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The assessment of musicianship in selection for UK Music Therapy training: Performing 'Music Therapy Musicianship'

Wetherick, D. (2022). The assessment of musicianship in selection for UK Music Therapy training: Performing 'Music Therapy Musicianship'. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Guildhall School of Music and Drama)


This thesis is a study of musicianship in the professional training of UK music therapists. I focus on musical aspects of training and specifically on the selection process for one UK training, the MA Music Therapy at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. I show that musicianship is diverse and contextual and take a critical discourse approach to understanding how musicianship is formed and performed in selection for music therapy training.

A Preliminary Study of UK music therapy training institutions and trainers shows discourses around musicianship as having both gatekeeping and fence-making functions. These discourses establish music therapy as a skilled practice while also differentiating it from other musical roles. I show this differentiation extends backwards to selection of candidates for training and the role of a musical audition. The Main Study focuses on one such selection process and shows how institution, selectors and candidates invoke and transform the musical audition to both form and evaluate actual or potential capacity for ‘music therapy musicianship’ (MTM).

I present a network model of musicianship with MTM as one node of this. MTM articulates a neglected discourse within music therapy about the kinds of musical skills involved. I characterise MTM as involving interactive rather than solo music-making, treating performance competence as a resource rather than an achievement, and as requiring (inter)personal emotional capacity. I explore its implications for music therapy training and selection and reconfigure auditions for music therapy training as a ‘musical
interview’ that articulates and evaluates the musical skills trainees need. The study invites questions about the impact of candidates’ previous training and experience on their capacity for MTM, and the impact of musical selection processes on diversity of candidates.

The study proposes a model of musicianship relevant to music therapy pedagogy, and potentially to disciplines such as community music and music and health. It also contributes a new perspective on musicianship to the sociology of music education.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Wetherick thesis 2023 PDF-A.pdf]
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