Music Therapy Drumming began as a call to advocate for the use of percussion in music therapy.    As a group, we felt that music therapists, percussionists, and other professionals would benefit if we were able to provide information about knowledge bases that already exist, and about how those knowledge bases are continuing to grow!

In November of 2010, Mike Marcionetti and I had the opportunity to reach out to the many facets of the percussion community at PASIC.  We presented on percussion in music therapy, focusing largely on how it differs from percussion in music education and from recreational music making.  We also discussed the unique needs of university music therapy students, and how percussion professors may assist them in developing percussion competencies.   Our advocacy was well-received!

In April of 2010, I was “google-alerted” to an article on ‘music therapy and drumming’ put out by a high school-and-college-oriented psychology career field site.   While the material was obviously well-intended, and the spirit of the material might be inspirational to potential music therapy students, I noticed that the research, concepts, and vignettes provided were not from our field.  The material was rather  written by researchers, musicians, and recreational music-makers outside of the field of music therapy.   I do value these types of offerings in themselves, but  I am aware of  much material on percussion and music therapy that we have written.   I feel it is worth others knowing about.  Most of the material about drumming with ‘special populations’ found online is not referencing our excellent work.  Since this article was titled “percussion and music therapy,” I only thought it reasonable that the material truly fit the topic.     So, I saw this as an opportunity to dialogue with the site operators, and to advocate for the rich tradition of research and practice that our field has created, developed, and even facilitated other professions to develop!    I am a big believer in dialogue and collaboration, and an equal believer in advocating for the best representation of our field.

Now, these are examples about particular types of advocacy that have worked for us, but here’s the bottom line.  Advocacy for the profession of music therapy is something that each professional partakes in, one way or another.  Given the size of the field of music therapy, and our yearning for authentic exposure within our personal and professional circles, we often find ourselves describing “what we do” to people who have never heard of music therapy.   Any conversation can be a way to advocate for the profession.  We can also advocate through media connections, be they through blogs, commentaries and editorials, dialogues with websites who may be able to better represent music therapy, and through press-releases about your work.  The political arena is another area we can give people a better idea about our work.   We can advocate at every political level (e.g. from grassroots to state agencies and governors to national legislators).

The personal is political: How might you be a part of the bigger picture?

Although most music therapy task forces have about 5 members, every music therapist can be a part of the AMTA/CBMT advocacy initiative from a more personal perspective. By attending state meetings, reading and responding to state task force emails, and initiating communication with your individual state legislators, you can help to increase awareness of music therapy and the MT-BC credential. You advocate every day for music therapy within your own circle of friends and your community. Consider taking that advocacy to a bigger audience of decision makers and help further the state recognition plan.

What is the State Recognition Operational Plan and why is it important to music therapy?

The State Recognition Operational Plan is a national initiative being implemented jointly by CBMT and AMTA. This collaborative effort between AMTA Government Relations and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provides guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as these groups of music therapists work to obtain state recognition of music therapy and the MT-BC credential.

The Plan involves increasing awareness of what it means to be board-certified. The ultimate goal is that, in all situations, the MT-BC be a minimum requirement as a service provision in every work setting.

You can help advocate for the MT-BC and for music therapy by connecting with your local, state, and national government representation.   There are many official and unofficial ways to be involved.   If you have questions about how you can play a role, contact the certification board for music therapists.