An Historical Analysis of White Supremacy in Music Therapy Education: Examining Music Therapy Program Directors’ Awareness

Thumbnail Image
McBrien, Kayla
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The present historical inquiry examines music therapy program directors’ awareness of the systems of white supremacy that are present in music therapy education and the institutions where these programs take place. A review of the literature and the lens of Critical Race Theory suggest that white supremacy is inherent in societal structures, such as educational institutions, and is perpetuated by the power and prejudice of the “dominant race.” Program directors of music therapy programs hold a position of power that includes designing curriculum, music proficiencies, selection of candidates from auditions, structuring audition criteria, etc. Interviewing them on their awareness of the relationship between white supremacy and music therapy education may determine the role(s) white supremacy can play in preventing students of color from becoming music therapists. This thesis examines the common themes that emerged from interviews with program directors from one region along with areas of awareness that are more specific to each respective institution. Common themes brought up by participants that were also present in a review of the literature included the types of music curricula are based in, colonization of education, professionals of color representation, and white fragility. Common themes were assessed for implications in the music therapy field, ties to white supremacy in history, and the directors’ perceptions.