Mai Abe, MT-BC
How did you find out about music therapy as a profession?
“I originally went to college for a dual degree in clarinet performance and psychology. I was absolutely determined to play in an orchestra and be a classical musician for the rest of my life. What I didn’t realize was how being in the classical music world was chipping away at my self esteem and love for music. I identified so strongly with being a musician that any feedback or criticism was like a stab to the heart. I started to hate playing and practicing, and felt really lost as to what direction I should head in. It was around that time when my mom suggested music therapy as another path for me, and the more I looked into it, the more it seemed to align with my values. I love music, but I was tired of being judged for the end result. I wanted to be a part of creating, but I didn’t want to worry about what others thought of it at the end. I wanted to play, but really PLAY! I wanted to connect with others and truly be present, not lost in my head concerned about what I was producing."
What are your hopes for music therapy in terms of equity, diversity, and cultural humility?
"I think it’s important to change our ideas of what “good musical knowledge” is. This viewpoint on what music is, and what music is relevant and useful, has been a harmful viewpoint that has pervaded the entirety of the MT profession and prevented growth. In order to be a music therapist, we need to have a classically trained background in music. Just auditioning for a spot in an MT program requires classical music knowledge. You rarely have spots available for the kid who learned everything by ear and can’t read music, or the kid who can’t afford to have an instrument, or the kid who can’t afford to travel to take an audition, etc. While foundations of music theory are important in being a music therapist, we end up preventing amazing musicians who haven’t had the privilege of having the access to resources that I have from becoming music therapists. Current music competencies are becoming more and more outdated, and we are struggling to keep up with the times."
- Mai Abe (@creativevibesmt)
Submitted in January 2021