Invitations to gather — Dos Santos & Bolger

Volume 15 (1) 2023 – Editorial (published on 24 July 2023)

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Invitations to gather

Andeline Dos Santos

University of Pretoria, South Africa

Lucy Bolger

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Australia


Andeline Dos Santos, DMus, is senior lecturer in music therapy and the research coordinator in the School of the Arts at the University of Pretoria. She serves as co-editor-in-chief of Approaches [] Lucy Bolger is senior lecturer in music therapy at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Australia. She serves as associate editor of Approaches []

A journal is more than a space where people present and read new knowledge. As authors share articles, reports, interviews, book reviews, conference reports, and letters and as we engage with these as readers across disciplines, theoretical perspectives, contexts and countries, we are in conversation with one another. When authors receive feedback from reviewers, when students discuss the content of a new article in their classroom, or when music therapists use the knowledge they glean from a new study in their sessions, they are part of an ongoing engagement not only with ideas but with each other. A journal is a place of gathering. In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker (2018) explains that “we gather to solve problems we can’t solve on our own […] We gather to make decisions. We gather because we need one another […] We gather to honour and acknowledge” (p. 15). Careful reflection on how and why we gather is vital to optimising these experiences. Parker writes that if we do not explore the assumptions behind our gathering, we may simply replicate old, stale forms, and lose the possibility of birthing novel and transformative practices. Gatherings can hold warmth and heat. We welcome the warm ideas that affirm our practices, advocate for the value of our work, and celebrate the transformation that musicking affords. We also embrace the heat of critique and insightful questions as we challenge the status quo.

In this journal issue of Approaches, the concept of music and music therapy as a gathering space – a space to connect, to strive for personal and shared understanding, and to offer constructive critique – is represented in a number of interesting ways. Laura Teutsch, Sara Petrie and Heidi Ahonen use microanalysis and phenomenology to describe the different ways improvisational music psychotherapy provided a space for a client to build self-efficacy.  Priya Shah and colleagues present group music therapy as a space to support people with eating disorders to express their emotions and explore their identity. Deborah Parker and colleagues consider the ways music therapy offered a space to transform the experience of toxic stress for four Palestinian refugee children living in Lebanon.

In their research, Fabian Joyce and Hillary Moss invite us to consider the way music therapists and community musicians share professional spaces in community contexts and offer insights to inform professional collaboration and cooperation.  In her literature review, Mi Hyang Hwang explores interdisciplinary cooperation in a different way. She gathers together the discourse on music, music therapy and mindfulness from across the healthcare literature, and presents a comprehensive overview of current understanding of this topic. In response to Hwang’s literature review, Jo Parsons offers a critical commentary, while this issue includes a number of book reviews and conference reports too reflecting on different kinds of gatherings of knowledge and professionals.

In diverse ways, these many authors contribute to our ongoing academic dialogue at Approaches. Into the future, we will continue to refine and reflect on the gathering place that is Approaches. And, in the words of Priya Parker, we will “reflect on our deeper assumptions” as we go; as we strive to maintain and evolve an inclusive, accessible, and informative space. We welcome you into this gathering space with us, and hope you enjoy this issue of Approaches.


Parker, P. (2018). The art of gathering: How we meet and why it matters. Riverhead books.