Developing Multicultural Sensitivity in Early Childhood Music Therapy Practices Nicole R. Rivera, Ed.D., MT-BC Danara Barlow, Student North Central College Naperville, Illinois According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the demographics of children in the United States are changing. There will continue to be “dramatic increases in children’s cultural and linguistic diversity, and unless conditions change, a greater share of children living in poverty” (NAEYC, 2009, p. 2). These changes are confirmed by Child Stats.gov which tracks key indicators of the well-being of American children and indicates that the “population is projected to become even more diverse in the decades to come” (www.childstats.gov) and includes a projection of significant growth of Hispanic children. As demographics continue to change, music therapists must become increasingly aware of how linguistic and cultural diversity impact the therapeutic experience.
imagine 5(1), 2014
NAEYC, one of the leaders in the field of early childhood care and education, includes building an understanding of the social and cultural contexts in which children live as part of their recommendations for developmentally appropriate practices. They further indicate that “practitioners must strive to understand in order to ensure that learning experiences in the program or school are meaningful, relevant, and respectful for each child and family” (NAEYC, 2009, p. 10). Music therapists have long been aware of the need to explore multicultural perspectives in music therapy (Darrow & Molloy, 1998). Their survey data indicated that music therapists recognize “the need to understand and respect the clients’ cultural diﬀerences” (p. 31), but they express frustration about their preparation. Subsequently there have been more professional
development opportunities and articles written about multicultural perspectives in music therapy. For example, Rilinger (2011) wrote about the cultural implications and practical considerations of providing music therapy services for Mexican American children. She provided a review of significant cultural themes, important holidays, and information about relevant music. Last year’s edition of imagine included an article by Berger Morris (2013) in which she defined cultural beliefs systems among Latin American families that may impact the work of music therapists who are serving young children with disabilities. Music therapists have heard the message that it is important to understand the context of their clientele, but the ever changing demographic is a reminder to continue eﬀorts to work in a diverse world.
The focus of imagine 2014 is on family-centered practice – a trend taking hold in music therapy circles worldwide. While many practitioners...