therapy alongside with manipulation. So, how could music therapy be seen as an activity, representing the higher steps on the ladder of participation? In order to answer such a question, we have to look deep into human history. Music is a profound part of every society and can be traced back to the earliest civilizations (Horden, 2000). Music is described as a therapeutic medium in Christian, as well as Islamic texts. One example is the famous story from the Hebrew bible, where David plays the harp for Saul who is suffering from depression. In ancient Greece, many philosophers were occupied with the idea of music’s healing and educational powers. For Aristoteles, music, and especially the Dorian scale, were suitable for the upbringing of young men (Aristotles/Jowett, 1999). In medieval times, music is mentioned a number of times in relation to medicine and treatment. Robert Burton (1621/2001) relates music to treatment of mental illness and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), wrote that music helped him during times of depression after experiences of loss and neglect in childhood (Mill, 2014). In modern times community music therapy may be described as a non-medical tradition of music therapy, focusing on health promotion and social change in and through musical participation (Stige and Aarø, 2012). The approach involves an awareness of the system the music therapists are working within, a view that imply that music therapy is not only directed towards the individual, but often aimed at changing the system that is sometimes part of the situation of the client (Ansdell, 2002). As such, community music therapy offers a contextual approach for working with individuals and institutions, and in relation to different levels of analyses (Stige and Aarø, 2012). One basic idea is that resources for change can be mobilized in and through communities of practice, such as in the case with a rock band or a choir. In the case of Trine for example, music therapy may be regarded as a way for promoting a voice that can be heard and have an impact in the child welfare system. Trines voices is given a possibility to have an impact on the way practices are formed and evaluated. And, resourced developed as a result of her participation may be used to mobilize resources in her social environment. We can for example, argue that resources she developed in therapy was used by her ‘outside’ of therapy, as illustrated in the case story. This makes community music therapy participatory and performative, and the possibilities and limitations of music as a vehicle for human agency comes into focus (Stige and Aarø, 2012). It is also important to remember the place music has in our culture and with young people in particular (Ruud, 1998). Concluding comments – the need for various strategies I have argued that community music therapy may represent a perspective combing aspects of music therapy and community work needed to meet the demands outspoken from someone like Trine. As an interdisciplinary field, community music therapy offers possibilities for both working with the individual through health promoting processes, as well as facilitating participation and collaboration as a part of social work. In the process of facilitating participatory practices, community music therapists may benefit from collaborating with community musicians, community workers, and other professions. Being able to shift between individual and communal perspectives opens up the possibility of maintaining a distinct theoretical perspective while simultaneously being able to change the perspective. Further, I have highlighted the importance of listening to young people’s voices in order to facilitate better practices in the context of child welfare work (Skivenes and Strandbu, 2006). The argument of listening to the voices of young people to decide the content of practice is taken from the UN Child Convention, especially regarding articles concerning children’s rights to be heard and to be empowered. Because child welfare practices in general are related to the CRC, supporting approaches should also be based in the same value system. Drawing on Trine’s story, I suggest three strategies. First, there is the need for an individual strategy. This strategy includes person-oriented activities such as conversation, song writing, and the use of music technology. The individual approach is aligned with what previously has been called the conventional music therapy perspective. Second, from the case example with Trine we learned that there is the need for a community-oriented strategy wherein activities such as playing in a band or song writing comes into focus. The community-oriented approach is important because it implies the facilitation of peer group relations, and contact with school community, family members, or adults from a child welfare institutions. Third, there is a need for a strategy which implies working with networks, social environments, and power relations. The third strategy is very closed related to ideals taken from a traditional community work perspective, whereas ideas such as Arnsteins ladder of participation is prominent. Taken all this into consideration, community music therapy may be seen as an approach which might be able to solve a paradox inherited in a theory many social workers rely on. If Trines story is valid, therapy may in some extent be seen as a force and resource for social change and protest against the system. Acknowledgements I thank Aleris Omsorg for their financial support in writing the article. I also thank my colleges at GAMUT, Grieg Academy University of Bergen for great support over many years. Many thanks also to Jan-Kåre Breivik and Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann for inviting and inspiring me to write this article. I have learned new things by entering the perspective of Community Work as a result of collaborating with them. Funding Aleris Omsorg Norge (Aleris Care Norway). References Ansdell, G. ( 2002) Community music therapy and the winds of change – a discussion paper, in Kenny, C. B. and Stige, B., eds, Contemporary Voices of Music Therapy, Communication, Culture, and Community , Unipub, Oslo, pp. 109– 142. Aristotle ( 1999) Politics , Batoche books, Kitchner. Translated by Jowett, B. (Kitchner: Batoche books). Arnstein, S. R. ( 1969) A ladder of citizen participation, Journal of the American Institute of planners , 35, 216. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Backe-Hansen, E., Madsen, C., Kristofersen, L. B., et al.   ( 2014) Barnevern i Norge 1990–2010, En longitudinell studie. Norsk institutt for forskning om oppvekst, velferd og aldring [A longitudinal study. Norwegian institute for research onadolescene, welfare and aging], (NOVA Rapport 9/2014). Baines, S. ( 2013) Music therapy as an anti-oppressive practice, The Arts in Psychotherapy , 40, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Bakhtin, M. ( 1981) Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics , University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. C. Emerson, (Red). Boal, A. ( 1985) Theatre of the Oppressed , Theatre Communications Group, New York. Bronfenbrenner, U. ( 1979) The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design , Harvard University Press, Cambridge. Bruscia, K. ( 1998) Defining Music Therapy , 2nd edn, Barcelona, Gilsum, NH. Bunt, L. and Stige, B. ( 2014) Music Therapy: An Art Beyond Words , Routledge, London. Burton, W. (1621/ 2001) The Anatomy of Melancholy , NYRB Classics, New York. Clausen, S. E. and Kristofersen, L. B. ( 2008) Report No 3/2008. Welfare clients in Norway from 1990 to 2005, a longitudinal study, Norwegian Institute for Social Research, NOVA. Cornwall, A. ( 2000) Beneficiary, Consumer, Citizen: Perspectives on Participation for Poverty Reduction , Sida Studies 2, Stockholm, Sweden. Cornwall, A. and Coelho, V. S. ( 2006) Spaces for Change? The Politics of Citizen Participation in New Democratic Arenas , Zed, London. Elefant, C., Pavlicevic, M., Ansdell, G., et al.   ( 2013) Where Music Helps: Community Music Therapy in Action and Reflection , Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, Farnham. Freire, P. ( 1995) Pedagogy of Hope. Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed , Continuum, New York. Hargreaves, D. J. and North, A. ( 1999) The functions of music in everyday life: redefining the social in music psychology, Psychology of Music , 27 ( 1), 71– 83. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Hart, R. A. ( 1992) Children’s participation: from tokenism to citizenship, Innocenti Essay , 92, 6. Horden, P. (Red). ( 2000) Music as Medicine. The History of Music Therapy Since Antiquity , Ashgate, Aldershot. Juslin, P. N. and Laukka, P. ( 2004) Expression, perception, and induction of musical emotions: a review and a questionnaire study of everyday listening, Journal of New Music Research , 33, 3. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Juslin, P. N. and Sloboda, J. A. ( 2001) Music and emotion: introduction, in Juslin, P. N. and Sloboda, J. A., eds, Music and Emotion: Theory and Research , Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 3– 20. Kayed, N. S., Jozefiak, T., Rimehaug, T., et al.   ( 2015) Resultater fra forskningsprosjektet Psykisk helse hos barn og unge i barnevernsinstitusjoner , NTNU, Trondheim. Regionalt kunnskapssenter for barn og unge – psykisk helsevern [Results from research project ‘Children and Young people Mental health in child protection institutions‘]. Kristofersen, L. B. ( 2005) Children’s health: disability and mortality in the period 1990–2002. NIBR Report 2005:12. Krüger, V. ( 2012) Musikk – fortelling – fellesskap, en kvalitativ undersøkelse av ungdommer sperspektiver på deltagelse i samfunnsmusikkterapeutisk praksis i barnevernsarbeid [Music – narrative – community, a qualitative investigation of young people’s perspectives on participation in community music therapy in the context of children’s welfare], Unpublished doctoral thesis, The Grieg Academy, University of Bergen. Krüger, V. and Stige, B. ( 2014) Between rights and realities – music as a structuring resource in the context of child welfare aftercare. A qualitative study, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy , 24, 2. Krüger, V. and Stige, B. ( 2016) Music as a structuring resource: a perspective from community music therapy, in Klempe, H., ed., Cultural psychology of music experiences , IAP: Information Age Publications, Charlotte, N.C. Krüger, V. and Strandbu, A. ( 2015) Ungdom, Musikk, Deltakelse. Musikk i forebyggende arbeid [Young people, Music, Participation, Music in preventive work] , Universitetsforlaget, Oslo. Krüger, V., Strandbu, A. and Stige, B. ( 2014) Musikkterapi som ettervernstiltak i barnevernet, deltakelse og jevnalderfellesskap, Norges Barnevern. [Music Therapy as after care work in child welfare, participation and peer relation groups, Norwegian ChildWelfare , 2–3, 9. Laiho, S. ( 2004) The psychological functions of music in adolescence, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy , 13, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   McFerran, K. ( 2010) Young People, Music and Music Therapy: Methods and Technique for Clinicians, Educators and Students , Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. Mill, J. S. ( 2014) The Biography.com website. Sep 22, 2014: http://www.biography.com/people/john-stuart-mill-9408210. Percy-Smith, B. and Thomas, N. ( 2009) A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation: Perspectives From Theory and Practice , Routledge, London. Rolvsjord, R. ( 2007) Blackbirds Singing: Explorations of Recourse-oriented Music Therapy in Mental Health Care , Aalborg University, Aalborg. Rule, P. ( 2004) Dialogic spaces: adult education projects and social engagement, International Journal of Lifelong Education , 23, 3. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Ruud, E. ( 1997) Music and Identity , University Press, Oslo. Saarikallio, S. and Erkkila, J. ( 2007) The role of music in young people’ mood regulation, Psychology of Music , 35, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Shaw, M. ( 2014) Learning from The Wealth of the Commons: a review essay, Community Development Journal , 49, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Skivenes, M. and Strandbu, A. ( 2006) A child perspective and children’ participation, Children, youth and environments , 10, 27. Stige, B. and Aarø, L. E. ( 2012) Invitation to Community Music Therapy , Routledge, New York. Stige, B., Ansdell, G., Elefant, C., et al.   ( 2010) Where Music Helps: Community Music Therapy in Action and Reflection , Ashgate Publishing, Farnham. Strandbu, A., Krüger, V. and Lorentzen, M. ( 2016) Musikkteater som barneverntiltak Identitet, fritid og kvalifisering til videre deltakelse, in Stensæth, L., Krüger, V. and Fuglestad, S., eds, I transitt – mellom til og fra, tekster om musikk og deltakelse i barnevern , Norges musikkhøgskole, Oslo. Sudmann, T. T. and Folkestad, H. ( 2015) Deltakelse som engasjement og utfordring – samfunnsarbeid med utviklingshemmede, Tidsskrift for Velferdsforskning , 18, 1. Sudmann, T. T. and Henriksbø, K. ( 2011) Kollektiv handling skaper endring, Fontene , 12, 50. Sutton, J., ed. ( 2002) Music Therapy and Trauma, International Perspectives , Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) ( 2018) CRC General Comment No. 7 Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood, 20 September 2006, available from this address pr. 22.03.2018, accessed at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/460bc5a62.html. Author notes Viggo Krüger completed his PhD on music therapy in the context of Norwegian child welfare in 2012. He holds a position as associate professor at GAMUT, University of Bergen. Since 2002, Krüger has facilitated music workshops for children and young people living under the care of the Norwegian child welfare system. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Community Development Journal Oxford University Press

Community music therapy as participatory practice in a child welfare setting – a Norwegian case study

Loading next page...
