Use of Traditional and Nontraditional Instruments with Traumatized Children in Bethlehem, West Bank
Behrens, Gene Ann, Music Therapy Perspectives
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the author's experiences and observations concerning Palestinian children's musical responses when playing traditional and nontraditional music instruments during music therapy sessions and reflect upon the implications for music therapists working in other cultures. The children involved were 20 first to fifth graders from two different schools in the Bethlehem within the West Bank of the OPT. They ranged in age from 7 to 1 2, with a mean age of 9.45 years. The focuses of the entire project involved evaluating the potential for using a seven-component music therapy protocol (Behrens, 2008) to develop the emotional coping skills of children traumatized by the ongoing conflict within Bethlehem (Thabet, Abdulla, Elhelou, & Vostanis, 2006; Thabet, Abed, & Vostanis, 2002, 2004), and to investigate the emotional support provided by families and social support systems within the community. Although Palestinians have traditionally tended to be fairly stoic in their expression of emotions (Baker & Shalhoub-Kevorkian, 1999; Pines & Zaidman, 2003), most people in Bethlehem stated that the on-going multitraumatic situation now warrants a change (Mapp, Behrens, & Socha, 2012). Many now believe talking about emotions is a way for the children to cope and develop resilience (Mapp et al., 2012). I left with only minimal plans for the music therapy sessions based on my limited email interactions with one health care professional at a facility in Bethlehem. As the setting and limited opportunity to prepare provided challenges in setting up the program, I therefore needed to explore and make all arrangements for the music therapy sessions once I arrived, including the purchase of some instruments.
Use of Instruments as Reported by Other Music Therapists
Unfortunately, there is little written about what music therapists might consider when selecting music instruments for use in sessions involving clients from other cultures. At most, music therapists working with traumatized individuals from other countries or with clients from other cultures only listed or briefly discussed the instruments with which they worked. Orth and Verbingt (1998) reported working with refugee clients using instruments from their native countries as well as what they called "universal instruments such as guitar and piano" (p. 86). Chase (2003) referred to the piano and guitar as more Western-European instruments and suggested using rhythm and accompanying instruments from other countries such as cabasas, maracas, and güiros. These instruments, however, have become common in most music therapy sessions in the United States. In a later report of their work, Orth, Doorschodt, Verbürgt, and Drozdek (2004) discussed that they also used drums, xylophones, and harps tuned to a pentatonic scale, rainmakers, ocean drums, small rhythm instruments, and rhythm eggs. Within the Sing and Crow programs in Australia, Williams and Abad (2008) used indigenous instruments that were supplied by the organizations with whom they worked. Pavlicevic (2002) wrote about using any instrument or sound surface that was available such as tables, glasses, or the floor, with the children in Africa. Lang and Mclnerney (2002) discussed using drums, piano, and xylophones with the children in Bosnia. Although Bergmann (2002) also reported the benefits of music therapy programs in Bosnia, her discussion did not involve a list of selected music instruments.
Though this literature provides some context for music selection, it does not adequately contextual ize how instruments may be selected and used. This created somewhat of a dilemma - how does one go about selecting instruments when working with clients in a new cultural setting. As no clear guidelines were provided, I began by examining multicultural literature to see if suggestions or guidelines might emerge.
Review of Multicultural Concepts
When working with clients from other cultures, there is a growing body of literature about various multicultural principles that could influence a therapist's choice of music instruments and interpretation of resulting musical responses. …