Welcome to the proceedings of the 22nd International pre-conference seminar of the ISME Commission on Special Music Education and Music Therapy. Here you will find a selection of papers presented at the seminar which took place between 12-14 July 2018 at The Orff Institute, Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria. Reflecting the diversity of the Commission and its emphasis on interdisciplinary dialogue, the papers originate from different professional, disciplinary and cultural spaces. This diversity offers a multitude of perspectives on music’s role in promoting wellbeing within different education, health and community settings.
Our aim, as editors of the proceedings, was to embrace multiple theses and antitheses without imposing or prioritizing any particular view. We also welcomed different submission genres ranging from case studies, to research and position papers to allow the voices of different individuals to be heard, including those of scholars, researchers as well as of practitioners. As a result, the papers included in this edition vary on their tone as well as on their writing conventions. They also offer different perspectives on music, education and health which are aligned to varying degrees and, in some instances, authors put forward competing arguments and agendas.
Our editorial engagement with people’s work and our endeavor to honor and communicate the original ‘ethic’ of each paper –whether or not this was aligned to our own viewpoints– reminded us the necessity as well as the challenge of learning and re-learning as a core component of interdisciplinary work. We invite readers to retain this critical yet generous interdisciplinary spirit while engaging with the proceedings.
Interdisciplinarity –which is at the heart of the Commission’s work– is often perceived as an ideal. Real-life experience, however, shows that a sense of mutual suspicion often underpins and fuels contrasting professional agendas and vocabularies between different fields. Some of these complexities are observed in the proceedings while other recent publications (e.g., Bakan, 2018; Hadley, 2014) have offered a platform for more explicit explorations of these complexities. Some of these issues were articulated in the roundtable of the 2016 Commission seminar, proposing the importance of interdisciplinary dialogue for the future of the music, health and wellbeing arena:
"[…] we consider interdisciplinary dialogues to be key in questioning, refining and expanding our understanding of the multiplicity and diversity of music and health practices, vocabularies, agendas and traditions. In turn, this process may help with the seemingly ever-present challenges of articulating the diverse practices and approaches within and around different professional fields of music, health and wellbeing. Most importantly, this process of questioning, refining and expanding our understanding will develop novel academic training, practices, research, publishing, and professional expectations in music, health and wellbeing. Interdisciplinary dialogue – together with an openness towards its difficulties, challenges and pitfalls – emerges as a vital component for the optimal growth of knowledge in music, health and wellbeing with implications for the sustainability and social accountability of the field." (Tsiris, Derrington, Sparkes, Spiro & Wilson, 2016, p. 67)
Looking ahead, we hope the work of the ISME Commission on Special Music Education and Music Therapy continues to advance knowledge and practice in the field and expands its potential for interdisciplinary collaboration. This includes strengthening our links with other fields, such as medical ethnomusicology, psychology of music, and music medicine, which have been relatively underrepresented within the Commission’s work until now.
In closing, we warmly thank the authors for their work, and we look forward to welcoming you at the 2020 Commission seminar in Helsinki.