 
/lp/ou_press/community-music-therapy-as-participatory-practice-in-a-child-welfare-xwTWf0yMVk
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
0010-3802
eISSN
1468-2656
D.O.I.
10.1093/cdj/bsy021
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract In this article, I will focus upon a case narrative described as ‘Trine’, and her participation in a community group called Come Closer. I relate the discussion within a broader context of Community work and Community music therapy. The article combines vignettes taken from music therapy practice and various theoretical views. I argue that music has a potential as a force for social change and spans an unlimited number of combinations. Music can function as a practice that involves the activity of personal reflection processes and music can function as a sociopolitical force, able to change social realities and alter power relations. In sum, the article concludes that three strategies which might be appropriate for further investigation and implementation regarding music as resource in child welfare work. First, there is the need for an individual strategy. The individual strategy includes person-oriented activities such as conversation, song writing, and the use of music technology. Second, there is the need for a community-oriented strategy wherein activities such as playing in a band or song writing comes into focus. Third, there is a need for a strategy which implies working with networks, social environments, and power relations. The third strategy is very closed related to ideals taken from a traditional community work perspective, whereas ideas such as Arnsteins ladder of participation is prominent. How can anybody else like me when I don’t even like myself? When nothing goes my way and everything turns grey? I need some kind of push to get me out of here (Excerpt taken from the song ‘Is there somebody there for me’? by Trine) Introduction The above lyric is borrowed from a song written by ‘Trine’. Through the song, written in a music workshop called ‘Come Closer’ (described later in this article). Trine expressed thoughts and feelings related to sorrow and low self-esteem. The song was performed in front of a live audience – peers, family, and friends. The performance gave Trine a possibility to communicate to her social environment a message about her loss and suffering. Trine’s participation in Come Closer can be seen as examples of what is labelled as community music therapy and community work. Community work can be described as a meta-theoretical perspective on how young person’s participation can be developed, supported, and evaluated within the modern welfare state (Sudmann and Henriksbø, 2011). On the other hand, community music therapy is a perspective within the field of music therapy that is ecological in a Bronfenbrenner way, and seeks to find ways of using music as force for the promotion of health and participation (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Stige and Aarø, 2012). In the perspective of community music therapy, music is more than a stimulus to which humans react, or a vehicle for action and interaction; it is a multidimensional and continuously changing milieu where an aggregate of biological, psychological, and sociocultural processes interact (Stige and Aarø, 2012, s 138). Trine’s story is also relevant as seen from a human rights perspective. Previously, I have highlighted the importance of music as a tool and medium for increasing the awareness of the rights of children, especially regarding those with disabilities as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) (Hart, 1992; Percy Smith, and Thomas, 2009; Krüger, 2012). The UNCRC can be considered a useful and guiding Document both as a means for developing music therapy practices as well as developing music therapy theory regarding children and young people (Krüger and Stige, 2014). In my doctoral thesis, a qualitative study consisting of interviews with young people living under institutional care, arguments related to how and why music can be important in child welfare practices were constructed (Krüger, 2012). Based on a qualitative analysis of interviews with fifteen young people, different themes were explored. A main theme was that music may be viewed as a medium for the promotion of participatory practices (Krüger and Stige, 2016). Findings illustrate in various ways how music may be used to help young people to mobilize resources for action, cope with everyday living and to gain an own voice in a community. In my thesis, the concept of community work was not part of the discussion. Taking the above mentioned into consideration, I ask the following question; What implications does the approach of the theatre group Come Closer have for the multidisciplinary perspective called Community Work within Norwegian child welfare practice? In search of reflexivity The author of this article has functioned as one of the facilitators of Come Closer. His role has been related to fundraising, planning, and evaluation. Because of the several roles of the author, a degree of reflexivity is needed. One place to start examining reflexivity, is to make clear for the reader my background both as a musician and as a music therapist. Since I was a teenager I have played in various rock bands. I have experienced both joy and suffering, and not the least, valuable learning experiences. As an adult professional music therapist working in the field of child welfare, I find myself using experiences from my own past in order to help others and to facilitate participatory practices. As an adult, I work as a music therapist, mainly in the field of child welfare. As an academic field and profession, music therapy was developed in the United States after the Second World War (Stige et al., 2010). A main reason for this development was the successful treatment of trauma-related symptoms suffered by war veterans, through the use of music. Over the past few decades, music therapy has been developed towards being a broad interdisciplinary field, in which many ways of defining and understanding the roles, relationships, and rituals that characterize practices are found (Bruscia, 1998; Bunt and Stige, 2014). As seen in conventional music therapy perspective, music therapists address the needs of their clients and the situations in which they find themselves by providing a safe therapist–client relationship, where therapeutic goals may be achieved (Rolvsjord, 2007). Very often the promotion of health and well-being is the main goal for the music therapy process (Elefant et al., 2013). Norway is widely recognized as an important country for music therapy research. Its two major research centres are the Centre for Music and Health located in the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and the Grieg Academy Centre for Music Therapy (GAMUT), at the University of Bergen. In Norway, a relatively new discourse labelled ‘Community music therapy’ has gradually evolved. The perspective has developed as a human rights based approach in which the music therapist is working musically with people in context: acknowledging the social and cultural factors of their health, illness, relationships, and music (Stige and Aarø, 2012). In