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Forschung und Entwiklung. Jahrbuch Musiktherapie

Berufsverband d Musiktherapeutinnen u Musiktherapeuten in Deutschland e. V. (2005). Forschung und Entwiklung. Jahrbuch Musiktherapie by Berufsverband d Musiktherapeutinnen u Musiktherapeuten in Deutschland e. V.. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.

br2007_088The Berufsverband der Musiktherapeutinnen und Musiktherapeuten in Deutschland, e. V. (BVM) is an organization formed several years ago with the goal of uniting several diverse professional organizations for music therapists in Germany. BVM began publishing the “Jahrbuch Musiktherapie” (“Music Therapy Annual”) in 2005. According to the foreword, the Annual continues the tradition of “Einblicke” (“Insights”), which was published annually from 1990-2003 by one of the several organizations that preceded the founding of the BVM. Each volume of the Annual will focus on a particular theme or group of themes, with articles representing different foci, perspectives, or theoretical positions. The first two volumes suggest that the Annual will be published bilingually. The choice to publish bilingually is an interesting one. As an American music therapist who has worked in Germany, I expect this choice may lead German-speaking music therapists to become more familiar with the music therapy literature written in English.

The first volume of the Annual takes “Forschung und Entwicklung” (Research and Development) as its themes. In this first volume, approximately half of the articles are published in English, and half in German. Most of the articles are by authors working in Germany or Scandinavia, with one contribution by a German music therapist working in the U.S. Since music therapy is a “developing profession” in most countries, the ideas presented in this volume may be of interest to anyone interested in the ways music therapy is developing in these contexts.

The Annual begins with an editorial. The author, Stefan Flach, introduces a metaphor taken from observations from his childhood, spent near a farm. In this story, when butterflies stray into the chicken pen, they are promptly eaten, although they present no threat to the chickens. Flach likens the butterflies to music therapists, who seem to threaten the “pecking order” in health care, and are too often easy prey for more established, stronger professions. This interesting metaphor of the professional situation of music therapists (not only in Germany) leads Flach to emphasize the important role of professional communication, which depends on a clear sense of professional identity.

The editorial is followed by six chapters addressing a broad range of topics relevant to research and development, and include theoretical papers, an introduction to a new instrument, clinical papers, and a discussion of a professional topic. All of the authors are respected experts in their particular areas, from Susanne Metzner, who brings together neurological research with psychoanalytic theory to describe the process of developing empathy in group improvisations, to Thomas Stegemann’s discussion of the role of brain imaging techniques in music and music therapy, specifically, their role in building the scientific basis for music therapy. Stegemann asks the question “was wirkt wie” (what works, and how?), and proceeds to provide a similarly alliterative answer: Evolution, Evidence, and Evaluation. For this reviewer, this chapter makes a welcome point that some music therapists in Germany (and certainly elsewhere) sometimes seem reluctant to address: the legitimate right of patients to expect that music therapists be aware of the effects of music on patients — not only on a “behavioral” level, but also on a neurobiological level. The last of these six chapters discusses laws pertaining to social services and health care in Germany. This brief chapter succinctly clarifies the various types of laws that affect the practice and profession of music therapy.

These six chapters represent the bulk of the Annual. While most of these chapters are in German, some are in English, including Hanne Mette Ochsner Ridder’s description of the clinical use of music therapy to enhance lucidity in persons with dementia. Fortunately, each chapter has abstracts in both languages, but some of these could use reworking for clarity and ease of reading.

In addition to these six chapters, the Music Therapy Annual includes summaries of recent dissertations by Brynjulf Stige, Petra Kern, and Christian Gold. Two of these summaries are in English, and one in German. Gold’s dissertation is a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of music therapy with children and adolescents with mental illnesses. Gold addresses the history of externally-imposed questions of effectiveness, and reminds readers that these questions are of vital importance for music therapists: they are just as much internal questions as external ones. All three dissertations in the Annual have already led to other publications and to presentations and discussions at music therapy conferences and congresses. As I read these, I wished the editors had included a dissertation from a music therapist living in Germany or studying at a German university.

Finally, the Music Therapy Annual includes reviews of thirteen recently-published books, twelve published in German, and one in English. The texts reviewed cover a wide range of topics, from psychoanalysis and music to music therapy with premature infants. Having heard several music therapists in Germany complain about the lack of awareness of non-German publications among German music therapists, future editions of the Annual may want to include reviews of books in languages other than German.

This brings us to the interesting situation of bilingual books in general. The benefits of publishing a bilingual publication such as this are several. First, a bilingual publication may reach a broader audience, in this case speakers of one or both languages. Second, the publisher can avoid the expense of translation. As someone who has occasionally translated from German to English and edited translations by others, I am aware how much effort is involved in translating professional literature. Unfortunately, one drawback to this type of publication is that in my experience, there are many more German music therapists who speak English than there are English-speaking music therapists who also speak German.

Because of the position of English as the current lingua franca, it appears to me that this publication will mostly benefit German-speaking music therapists, and that few music therapists who do not speak German will become aware of developments in music therapy in Germany. From my position, this seems unfortunate, because in my experience of working and teaching in the US, the level of awareness of international developments is lower among music therapists in the US than in Germany. To this aim, it might be very interesting for a publisher in the US to consider publishing a bilingual text in Spanish, a language that is growing in importance for music therapists in the U.S.

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