Music therapy as academic education: A five-year integrated MA programme as a lighthouse model? – Brynjulf Stige

Special Issue 7 (1) 2015, “Music Therapy in Europe: Paths of Professional Development” – Article

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Music therapy as academic education: A five-year integrated MA programme as a lighthouse model?

Brynjulf Stige


Seeing the current academisation of music therapy internationally as part of broader processes of modernisation, I reflect on implications for music therapy education. Using the current five-year integrated MA programme in music therapy at the University of Bergen (Norway) as a case example, I reflect on how paths of development are dependent on conditions that are linked to local context as well as broader contexts. Two kinds of broader contexts are taken into consideration in relation to the chosen case example, namely the conditions created by the political history of the nation in question and the shared European conditions created by the Bologna Process on standards in higher education. Given that the original local context of the Bergen programme was the rural town of Sandane, the interplay with these two broader contexts are communicated through use of phrases such as “from Hafrsfjord to Sandane in 1100 years” and “from Sandane to Bergen, via Bologna”. I think it is valid to claim that paths of development are local in many ways, but Europe is a local context too, if a bit broader. In a section I call “Bildung, Bongo, and Bologna”, I give examples of interrelated contexts in the development of the programme in Bergen, before I conclude with some reflections on the conditions created by the Bologna Process. Local and national conditions vary, so perhaps no music therapy education can be a lighthouse for others, but in some ways the Bologna Process operates like a lighthouse that gives directions for more homogenisation and academisation of music therapy education in Europe.

Keywords: music therapy education; paths of development; context; conditions; Bologna Process; academisation


Brynjulf Stige, PhD, Professor in Music Therapy, University of Bergen (UiB); Head of Research, GAMUT – The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre, UiB & Uni Research Health, Norway. Co-editor of Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Stige’s research has concentrated on issues such as culture, community and theory. Recent books include Where Music Helps (2010, with Ansdell, Elefant, and Pavlicevic), Elaborations toward a Notion of Community Music Therapy (2012), Invitation to Community Music Therapy (2012, with Aarø), Music Therapy: An Art beyond Words (2014, with Bunt), and Culture-Centered Music Therapy (2015, 2nd Edition).