community music therapy, it is important to find ways of working together with other professionals through interdisciplinary collaboration (Stige and Aarø, 2012). This implies being able to work together with community workers, community musicians as well as professions such as teachers, nurses, or psychologists. What kind of music practice one sought for, is found in close collaboration with the users, the local community and relevant persons involved. Available resources are mapped, evaluated, and used. A second influence on my reflexivity are child welfare oriented theories. From an international perspective, the challenges in the child welfare system are increasing, and there is a need for sufficient solutions (Kristofersen, 2005; Kayed et al., 2015). Especially, there are severe difficulties linked to the use of child welfare services such as foster care and institutions (Backe-Hansen et al. 2014). In Norway, Clausen and Kristofersen (2008), for example, have shown that individuals who have been living in an institution have worse life conditions than those living in home with biological parents. The situation of young people under welfare care is not sufficiently aligned with the rights and values of the UNCRC (United Nations, 20). According to the CRC, children and young people have several rights, including rights concerning participation, which include the right to take part in everyday activities as well as the right to be heard concerning important decisions (Krüger and Stige, 2014). Different views of participation may be seen as mutually constitutive and music may be regarded as giving structure to a complex set of participatory practices, including aspects related both to community, health, well-being and values related to democracy (Krüger, Strandbu, Stige, 2014). Regarding child welfare solutions, findings show that music therapy can be an important resource in the way children and young people organize and better understand their everyday life situations (Hargreaves and North, 1999; Juslin and Sloboda, 2001; Juslin and Laukka, 2004; Laiho, 2004). Music can also be used to create personal reflection and engage in individual self-care (Rolvsjord, 2007; Saarikallio and Erkkila, 2007). The use of music provides activities for working with identity and narratives (Ruud, 1997). As such, music may be seen in relation to treatment of anxiety or depression (Sutton, 2002). A main ingredient in trauma-related treatment is facilitating storytelling, where the participant may be able to make meaning of lived incidents such as experiences from war or violence (Krüger, 2012). Music may also facilitate help and support from adults and peer’s (Krüger and Strandbu, 2015). Moreover, music therapy gives opportunities to establish meeting places where young people experience that their skills and knowledge may be used in new communities of practice, such as school or work (McFerran, 2010). Playing music and writing lyrics together offers the young participants the opportunity to see themselves and their actions in light of people’s feedback. Finally, music therapy makes it possible to establish meeting places where music can be used as a resource to challenge established positions of power (Krüger, 2012). Letting young people speak through music and music performances, provides structure to and affords acceptable protest actions, such as giving the message of an alternative child welfare identity (Krüger, Strandbu, Stige, 2014). Profile of the come closer theatre group I will now return to the musical theatre group Come Closer. Previously I have discussed Come Closer in relation to Boals Theatre of the oppressed (Boal, 1985; Strandbu, Krüger and Lorentzen (2016)). Come Closer offers activities such as musical instrument instruction, song writing classes, rock band instruction, and the opportunity to perform in concerts. Participation may lead to the development of various social roles and social identities. As an example, participants in Come Closer are provided with a stage and thus their voice can be heard in ways that enable their social identities to be negotiated and changed. Through participation in the workshop, acceptable protest actions, such as creating an alternative child welfare identity, can be achieved. This is important, because the identity of ‘a child welfare user’ is closely related to processes of stigmatization and marginalization in Norway (Backe-Hansen et al. 2014). As seen from an organizational point of view, Come Closer is funded by Bergen municipality and several private parties, including The Grieg Foundation and Aleris Ungplan & BOI. The organization has its own board, consisting of both previous users and adult social workers. Since it was formed in 2002 Come Closer has staged a number of performances, released CDs and toured in Norway. The message from the group has been communicated to politicians, people in charge of welfare institutions, teachers, health care workers as well as family and friends. The activities Come Closer facilitate may be understood as what Bronfenbrenner called molar activities. A molar activity is: an ongoing activity…perceived as having meaning or intent by the participants in the setting (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p. 45). Learning to play music is an example of molar activity. Learning music or writing lyrics can be seen as a ongoing activity, which has personal meaning for the learner, and may grow increasingly more complex in nature. Through the development of working phases, the participants may experience entering new roles as musicians, singers, song-writers, or performers. The new roles give possibilities for learning and the development of self-understanding. Music’s role in the process is complex; it can be used for a variety of purposes where the use may change in relation to contextual factors. The persons involved may use their experiences taken from the music workshop in new settings, such as school or work. In this way, several levels of what Bronfenbrenner labelled an ecological system are involved and activated (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Planning phase This phase is about recruiting members who are interested in participation. Come Closer arrange meetings every second Sunday of the month, and may thus be regarded a leisure activity. For many of the participants, Sundays are a beneficial day of the week because they report ‘having little to do that particular day’. There are several ways of being a member. Firstly, members are recruited via child welfare services who want to present Come Closer for their users. The instructors working for Come Closer are available for telephone contact and appointments are made on behalf of potential users. Second, recruitment is also possible through friends and peers. Members of Come Closer have the possibility to invite people to join. This phase is also about identifying individual needs in the quest for practical solutions. Some individuals will feel insecure and not motivated for meeting the whole group. If so, individual sessions are arranged in order to prepare the participant for further group process. Sometimes there is not enough motivation for joining the group and individual sessions are chosen