Finding the Client in Their Environment: A Systems Approach to Music Therapy Programming
By Alpha Woodward
[Editors note: The article presented here is republished from the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy Vol. IX, no. 1 2002 with the kind permission from the publisher and the author.]
Most extended care environments are fraught with noise pollution, resident distress, and staff busyness. The continual clamour of random sound events such as call bells, public paging systems, TVs, loud conversations, kitchen clatter and continuous foot traffic contribute to an alarming sense of frenetic activity and impervious indifference. The Emergent Voice is the sum of all sounds we hear. It is the qualitative and identifiable personification of health or illness in a system. An Emergent Voice that reveals disturbing sounds and disruptive behaviours can be influenced towards health through the experiencing of the aesthetic, temporal and structural properties of music. This perspective introduces an environmental approach to music therapy programming in institutional facilities and necessitates a basic understanding of systems and field theories, the physiology and phenomenology of sound, and a willingness to engage in, and listen to, the environment in a new way.