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Health, masks and music: Narratives of empowerment in a South African community music therapy project based in a tuberculosis hospital

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This article introduces the Music Therapy Community Clinic’s (MTCC) Music for Health Project based in a tuberculosis (TB) hospital in South Africa. The value of this community music therapy project is explored from various narrative frameworks pertaining to health and the TB disease. Initially viewed from a reductionist medical narrative with a primary focus on treatment of physical symptoms, music therapy offers patients a diversion from their illness, but is perhaps a luxury rather than an essential form of therapy. The project is then considered from a narrative framework of empowerment, placing TB as a disease that predominantly affects those who are disempowered through poverty, stigmatization and isolation. Three case studies explore how community music therapy serves to empower patients on individual and collective levels, and consider possibilities this may hold for influencing the health behaviour of patients. As TB is becoming a pertinent issue worldwide, the article may offer possibilities for the role of creative approaches in the care of TB patients.
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Keywords: Community Music Therapy; empowerment; music and health; music therapy in a medical context; social health; tuberculosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Pretoria

Publication date: 2012-08-30

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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