as further alternative. In order to plan in collaboration with the young people and the child welfare services, collaboration meetings are organized in order to find solutions and make decisions. Among those involved are representatives of young people, instructors, and students. It is also appropriate to invite people from school and social work institutions. In the planning phase, participants are prepared so that they can join Come Closer as long as they want, and they can quit when they want, participants who have joined for more that two to three years, are asked to take on more responsibility regarding activities for the new-comers. Preparation phase The preparation phase is about getting to know the young people. Most of the activities are so called ‘low-threshold’ activities. It is possible for the young people to join without knowledge or skills in, for example, playing the guitar or singing. This phase includes activities such as ‘get acquainted activities’, ‘presentation rounds’, ‘music café’ or tours. It is also a phase where trips to concerts in the community are arranged. At this stage, the young peoples’ interests and goals become known. The participants are able to understand how the music workshop works, and in which ways they can influence the activities. Participants are encouraged to make suggestions for the activities. Throughout this phase, relationships and trust amongst participants are developed. Potential conflicts among members and personal interests are included in further planning, as well as individual adaptations and adjustments. Working phase During this phase, active efforts are made in order to meet the needs discovered in the previous phase. The phase includes activities such as music rehearsal, song writing, recording, and performance. Participants collaborate with music therapists in order to find artistic expressions in which they can convey their ideas. Central to this stage is the facilitation of the individual, so that he or she can cope with the activities in a group. An example of this would be to play a 4/4 beat on the drums or to learn ‘one finger’ guitar chords. Another example might be to write lyrics or record music using music technology. Each participant is invited to find ways to work that suits his or her need of expression or artistic ambition. Some people want to be a singer, and thus use the facilities of Come Closer in order to learn to sing and perform, others want to write drama or songs. It is also possible to combine singing, playing and composing. Realization phase This phase is about involving the local community and society at large. The phase facilitates the performance of songs, texts, or recordings. The phase depends on an active audience that may provide feedback on what is written, rehearsed, or recorded. Music, text, drama used to convey stories are listened to by an audience consisting of peers, relatives, and professionals who work in schools and within the fields of child care, as well as others who might be of significance for the young people. The evaluation phase Central to the evaluation phase is feedback from the audience and the participants themselves as a basis to adjust and adapt to new practices. It is crucial that the young people’s voices are heard in terms of changing practices. Evaluation may be conducted as focus groups and/or as individual interviews (Krüger and Strandbu, 2015, pp. 93–94). Messages from the members of Come Closer may be reported to the local media through interviews or as written essays. Trine’s story I have known Trine for four years. Through these years Trine has learned how to use aspects of her own life story in order to express feelings and thoughts, join the peer community and to communicate important messages to an audience of significant adults, such as social workers, family members, and teachers. During this time Trine learned how to play instruments, she learned how to use music technology such as recording equipment, and she developed skills in song writing and performing. Through these years Trine went from being a quiet child living in a child protection institution, to become confident in performing her own views and attitudes in front of others. Introductory sessions Trine was recruited to Come Closer through the child welfare services who wanted to help her gain a positive and meaningful leisure activity in a community with others. At first, Trine joined several individual sessions where she worked with the music therapist in order to gain motivation and confidence to meet the community of Come Closer. In the beginning Trine was insecure and stated many times that she really did not want to participate. She would say things like; ‘I can’t sing, and I have no belief in myself’, or, ‘I’m so afraid of doing anything in front of others’. Despite Trine’s lack of self-esteem, after a while, she was collaborating with the music therapist in order to decide how many individual sessions she needed and when she wanted to join the community. She was also presented with the option of not joining the community. The music therapist was her collaborator and facilitator in helping her decide if and when she wanted to participate. In the preliminary phases, Trine was given several options on how to participate, and what was needed from her in order to participate in the group. She received instructions on music instruments as well as singing lessons. Trine gradually increased her belief in expressing herself through music and conversation. Playing with the group After two months, Trine took the step towards meeting the Come Closer group. She participated in meetings and rehearsals where she met peers who had experienced what she had experienced; loss and lack of dialogue with adults. The meetings with Come Closer became important for her because she could take control over parts of her life that she previously had been unable to deal with. As an example, knowing how the other participants felt about the child welfare system, she could express what was wrong with her own situation and she could thus mobilize resources in order to have a better life situation. At the time when the lyric referred to in the introduction was written, Trine felt confident in using musical instruments, and she liked to perform with the others who at that time had become her friends. Through participation in music making processes, Trine gradually developed confidence in the art of storytelling and the construction of important collective stories. Through song writing, Trine found a language for her experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a community. ‘It’s like someone is lifting a stone from my heart’, she once spoke. After a while she became able to tell stories about her life she otherwise did not feel very confident about, for example, being labelled as a child of the welfare system, or being called a troubled child at school. Through various music activities, Trine found ways to communicate her experiences to an audience. Trine’s music hence became a tool for managing potential difficulties in her life situation. Through demonstrating her abilities and capabilities in music, Trine could stand up for what was especially challenging; being a troubled young