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Laurier hosts international conference on music therapy and music education

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Jun 3/08| For Immediate Release


Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen
Director of the Laurier Centre for Music Therapy Research
Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710, ext. 2431

WATERLOO — Is the piano lesson a therapy session?

The image of the piano teacher rapping students on the knuckles with a pencil when they hit a wrong note may be examined at a research conference at Wilfrid Laurier University June 13-15 when the Laurier Centre for Music Therapy Research (LCMTR) hosts Making Connections: Exploring the relationship between Music Therapy and Music Education.

The three-day conference, which will examine the proximity of music therapy to music education, is drawing participants from various countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland, and India.

Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen, director of LCMTR, says “all good music education is therapeutic though we don’t usually think of it in that way. Similarly, all music therapy is a form of music education. This conference will look at the many common elements of both disciplines. All the participants in the conference are either music educators in music therapy or music therapists in music education.”

Reflecting the intersecting disciplines of the conference, three keynote speakers will present, one a music therapist, one a music educator, and one both a music educator and music therapist.

Dr. Amelia Oldfield has over 27 years’ experience as a music therapist, and currently works at the Croft Unit for Child and Family Psychiatry and at the Child Development Centre in Addenbrookes, Cambridge, UK. Producer of six music therapy training videos, her keynote is titled “Interactive Music Therapy: Links with Music Education.”

Dr. Lee Bartel, professor of Music at the University of Toronto and director of the Canadian Music Education Research Centre, has researched widely and notably. Music consultant for some 50 Fisher Price recordings for children, his keynote is titled, “Sound Health: How can we meet the challenge?”

Dr. Kimmo Lehtonen, a professor of music education and a practicing music therapist, has been using improvised rock and roll music in his practice for more than 25 years. A pioneer in Finnish Music Therapy, Lehtonen will deliver a keynote titled, “Hard Rock Therapy with young rebels.”

Conference presenters will deliver a one-hour lecture; a 45-minute discussion will follow to explore how people can implement the presented ideas into their own work. Some 20 papers and workshops at the conference will examine a range of subjects including children’s intuitive musical understanding, and multicultural issues in music.

 “I expect all the discussions to be very exciting,” Ahonen-Eerikainen says. “Our conference is historic in that we’re studying something that hasn’t yet been examined in detail. I expect the ideas explored at the conference will have real, practical benefit, and that certain misconceptions may be talked about. The music lesson is sometimes thought of in popular culture as a practice and competition nightmare for children. Fortunately, the work of most music educators debunk the myths. ”

The conference is LCMTR’s second in three years. Bridging clinical practice and research, the Centre provides opportunities for interdisciplinary music therapy studies.

For more information on the conference, please visit or contact Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen at 519-884-0710 ext. 2431


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