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Hidden Voices; toward a trauma-informed framework of community music practice

Birch, Catherine ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1944-7334 (2022) Hidden Voices; toward a trauma-informed framework of community music practice. International Journal of Community Music, 15 (1). pp. 143-164.

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As the field of community music scholarship continues to evolve, opening up a dialogue around music making with trauma survivors and implementation of trauma-informed practice is both timely and critical. Whilst there has been an acknowledgement of the presence of trauma connected to specific contexts, community music literature has not yet begun to respond to the potential prevalence of trauma within any community music setting. As a field in which music projects will often be operating with groups of vulnerable people, trauma-informed practice is beginning to be acknowledged, but without a broad base of research to support training and implementation. As a community musician working with known trauma survivors, it is my assertion that the question of whether pedagogic frameworks should be developed in order to promote safe and appropriate practices needs to be addressed, especially where traumatic experience can remain hidden, but still be profoundly impactful.
This article explores the origins of trauma-informed practice as well as providing an example framework from the York St. John University Prison Partnership Project. A literature review of community music scholarship explores the potential benefits of music making for those who have experienced trauma and emerging themes are examined through the lens of trauma-informed practice. This article also suggests that trauma-informed practice could be integrated more widely within community music in order to: (1) acknowledge that in any group or context, statistically, a number of participants are likely to have experienced trauma; (2) acknowledge that because trauma is often hidden, having an understanding of manifestations of trauma responses will better equip practitioners; and (3) understand that trauma-informed practice enables practitioners to work reflexively and responsively within their groups, thereby building solid foundations on which to develop safe and secure environments in which music making can flourish.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/ijcm_00055_1
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
School/Department: School of the Arts
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5752

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