person living under difficult conditions. Music enabled Trine to use her skills as a musician and songwriter to tell a different story about being alone and having low self-esteem. In collaboration with members of Come Closer, Trine wrote a song called Moving. This particular song became a tag for naming what was challenging in her life, namely, the fact that she had been forced to move around as a child. By the age of 16, she had already moved eleven times as a consequence of her situation in the care of the child welfare system. In the song, she tells a story that informs the listeners of the difficulties of moving around from place to place, never to be given the opportunity to settle down and find peace for herself and her needs. The following lyrics are an excerpt from the song. Where do I go? Where am I coming from? How long shall I stay? I’ll stay a while Then I must go That is why I always keep my jacket on. Because family members, social workers, and teachers from school were invited as members of the audience when the song was performed, important people in Trine’s life could take part in her storytelling. As the audience for Trine’s story, the people closest to her could give her recognition for her performance. The performance became a way for Trine to show an alternative identity to her well-established identity as a ‘child welfare user’. Through her music she could stand out as someone worth listening to, someone with a voice and a story to tell. Outcome At one point, Trine decided that she wanted to leave the Come Closer community. She left the community at the age of 20, but returned as a visitor several times. She also volunteered as an assistant at some events Come Closer organized. In conversations afterwards, she referred to Come Closer as a stable factor in her life in times of turmoil and frustration. She told me things like: ‘Come Closer has become my family’ or ‘Without them I wouldn’t have been where I am today’. She explained Come Closer as a community where she could meet peers with more or less the same experiences as herself. She also reported that joining the Come Closer group gave her experiences of being an important figure for other people. This experience was important for her because she felt that the child welfare system had taken such aspects away from her. Being under care of the child welfare system had labelled her as a burden on society. The experience of being important and useful for others helped her mobilize resources in relation to school and work. As an example, Trine expressed on one occasion that having performed in front of audiences in a Come Closer setting, helped her gain strength and motivation for coping in the setting of a stressful job interview; ‘When I talked with the job interviewer, I got very scared, but after a while, I remembered how it was to sing on stage, and I got calmer, I started to believe in myself’. Performing music and the concept of boundary learning A key feature of the situations described above in the case story can be described as a form of boundary meeting. A boundary meeting can in this sense appear between the therapist and the young person, and between the music workshop and home/community. These boundaries afford possibilities for Trine to participate in a group where she can organize and process her thoughts and feelings. Music then, can be understood as also tool for getting help and support from adults and peers. Moreover, as a social tool, music gave Trine opportunities to challenge established positions of power, namely, the dominant position of adults in the child welfare system. Rule (2004) calls boundary meetings ‘a dialogic space’. The dialogical space is as a zone of engagement, underpinned by values of trust, openness, and responsibility. By engaging in the dialogical space, the participant is enabled in dialogues at both an interpersonal and intrapersonal level. The notion of the boundary is also a key to understanding Bakhtin’s ideas about dialogue (Bakhtin, 1981). For Bakhtin, the boundary is between the self and the other, and function as a venue for engagement and conflict. The boundary is not permanent, but is rather a shifting threshold of communication and relation building. By elaborating the boundary, participants may learn each other’s words as they widen their respective understandings; ‘the process of selecting and assimilating the words of others’ (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 341). We can use this understanding to look at how Trine used music in order to transform and interact with her social environment. For Trine music and lyrics became tools she could use in order to participate in a dialogical space. Through musical participation she could engage in and influence power relations and intrapersonal relations. Such a view leaves therapy as a form of political action, which echoes Freire’s idea that therapy or education can never be neutral (Freire, 1995). For Freire, a goal is to overcome inequality. In order to overcome inequality, the therapist should use stories and songs that the participant knows, for example, from a home setting. Because the music workshop was close the Trines home and because she could use her own story as a part of therapy, it could be argued that the dialogical space was established based on equality. A relationship based on equality led to the development of ways to articulate an identity as someone else as a problem with a conflicting life situation. The use of music provided her with a continuity of autobiographical stories including narratives about places, people, and events (Ruud, 1997). As such, music gave structure to help and support situations from adults and peer relations. Moreover, by giving Trine a voice to be heard through her music, acceptable protest actions, such as creating an alternative child welfare identity could be attained (Baines, 2013). Being able to be heard also helped her mobilizing a set of resources needed in order to cope with everyday life and to manage potential difficult transitions towards independence and adulthood. The role she was giving as a resource person, able to help others, contributed in that very process. As such, her identity as a child welfare user was negotiated in the community towards an identity as someone useful and helpful for others. Community work or community music therapy? If we look at Trine’s story in relation to community work and community music therapy, we find some interesting similarities and differences. Community music therapy aligns with the idea of community work in many ways. In a broader sense, community work can be described as an approach occupied with the idea of building structures for participatory action (Cornwall, 2000; Cornwall and Coelho, 2006; Shaw, 2014). Community work traditionally takes a critical approach to the analysis of social inequality, social change, and inclusive research (Sudmann and Folkestad, 2015). As such, community work may represent a perspective on de-stabilization in order to create new possibilities for participation and self-presentation (Cornwall, 2000). Central to the movement is Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of participation. Arnstein originally developed her ideas in