In the past year, I’ve been learning and unlearning. It’s been eye-opening, challenging, and most significant, humbling. While I feel less than confident in writing this post on a topic I feel ill equipped, I’m compelled to write to amplify some of the Black voices that I’ve been learning from. To be clear: the work of anti-racism is mine and mine alone, but I could NOT do it on my own given my privilege and lived experiences. I’m hopeful you will find these Black voices in music therapy and music education as powerful, insightful, and supportive as I do.
Hayley Francis Cann, BMT, NMT, MTA
Hayley is a Black certified music therapist who grew up in Bermuda and practices music therapy in Ontario, Canada. Hayley’s blog is an authentic glimpse into her experiences as a minority music therapist. I particularly love her candor in this blog entry about Culture and Context in Music Therapy. In addition to her blog, Hayley is the author of the book “Mandy’s Mom, The Music Therapist” and the e-book titled “Mandy’s Musical Mask” which helps kids get comfortable with wearing a mask while doing everyday tasks. I finally ordered a copy of “Mandy’s Mom, The Music Therapist” for myself and I can’t wait to read it to my three year old who is becoming very interested in Mommy’s job! Hayley also co-hosts a podcast with Kimberly Dolan called Able Voice Podcast in which they talk about current trends and topics in the music therapy community.
You can follow Hayley on Instagram @mtahayley
Charissa is a K-5th grade music education teacher from Michigan. I first learned about her through Kerry Devlin (of @songsforsuccess) and gave her a follow last year and she has been one of my favorite follows of 2020 hands down. Charissa is a vibrant Black woman who is breaking down racism in the music classroom for the earliest learners (and older “un”-learners like myself). She shares valuable resources on her Instagram feed and stories every week including adaptations for all learners to music education, which has direct implications for we music therapists, too! For example, did you know Jingle Bells has a racist history in Minstrel music? Charissa breaks it down and provides wonderful alternatives to this age old tune in her blog.
Follow Charissa on Instagram @musicwithmrsdunc
Decolonizing the Music Room
Brandi Waller-Pace and Lorelei Batislaong are the powerhouse, black females behind Decolonizing the Music Room. I was capital W Wowed by them when I listened to their presentation “Developing Critical Views for the Music Classroom” which was part of the Music for Kiddos Symposium music therapy course my team and I took back in December 2020. I dig research and these two PhD candidates bring it with foundational terminology and guiding questions to help us deepen the conversation about race in the music classroom. I highly recommend checking out the resources available on their website for your music classroom or music therapy practice.
You can follow Brandi and Lorelei on Instagram @decolonizingthemusicroom
This list barely scratches the surface of the many Black voices doing amazing work in the field of music therapy and music education. So please share your favorites in the comments below so we can continue learning together!