A Reflective Look at Thirty Years of Music Therapy Training at Capilano College/Un Regard Réfléchi Sur 30 Années De Formation En Musicothérapie À Capilano College

By Kenny, Carolyn; Moffitt, Liz et al. | Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, January 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

A Reflective Look at Thirty Years of Music Therapy Training at Capilano College/Un Regard Réfléchi Sur 30 Années De Formation En Musicothérapie À Capilano College


Kenny, Carolyn, Moffitt, Liz, McMaster, Nancy, Canadian Journal of Music Therapy


In September of 1976, the first Canadian Music Therapy training program began at Capilano College, in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

[NM:] Music therapy didn't exist in B.C. before 1970. Due to the serendipity of two completely independent hitch-hiking encounters, both Carolyn and I joined forces with the innovators of an improvisational approach to community building for children with special needs, called the Children's Spontaneous Music

[CK/NM:] Those early days were very exciting. In response to the work of the Children's Spontaneous Music Workshops (see Kenny, 2006), and a series of workshops we conducted in the Greater Vancouver area in the mid '70s (see Kenny, 1976), there was a groundswell of requests from the professional community, to train music therapists. There was considerable interest from Eastern Canada as well. McGill University sent Deans, Faculty, and Program Directors to meet with us in Vancouver, with the idea of beginning a Music Therapy Program back east.

Meanwhile, we were attempting to gain interest at the University of British Columbia (UBC). There were some faculty members who were extremely interested in getting a Music Therapy program going at UBC especially with our presence at the Bob Berwick Memorial Centre for Children and Carolyn's presence in the Department of Psychiatry at the UBC Psych Hospital. Word of Nancy's work at the Vancouver Neurological Centre had also come to the attention of some of the music faculty at UBC. At the time, we were teaching some courses on Music Therapy and Creative Arts Therapies at UBC to health care and early education professionals, through Continuing Education. In the end, however, they decided not to go for it.

Then all of a sudden, one day we got a call from Karl Koylanski, the head of Music at Capilano, who had heard about our work through the Music faculty at UBC. Capilano College invited us to come up to the College to talk with them about a possible program. They were getting requests from the community for "music therapists". Five months later, the first class began (McMaster, 1983). And the rest is history.

[CK:] In the beginning, there were two major influences. The first was the spontaneous improvisation, which was the core of the work in the Children's Spontaneous Music Workshops Nancy and I had participated in. We continued to work this way through the mid-1970s. For more information see the film Listen to the Music-Makers by Kenny & McMaster (1976) and the article by McMaster (1976). The other major influence was Nancy's training and education in England with Clive Robbins and Paul Nordoff.

[NM:] The Nordoff-Robbins training was a profoundly life-changing experience that deepened my appreciation for music and for an essentially spiritual perspective about clients, music and Music Therapy. I had just completed an intensive course of classical piano studies at the Guildhall in London, after six months in India, and I was wide open. I would say that the combination of those influences and of Carolyn's First Nations heritage laid an implicit spiritual foundation for the Capilano program.

[CK:] I had done my training in the United States. But I can't really say that was an influence because we rejected most of the elements of the U.S. education and training in music therapy in the original design of the program. The one element from my U.S. music therapy training that we did include in the program was the use of Psychodrama for practicum supervision. This was a very effective part of the original curriculum.

[CK/NM:] The program was designed as a two-year graduate training program very much like the programs in Europe. Our idea was to attract applicants who already had a Bachelor's degree in music or a health-related profession so that we could focus on the development of their music therapy knowledge and skills.

The central values of the Music Therapy program at Capilano included creativity and aesthetics, human development through the arts, a humanist/holistic perspective on human nature and development, and commitment to self-awareness and group dynamics throughout the training. …

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