Abstract

It is our contention that musical cultural competence can be achieved only once music therapists begin the process of transformational learning needed for more authentic self-awareness. This self-awareness forms the basis upon which musical cultural competence may be achieved. Musical cultural competence goes well beyond the idea of simply providing music from a client’s culture. It is about the roles of the particular music, its specific relevance to the client, and understanding the personal and musical cultural biases that the therapist brings into the music therapy context. In this article, we explore the notions that 1) both the client and the therapist bring a variety of cultural variables to the therapeutic relationship, and 2) cultural differences impact a person’s lived experience and influence all human interactions. We agree with the position that all counseling, all human interaction, is cross-cultural in nature, and that each person is a unique manifestation of his/her/zir culture. This process of working toward multicultural awareness, unlike the concept of achieving competencies, is ongoing and requires continual commitment and vigilance.

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