In October 2016, the WFMT put out a call for songwriters to submit their original lyrics and music for consideration as the next World Music Therapy Day song. The winning song will be a part of the opening ceremony at the 15th World Congress of Music Therapy in Tsukuba, Japan. Submissions were accepted until March 31, 2017.#WorldMTDay2017 is a celebration of music therapy around the globe, and composers were asked to keep that in mind as they wrote. A large number of submissions were received from 7 countries with the most entries coming from the United States and Italy. The winner was chosen by a panel who were basing the song selection on the following 4 criteria: Catchy & inspiring tune, easy to sing, easy to remember, and contains a motivating message. Today, I am pleased to announce the winner Dr. Len McCarthy from Ontario, Canada for his award winning song: “Music, Musica, Hudba”. For today’s blog, I have interviewed Dr. McCarthy so we can learn more about our dynamic song winner!
- Len, why did you decide to be a music therapist?
My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in 1999. She taught me ukulele and piano when I was 4. As her AD progressed, her music skills remained intact, and music became the primary way we communicated. At this time, music therapy was frequently in the news. In 2011, I met Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes who clarified how and why music therapy helps people with AD – which inspired me to become one. I volunteered in Baycrest Centre’s music therapy program to get a feel for the field, read books and articles about music therapy, then in 2013, I enrolled in WLU’s Masters of music therapy program. I received my degree and MTA (Music Therapist Accredited) status in 2015 and 2016 respectfully.
- Tell us a little about yourself.
Prior to being a music therapist, I had an eclectic career as a performer (leading my own band Party Lights for 25 years – playing keyboard, ukulele, guitar, sax, flute and singing, performing for parties, conventions, associations, etc.), record producer, jingle writer, songwriter, arranger, music teacher (at elementary, high school, and university levels) and an academic scholar. (I am still active in most of these areas, although to a lesser degree since becoming a music therapist, and I now only teach at the university level.) I have a MusBac and B.Ed., a M.Mus., and a PhD in ethnomusicology My dissertation is available at http://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/1373My specialities are Euro-American popular and folk musics, African American music and reggae. As a music therapist, I am most interested in working with adults, especially seniors, using whatever musical style, approach and technique best serves their needs. I work for Expressions Music Therapy Services in Kitchener, Ontario Canada servicing 10 adults who are legally blind and deaf, plus a seniors group. In September 2017, my wife (Jennifer Stacey – an Orff specialist) and I will open a music studio in Kitchener to provide music instruction for groups of children, community music ensembles for adults, and workshops for music teachers, music therapists and musicians.
- What is your global vision of music therapy?
Although music therapy is increasingly available as a health option, many people still don’t know, let alone understand our field. This will only change when music therapists take advantage of organizations like the WFMT, print and internet resources such as Barcelona Publishers (http://barcelonapublishers.com/) and Voices (https://voices.no/index.php/voices). These media allow us to not only learn about the most up-to-date empirical research about the medical and psychosocial benefits of music therapy, but also to devise political strategies to organize and present ourselves to the public and governmental or institutional gatekeepers in ways that generate philosophical and financial support to provide music therapy for everyone, everywhere. The more we band together with fellow music therapists, the better informed we and the public will be about the many ways that music therapy can be practiced and implemented, and how it can and should become a basic human right, like access to basic medical care and clean water.I can’t wait to sing our #WorldMTDay song with you on July 4, 2017. Look for the sheet music and audio clip to be posted on the WFMT website shortly so you can practice and be ready to join in the singing!Warm Regards from CanadaAmy Clements-Cortes, PhD, RP, MT-BC, MTA, FAMIPresident, WFMT