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Social Media: Yesterday and Today
by Rebecca McClary, MA, MT-BC
I recently traveled to Fiji and I have to say, I had some of my most memorable musical experiences of my life. My experiences ranged from being greeted with song by an entire village as our boat arrived to Beqa (pronounced Bang-ga) Island, sitting with the village musicians who were singing and playing their guitars and lali (log) drum during a traditional kava ceremony, to receiving a Fijian Bobo (pronounced Mbombo) massage and hearing the ladies in the shop periodically sing church hymns. The music was richly harmonized, usually with the men singing bass and the women the soprano line. In each experience I was struck with how authentic the music was…as it seemed to genuinely come from the heart.
The lifestyle in Fiji, though, is very basic as many people do not have running water or electricity. Despite this lack of what many consider common amenities, the Fijians have a rare happiness about them which is expressed in their greetings, their art, their song and dance. They embody the simple pleasures such as the beauty of a sunset, the joy of singing, and the pleasure of talking story.
It made me think of how our ancestors used art, music and oral traditions as a form of social communication. These early forms of communication were invaluable in educating and relaying information to the group. Today we still have the basic need for information and information dissemination. Perhaps you can even say that this early form of social communication has morphed into the social media forms that we know today.
As 2012 begins, it marks the second annual Social Media Advocacy month for the field of music therapy. In particular, I love the day to day opportunities to talk about what I do for a living. For example, in Fiji while visiting one of the larger villages on the island I met two individuals that were mentally ill. Being that I work with the psychiatric population, I was immediately drawn to them and what stood out for me was how these individuals were not excluded from their community but were embraced as part of the group. I was able to share with family members how music therapy is used as an active intervention with the psychiatric population. Though they had not heard of music therapy before they were immediately able to understand how the power of music impacts one’s mental health.
In resuming my daily tasks, I find my thoughts frequently turning to advocacy and how the prospects of sharing information have changed through the years. I’m grateful for the ability to travel and to quickly send information via e-mail or to share my thoughts expansively in a blog. What begins at a grassroots level with simple messages being shared can expand to touch so many lives. It begins with a word, an idea and so on. Simple, yet powerful.
In fact, the advocacy occurring within the field of music therapy has grown exponentially through the efforts of members of the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists who, since 2005, have collaborated on a State Recognition Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this Plan is to get music therapy and the MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can more easily access music therapy services. The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date, their work has resulted in 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011, and an estimated 10 bills being filed in 2012 that seek to create either a music therapy registry or license for music therapy. What an impressive feat! I am truly excited to see what the future of music therapy holds and how WE can make a difference.
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About the Author
Rebecca McClary works with the mentally ill at a state hospital. She's worked with a variety of populations including forensic, skilled nursing, and adolescent psychiatric populations. Rebecca is the Internship Director of a national roster music therapy internship program and is a published author and recognized expert in her field, having been at the forefront of introducing evidence based practices into California service delivery systems while working in conjunction with state and federal authorities. Her journal article, Healing the Psyche Through Music, Myth, and Ritual presented in the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, contemplates the healing aspects of archetypes.