My name is Karin and I am currently completing my Masters in Music Therapy at the University of Pretoria. It is the first course of its kind in South Africa and I have been privileged enough to be able to complete the course and its internships mostly from the beautiful city of Cape Town.
I was a wide-eyed enthusiast and novice to the field of music therapy at the start of this degree. Now, only 6 months in, I feel both overwhelmed and inspired by the use of music therapy in this country. The placement sites I have visited have opened my eyes to the harsh realities of so many South Africans’ lives. At times, I would leave a placement feeling heartbroken and helpless over the situations that these people – many of them vulnerable children – have to face. I would then, however, also catch myself feeling quite inspired: walking into a setting where individuals are struggling and then engaging with them in some form of musicking had lovely effects on many individuals. One of my favourite examples is of a little girl who sat in the playing area of the hospital we were visiting. She was crying non-stop and had been doing so for quite some time. She was also not a native English speaker, which complicated her situation at this hospital. My fellow students and I sat down and simply started singing and playing guitar. The moment we started the music, she stopped crying. By the end of our session, she was smiling and dancing. It might sound like a small change in one little person’s life, but to me, it was huge. Perhaps the music could communicate with her in a way that language could not. More than thirty-five languages are indigenous to South Africa. I believe music could overcome many a linguistic obstacle within therapeutic settings, even in a country with as many spoken languages as South Africa.
I am so excited about the future of music therapy in South Africa, a country that needs this profession so desperately. What a time to be involved in this profession in South Africa!