The idea for this book resulted from the personal experiences, advocacy, and scholarship of editors Annette Whitehead-Pleaux and Xueli Tan. Music therapy has lacked a text that includes a comprehensive range of cultures presented from an in-group context that explores the understanding of culture, presentation of advocacy issues, and knowledge to approach the therapeutic relationship. The book starts with chapters dedicated to an understanding of discrimination and oppression, an introduction to the concept of microaggressions, and reflection on the role of personal bias in human interactions. An exploration of various types of culture includes ‘Cultures of Heritage’, ‘Cultures of Religion’, ‘Cultures of Sexual Orientation and Gender’, and ‘Cultures of Disability and Survivorship’. The book concludes with section on ‘Inclusive Music Therapy Education and Practice’. At the outset, the editors offer that the voices of the majority in the overall culture of the United States are those who are White, Christian, male, and cisgender. Since these voices are dominant, they are not included as part of the book. Each of the chapters on culture are organized around themes of personal reflection/epoch; Introduction, Worldview of the culture(s); Historical realities versus popular myths; Diversity within the culture(s); Acculturation and assimilation; Minority stress, minority discrimination, and microaggressions; Meaning of medicine and well-being in the culture(s); Meaning and function of music in the culture(s); and Conclusion. This review cannot possibly give depth in each chapter, but aims to present an overall perspective on the text. Whitehead-Pleaux uses Chapter 1 to give a context for understanding culture as it relates to power, with power defined as “the ability to get what you want” (p. 3). The concept of power is given distinctive meaning by highlighting the concepts of discrimination and injustice. An understanding of oppression is grounded within in the Matrix of Domination/Interlocking Systems of Oppression Theory by Patricia Collins. This theory gives a dynamic view of oppression that shows how it objectifies individuals and groups into superior and inferior cultural importance and existence. The Matrix of Domination offers a way for music therapists to examine where they are located in the matrix of power and privilege based on societal markers. The author includes a very helpful example of the use of the matrix in the story of a fictitious music therapist on pages 6 and 7. In other chapters of this first section of the book, theories such as Feminist Theory and Critical Race Theory are also offered as a part of a foundation for understanding oppression. These tools are helpful for the reader to understand the theoretical basis for the book as well as have a context to understand the topics of microaggressions and exploring one’s personal biases in chapter 2 and 3. Susan Hadley and Nicole D. Hahna give knowledge about microaggressions and personal bias, respectively, by starting with themselves and presenting as individuals who are committed to a journey towards increased advocacy. Microaggressions usually occur due to unexplored biases with individuals being unaware of their privilege. Hadley emphasizes the need to develop and maintain anti-oppressive practices. Hahna states that we tend to think dichotomously, that we either do or do not have personal bias, instead of looking at it on a continuum. While not all bias is discriminatory, one’s culture being considered as the norm can bring a level of blindness both towards their own culture and the culture of others. This represents a problem within the therapeutic relationship if the therapist has no awareness of the implications of interacting with those different from them (i.e. at other locations on the matrix) and lacks insight into the (interpersonal, institutional, and internalized) intercultural filters acting between, upon, and within the self and the other. ‘Cultures of Heritage’ (Chapters 4–10). Hispanic/Latino (Chapter 4) people may be descents of both European oppressors and oppressed indigenous peoples. Hispanic/Latinos do not have a homogenous culture and it is beneficial to understand within-group differences. Additional understanding is that of Hispanic/Latino life of those living in the United States and how this intersects with race, class, cultural, familial, and sociopolitical issues. Music therapists need to understand the sociopolitical realities of clients related to emigration, immigration, transnationalism and diasporic experience. Valuable insights are given into the importance of families, religion/spirituality, machismo and gender roles, intersection of sexual orientation, and of course music in H/L culture. Chapter 5 is rich with intersecting themes related to identity, assimilation, sexuality, self-awareness, and wellness within ‘Eastern and Southeast Asian Culture’. The reader is educated on the implications of these for guiding the therapeutic relationship. Sangeeta Swamy, in Chapter 6, ‘Music Therapy in the South Asian-American Diaspora’, relates aspects of assimilation to American culture, racism, identity development, internal conflict, and acculturation while identifying as Indian-American and bisexual. Her story and scholarship give the reader knowledge of the general worldview and the diversity of South Asian communities in the U.S. One important insight to consider for South Asians (but also other minorities) is how the experience of the seemingly positive stereotype of ‘the model minority’ can lead to stress and unrealistic expectations for many. Chapter 7 debunks several commonly-held myths about Arab/Middle Eastern culture and then helps the reader to understand the common values, norms, and customs. Music therapists can educate themselves on customs and values (i.e. interpersonal, family, time-related, receiving professional help, etc.) of clients. It is key to understand the relationship Arabic individuals have with music. Chapter 8, on ‘African American Perspectives’, gives personal insight into the importance of having family and community that validates one’s black identity, but also how internalized oppression may exist within some in the black community. Readers are offered thoughts related to how reality for black Americans can be shaped by experiences different from the majority culture. Chapter 9 provides knowledge and thoughts about ‘The Cultures of Native Americans/First Peoples: The Voices of Two Indigenous Woman Scholars’. Therese M. West provides valuable perspective for approaching cultural competence, stating, “Multicultural competence is not an arrival point; it is a process of self- and other-discovery that continues for a lifetime” (p. 126). Her story represents a great example of weaving one’s personal narrative with scholarship. Roia Rafieyan (Chapter 10) talks about being multi-ethnic/bicultural and coming to terms with her identity within the construct of race. Information starting on page 139 gives readers a foundational understanding of racial identity in America. Rafieyan communicates the importance of music therapists gaining such cultural awareness, stating, “culturally informed therapists make a point of being aware of the ways in which they occupy intersecting