Studentkonferanse: JUGGLING THE ROLES OF A MUSIC THERAPIST
In February 2017, the Nordic Music Therapy Student Conference (NMTSC) was held in Oslo. We, the conference committee, want to give a short summary of this weekend.
Sixty participants were gathered at the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH) from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th. These were students from the University of Bergen/ Griegakademiet, the University of Jyväskylä, Aalborg University and NMH. Most of the Jyväskylä students were international students from Canada, Turkey, Japan and Germany among others, giving the conference an international character.
This was the 2nd Nordic student conference, following the first one held in Aalborg in 2016. We in the committee attended the Aalborg conference, and were inspired to keep up the Nordic collaboration. The student conference concept is an important meeting point and a unique opportunity for students to exchange experiences with people in similar situations.
Juggling the roles of a music therapist
The committee decided to name this year’s conference theme Juggling the roles of a music therapist. Our intention was to inspire and give the participants some new thoughts and perspectives on what it means to be a music therapist.
When music therapy students finish their educations, they are working as therapists. They deal with psychological themes, relational subjects and emotional issues. They are grounded in theory and research. But they are also musicians, which means that they have the possibility to have playful and artistic views, to be creative and to improvise.
Music therapists are guides, supervisors and mentors. We are there to support, to comfort, but also to challenge, sometimes even to confront. As music therapists, we are professionals, clinicians, specialists. But we are also human beings. We have our own limitations. Our own histories. Our own emotional life. How do we cope with this in our work?
Keynotes, papers and workshops
The keynote speakers at the conference were professors and educators at NMH. Both papers and workshops were held by participating students and newly educated music therapists. They all had their different ways of interpreting the conference theme.
Gro Trondalen gave the official opening speech. The subject of her keynote presentation was to balance different roles as a music therapist while taking one’s own health into account. Hans Petter Solli gave a keynote presentation on the transition from being a student to working as a music therapist through his own “Top Ten”-list. Hans Petter was accompanied by a former client, Angelica Kjos. Together they shared experiences of music therapy in a psychiatric unit and performed a few songs Angelica has written herself. Rita Strand Frisk gave a keynote about the music therapist as a counselor and supervisor, both working with clients and in collaboration with other professions.
Papers and workshops presented different student’s experiences from practice. The conference participants were invited to play with their voices and bodies as well as with musical instruments during workshops.
Our intention was to make a low-key conference, where the main focus was for participants to get to know each other and build networks across borders. Due to this, we had a lot of social activities during the weekend: The participants played games, shared songs and did warm-up exercises together.
There was a big “Dinner-and-jam” party on Saturday evening, and everyone was invited to a restaurant on Friday. Our experience was that people were very open-minded towards each other and eagerly socialized and made music together. Generally, people were enthusiastic and happy about our programme.
Thoughts on continuing collaboration
Hopefully, the conference concept will carry on. After a discussion finishing up this year’s conference, it seems that there is an interest in keeping the collaboration between the Nordic institutions going. We feel that this kind of meeting point gives us new energy, motivation and a real sense of community. Insight in new music therapy methods and theory is an inspiring “academic boost” that helps us develop as music therapy students.
Summing up the conference, some of the participants expressed that their experiences from the conference gave them a feeling of being “good enough”. This notion, for us, emphasizes the value of a student conference. It is an opportunity to gain new theoretical perspectives in a comprehensive way – matching where we are in our processes towards becoming working music therapists.