Meet Priya!

Priya Shah, MTA

How did you find out about music therapy as a profession?

“I first heard about music therapy when I was midway through my undergrad, completing a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance at Carleton University. I was intrigued at the prospect of combining my love of working with all kinds of people and actively incorporating music. When I applied for the Masters in Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University I started seriously taking piano lessons for a few months to prep for the audition. I had not taken piano lessons growing up, so I came in as a beginner. I sang in choirs most of my life, joined a vocal jazz group in high school, and traded a few guitar lessons in exchange for babysitting with a teacher across the street. In my 20s I began exploring improvisation and songwriting. I really appreciated the focus on clinical improvisation and music psychotherapy in the Master’s program."


What are your hopes for music therapy in terms of equity, diversity, and cultural humility?

"I hope that our profession can branch out from here. In the Britannica encyclopedia definition of music therapy, Howland (2017) states that “Much of what has been studied and recorded about music therapy… has been done through the lens of Western ideas… as a result, the use of music as a therapeutic experience clearly has a Western bias” (paragraph 2). While I recognize and acknowledge our profession’s roots and history, I also recognize that where we take it from here is in our hands. I hope that we can continue to expand our horizons in terms of educational programs (admission requirements, training, and curriculum), equitable access to music therapy services, awareness/education around the musical choices we make and instruments we use, and how we can be more responsive to the needs of our clients through an anti-oppressive lens. Lastly, I hope that we can continue to challenge and support each other, as music therapists of varying backgrounds and intersectional identities, to acknowledge our known and hidden (implicit) biases, and to practice cultural humility.”


- Priya Shah (@ps.musictherapy)

Submitted in February 2021


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