positions of privilege and power-or lack thereof-associated with race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, dis/ability, class, and socioeconomic status,” (p. 144). ‘Cultures of Religion’ (Chapters 11–12). It is recommended that music therapists working with ‘Muslim Cultures’ (Chapter 11) understand a client’s perspective towards music, general Islamic cultural norms, and give respect to the role and value of family. “Respect for cultural differences and acknowledgement of cultural biases should always be observed and checked by the music therapist” (p. 162). In understanding the range of ethnic and religious identity assimilations, the author created a cross-cultural music therapy tool for general suggestions of use of music therapy techniques, instrument choices, and musical idioms. In Chapter 12, narrative of one co-author shows the diversity within Judaism, saying, “...I belong to and regularly attend services with a Reconstructionist congregation….my siblings and I each have chosen our own expression of Judaism. My husband is not Jewish; together he and I celebrate both Jewish and Christian holidays. My brother-in-law converted to Judaism. He and my elder sister belong to a Conservative synagogue. They have an observant household…..”. The chapter gives the reader a foundation for understanding the distinction between Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Judaism and how diversity even transcends denominations. ‘Cultures of Sexual Orientation and Gender’ (Chapters 13–14). In Chapter 13, Annette Whitehead-Pleaux states, “I am in a place in my life where it is safe for me to be open with my lesbianism. Yet, I am well aware that there are many who are not in safe circumstances,” (p. 193). Authors in this section highlight the importance of understanding how intersecting identity markers may affect the experience of LGBTQ+ persons of color, those affiliated with a religious group, or those who identify as a different gender or are non-gender conforming. Understanding of minority stress and the need for support beyond individual resilience and coping is also crucial. Sandra L. Curtis (Chapter 14) states that her personal and professional experiences include instances of both privilege and marginalization. “I am a White woman who is single, child-free, able-bodied, middle-class, heterosexual, and born in 1955” (p. 207). Curtis notes the natural and necessary combination of her feminist self and music therapy self. She highlights the caregiving load of women in the U.S. and the existence of work-life conflicts. In light of the way this also impacts clients, Curtis asks a key question regarding how music therapists can focus on personal work in therapy and ignore the need for empowerment in surrounding interpersonal and political issues. ‘Cultures of Disability and Survivorship’. Survivors (Chapter 15, ‘Survivor Culture’) can be those that have come through experiences such as cancer, natural disaster, sexual violence, childhood abuse, intimate partner violence, school shootings, burns, war, heart attacks, criminal action, illnesses, traumatic accidents. In this chapter, authors suggest that music therapists will benefit from an “awareness of these cultures, why they form, and their influence,” in order to “better serve each individual we encounter” (p. 223). The therapist can help to foster ‘posttraumatic growth’. Chapter 16 states that “the very nature of music therapy is inherently linked to the Culture of Disability,” (p. 246). An especially important topic for readers is that of the challenging of the view of disability as a deficit and the idea of reclaiming language and identity. This will introduce some or resonate with others toward concepts of identity-first language and culture. Chapter 17 gives the very valuable view of ‘Minority Educators’ with thoughtful and necessary insight of ‘Bringing Forward the Invisible’, ‘Taxes and Tokens’, and ‘Presumed (In)Competence’. Feeling the pressure to be the model minority can be emotionally taxing, particularly for Asian-American and other women faculty of color. The chapter ends with important introduction about ways of mentoring. Each chapter is inviting the reader to not only be music therapists, but ‘Allies for Social Justice’ (Chapter 18). The music therapist should not be afraid to do personal work of exploring biases and examining privilege, nor the interpersonal and community work in becoming part of a “systematic ally network” (p. 261). An understanding of the ‘Bennett Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity’, as well as concepts of ‘Intersectionality’ and ‘Situational and Relative Privilege’ are fundamental for examining knowledge and attitudes. It is important to understand that there are also different types of allies and being an ally requires a commitment to action and work. This book gives important insight into ways of approaching clients with cultural sensitivity and respect. In many ways, this book is a starting place to explore biases and deepen self-awareness while also engaging in the work of learning, listening, and advocating. The framework for each chapter gives structure and brings cohesion to the reading experience. The tone set by the integration of each author’s personal narrative with the scholar/advocate allows the reader to digest rich cultural concepts. The book does well at providing consideration for music in various cultures and a foundational understanding to nurture a healthy therapeutic relationship across cultures. While the editors have capably taken on a broad scope and provided a structure that allows for thoughtful insights by authors, the way in which music therapists talk about culture remains a challenge. It seems difficult to comprehensively cover many regional cultures in a single chapter, and there can be difficulty reducing each cultural perspective in ways that are representative. For example, Chapter 5 presents several Eastern and Southeast Asian regional cultures, however the presentation of music examples seems limited. Representing a complex individual culture can also constitute a challenge. Chapter 8, for example, does not seem to match the overall tone of the book. Perhaps integrating more of the authors’ narratives or adding more sources and information transferable to the present day would have increased its effectiveness. In future iterations of this book or like books, authors could benefit from exploring the landscape of other professional texts on cultural knowledge and competence to conceptualize additional ways to present the complexities of culture. Though this is the task of authors, editors may need to have more conversations with authors to locate their contributions in relation to existing literature. Overall, this is a valuable text and resource for music therapists aiming to gain knowledge and enter a dialogue about culture that informs the therapeutic relationship and moves beyond the simplicity of ‘music as a universal language’ or the ‘color-blind’ approach to considering cultural difference. © American Music Therapy Association 2018. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Music Therapy Perspectives – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 15, 2018
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