the late 1960s, and still retains considerable contemporary relevance, for example, in relation to child welfare practice. On the top step of the ladder we find ‘Citizen control’, and on the lower steps we find a category called ‘non-participation’. Interestingly, in context of the theme for this article which is music therapy, Arnstein places the concept of therapy alongside with manipulation. So, how could music therapy be seen as an activity, representing the higher steps on the ladder of participation? In order to answer such a question, we have to look deep into human history. Music is a profound part of every society and can be traced back to the earliest civilizations (Horden, 2000). Music is described as a therapeutic medium in Christian, as well as Islamic texts. One example is the famous story from the Hebrew bible, where David plays the harp for Saul who is suffering from depression. In ancient Greece, many philosophers were occupied with the idea of music’s healing and educational powers. For Aristoteles, music, and especially the Dorian scale, were suitable for the upbringing of young men (Aristotles/Jowett, 1999). In medieval times, music is mentioned a number of times in relation to medicine and treatment. Robert Burton (1621/2001) relates music to treatment of mental illness and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), wrote that music helped him during times of depression after experiences of loss and neglect in childhood (Mill, 2014). In modern times community music therapy may be described as a non-medical tradition of music therapy, focusing on health promotion and social change in and through musical participation (Stige and Aarø, 2012). The approach involves an awareness of the system the music therapists are working within, a view that imply that music therapy is not only directed towards the individual, but often aimed at changing the system that is sometimes part of the situation of the client (Ansdell, 2002). As such, community music therapy offers a contextual approach for working with individuals and institutions, and in relation to different levels of analyses (Stige and Aarø, 2012). One basic idea is that resources for change can be mobilized in and through communities of practice, such as in the case with a rock band or a choir. In the case of Trine for example, music therapy may be regarded as a way for promoting a voice that can be heard and have an impact in the child welfare system. Trines voices is given a possibility to have an impact on the way practices are formed and evaluated. And, resourced developed as a result of her participation may be used to mobilize resources in her social environment. We can for example, argue that resources she developed in therapy was used by her ‘outside’ of therapy, as illustrated in the case story. This makes community music therapy participatory and performative, and the possibilities and limitations of music as a vehicle for human agency comes into focus (Stige and Aarø, 2012). It is also important to remember the place music has in our culture and with young people in particular (Ruud, 1998). Concluding comments – the need for various strategies I have argued that community music therapy may represent a perspective combing aspects of music therapy and community work needed to meet the demands outspoken from someone like Trine. As an interdisciplinary field, community music therapy offers possibilities for both working with the individual through health promoting processes, as well as facilitating participation and collaboration as a part of social work. In the process of facilitating participatory practices, community music therapists may benefit from collaborating with community musicians, community workers, and other professions. Being able to shift between individual and communal perspectives opens up the possibility of maintaining a distinct theoretical perspective while simultaneously being able to change the perspective. Further, I have highlighted the importance of listening to young people’s voices in order to facilitate better practices in the context of child welfare work (Skivenes and Strandbu, 2006). The argument of listening to the voices of young people to decide the content of practice is taken from the UN Child Convention, especially regarding articles concerning children’s rights to be heard and to be empowered. Because child welfare practices in general are related to the CRC, supporting approaches should also be based in the same value system. Drawing on Trine’s story, I suggest three strategies. First, there is the need for an individual strategy. This strategy includes person-oriented activities such as conversation, song writing, and the use of music technology. The individual approach is aligned with what previously has been called the conventional music therapy perspective. Second, from the case example with Trine we learned that there is the need for a community-oriented strategy wherein activities such as playing in a band or song writing comes into focus. The community-oriented approach is important because it implies the facilitation of peer group relations, and contact with school community, family members, or adults from a child welfare institutions. Third, there is a need for a strategy which implies working with networks, social environments, and power relations. The third strategy is very closed related to ideals taken from a traditional community work perspective, whereas ideas such as Arnsteins ladder of participation is prominent. Taken all this into consideration, community music therapy may be seen as an approach which might be able to solve a paradox inherited in a theory many social workers rely on. If Trines story is valid, therapy may in some extent be seen as a force and resource for social change and protest against the system. Acknowledgements I thank Aleris Omsorg for their financial support in writing the article. I also thank my colleges at GAMUT, Grieg Academy University of Bergen for great support over many years. Many thanks also to Jan-Kåre Breivik and Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann for inviting and inspiring me to write this article. I have learned new things by entering the perspective of Community Work as a result of collaborating with them. Funding Aleris Omsorg Norge (Aleris Care Norway). References Ansdell, G. ( 2002) Community music therapy and the winds of change – a discussion paper, in Kenny, C. B. and Stige, B., eds, Contemporary Voices of Music Therapy, Communication, Culture, and Community , Unipub, Oslo, pp. 109– 142. Aristotle ( 1999) Politics , Batoche books, Kitchner. Translated by Jowett, B. (Kitchner: Batoche books). Arnstein, S. R. ( 1969) A ladder of citizen participation, Journal of the American Institute of planners , 35, 216. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Backe-Hansen, E., Madsen, C., Kristofersen, L. B., et al.   ( 2014) Barnevern i Norge 1990–2010, En longitudinell studie. Norsk institutt for forskning om oppvekst, velferd og aldring [A longitudinal study. Norwegian institute for research onadolescene, welfare and aging], (NOVA Rapport 9/2014). Baines, S. ( 2013) Music therapy as an anti-oppressive practice, The Arts in Psychotherapy , 40, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Bakhtin, M. ( 1981) Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics , University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. C. Emerson, (Red). Boal, A. ( 1985) Theatre of the Oppressed , Theatre Communications Group, New York. Bronfenbrenner, U. ( 1979) The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design , Harvard University Press, Cambridge. Bruscia, K. ( 1998) Defining Music Therapy , 2nd edn, Barcelona, Gilsum, NH. Bunt, L. and Stige, B. ( 2014) Music Therapy: An Art Beyond Words , Routledge, London. Burton, W. (1621/ 2001) The Anatomy of Melancholy , NYRB Classics, New York. Clausen, S. E. and Kristofersen, L. B. ( 2008) Report No 3/2008. Welfare clients in Norway from 1990 to 2005, a longitudinal study, Norwegian Institute for Social Research, NOVA. Cornwall, A. ( 2000) Beneficiary, Consumer, Citizen: Perspectives on Participation for Poverty Reduction , Sida Studies 2, Stockholm, Sweden. Cornwall, A. and Coelho, V. S. ( 2006) Spaces for Change? The Politics of Citizen Participation in New Democratic Arenas , Zed, London. Elefant, C., Pavlicevic, M., Ansdell, G., et al.   ( 2013) Where Music Helps: Community Music Therapy in Action and Reflection , Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, Farnham. Freire, P. ( 1995) Pedagogy of Hope. Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed , Continuum, New York. Hargreaves, D. J. and North, A. ( 1999) The functions of music in everyday life: redefining the social in music psychology, Psychology of Music , 27 ( 1), 71– 83. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Hart, R. A. ( 1992) Children’s participation: from tokenism to citizenship, Innocenti Essay , 92, 6. Horden, P. (Red). ( 2000) Music as Medicine. The History of Music Therapy Since Antiquity , Ashgate, Aldershot. Juslin, P. N. and Laukka, P. ( 2004) Expression, perception, and induction of musical emotions: a review and a questionnaire study of everyday listening, Journal of New Music Research , 33, 3. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Juslin, P. N. and Sloboda, J. A. ( 2001) Music and emotion: introduction, in Juslin, P. N. and Sloboda, J. A., eds, Music and Emotion: Theory and Research , Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 3– 20. Kayed, N. S., Jozefiak, T., Rimehaug, T., et al.   ( 2015) Resultater fra forskningsprosjektet Psykisk helse hos barn og unge i barnevernsinstitusjoner , NTNU, Trondheim. Regionalt kunnskapssenter for barn og unge – psykisk helsevern [Results from research project ‘Children and Young people Mental health in child protection institutions‘]. Kristofersen, L. B. ( 2005) Children’s health: disability and mortality in the period 1990–2002. NIBR Report 2005:12. Krüger, V. ( 2012) Musikk – fortelling – fellesskap, en kvalitativ undersøkelse av ungdommer sperspektiver på deltagelse i samfunnsmusikkterapeutisk praksis i barnevernsarbeid [Music – narrative – community, a qualitative investigation of young people’s perspectives on participation in community music therapy in the context of children’s welfare], Unpublished doctoral thesis, The Grieg Academy, University of Bergen. Krüger, V. and Stige, B. ( 2014) Between rights and realities – music as a structuring resource in the context of child welfare aftercare. A qualitative study, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy , 24, 2. Krüger, V. and Stige, B. ( 2016) Music as a structuring resource: a perspective from community music therapy, in Klempe, H., ed., Cultural psychology of music experiences , IAP: Information Age Publications, Charlotte, N.C. Krüger, V. and Strandbu, A. ( 2015) Ungdom, Musikk, Deltakelse. Musikk i forebyggende arbeid [Young people, Music, Participation, Music in preventive work] , Universitetsforlaget, Oslo. Krüger, V., Strandbu, A. and Stige, B. ( 2014) Musikkterapi som ettervernstiltak i barnevernet, deltakelse og jevnalderfellesskap, Norges Barnevern. [Music Therapy as after care work in child welfare, participation and peer relation groups, Norwegian ChildWelfare , 2–3, 9. Laiho, S. ( 2004) The psychological functions of music in adolescence, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy , 13, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   McFerran, K. ( 2010) Young People, Music and Music Therapy: Methods and Technique for Clinicians, Educators and Students , Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. Mill, J. S. ( 2014) The Biography.com website. Sep 22, 2014: http://www.biography.com/people/john-stuart-mill-9408210. Percy-Smith, B. and Thomas, N. ( 2009) A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation: Perspectives From Theory and Practice , Routledge, London. Rolvsjord, R. ( 2007) Blackbirds Singing: Explorations of Recourse-oriented Music Therapy in Mental Health Care , Aalborg University, Aalborg. Rule, P. ( 2004) Dialogic spaces: adult education projects and social engagement, International Journal of Lifelong Education , 23, 3. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Ruud, E. ( 1997) Music and Identity , University Press, Oslo. Saarikallio, S. and Erkkila, J. ( 2007) The role of music in young people’ mood regulation, Psychology of Music , 35, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Shaw, M. ( 2014) Learning from The Wealth of the Commons: a review essay, Community Development Journal , 49, 1. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Skivenes, M. and Strandbu, A. ( 2006) A child perspective and children’ participation, Children, youth and environments , 10, 27. Stige, B. and Aarø, L. E. ( 2012) Invitation to Community Music Therapy , Routledge, New York. Stige, B., Ansdell, G., Elefant, C., et al.   ( 2010) Where Music Helps: Community Music Therapy in Action and Reflection , Ashgate Publishing, Farnham. Strandbu, A., Krüger, V. and Lorentzen, M. ( 2016) Musikkteater som barneverntiltak Identitet, fritid og kvalifisering til videre deltakelse, in Stensæth, L., Krüger, V. and Fuglestad, S., eds, I transitt – mellom til og fra, tekster om musikk og deltakelse i barnevern , Norges musikkhøgskole, Oslo. Sudmann, T. T. and Folkestad, H. ( 2015) Deltakelse som engasjement og utfordring – samfunnsarbeid med utviklingshemmede, Tidsskrift for Velferdsforskning , 18, 1. Sudmann, T. T. and Henriksbø, K. ( 2011) Kollektiv handling skaper endring, Fontene , 12, 50. Sutton, J., ed. ( 2002) Music Therapy and Trauma, International Perspectives , Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) ( 2018) CRC General Comment No. 7 Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood, 20 September 2006, available from this address pr. 22.03.2018, accessed at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/460bc5a62.html. Author notes Viggo Krüger completed his PhD on music therapy in the context of Norwegian child welfare in 2012. He holds a position as associate professor at GAMUT, University of Bergen. Since 2002, Krüger has facilitated music workshops for children and young people living under the care of the Norwegian child welfare system. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

Journal

Community Development JournalOxford University Press

Published: May 4, 2018

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off