Music therapy takes centre stage at QMU

By Press Office

Young musicians, researchers and practitioners from around the world will come together in Edinburgh to look at how music therapy can be used to help teenagers.

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (QMU) will host an international symposium ‘Adolescent Development and Music Therapy: Dialogues in Action’ on 11 April 2016.

Guest speakers are travelling from Australia, Finland, Norway, Germany, England and Scotland to contribute to the event which is the first music therapy symposium to be held at QMU. The symposium will provide a melting pot for creative ideas and best practice and will help practitioners identify how this important therapy can be best used to help teenagers.

Dr Philippa Derrington, Programme Leader of the MSc Music Therapy at Queen Margaret University, is delighted to welcome her colleagues in the field to join in the first event of its kind in the UK.

She explained: “Music therapy offers young people a safe space and an accessible and creative way to work through difficult feelings. Young people experiencing social, emotional and behavioural difficulties are often misrepresented and frequently misunderstood. However, there is increasing research evidence to show that young people want to use song-writing, rap for example, and play music to express themselves. It is a relevant and effective way for young people to become more self-aware, confident and find new ways of relating to others.”

She continued: “I hope that the event will offer an exciting opportunity for music therapists to share ideas and for other professionals to learn how music therapy can be used to help the young people that they work with.”

She adds: “This is a free event and is open to all, thanks to the generous sponsorship and collaboration between Queen Margaret University, The Music Therapy Charity and ELJAM (East Lothian Youth Music Forum).

Dr Fiona Coutts, Dean of Health Sciences at Queen Margaret University, said: “This kind of international exposure for music therapy at QMU is unprecedented and is vital in enriching the student experience, developing current practice and promoting research. It is also an excellent example of QMU’s work in improving quality of life and becoming renowned as a university of ideas and influence. ”

‘Adolescent Development and Music Therapy: Dialogues in Action’ will take place at QMU on Monday 11 April 2016 from 9.30am –6pm.

Further information about music therapy

Notes to Editor

The idea for the symposium was born out of conversations between clinicians and researchers at the European Music Therapy Conference in 2012. Since then this dynamic forum, for those who specialise in music therapy work with adolescents, is now firmly established.

Adolescent Development

Developmental theories underpin many approaches to working with adolescents and have been adopted by music therapists when explaining their practices. The range of developmental theories is broad however, and sometimes contradictory. Developmental theory in psychotherapy refers to unconscious influences, whereas in cognitive psychology it refers to stages of cognitive development. We can also consider the ecology of development and the space and setting where music therapy happens. Such diversity provides a rich platform for considering the role of music therapists in working with adolescents.

An international line up of guest speakers supported by local young musicians will take part including:


Prof. Katrina McFerran (Australia)

Dr. Suvi Saarikallio (Finland)

Dr. Viggo Krueger (Norway)

Dr. Andreas Wölfl (Germany)

Steve Cobbett (England)

Louise Neale (England)

Dr. Philippa Derrington (Scotland)

Local young musicians:

Baron Salmon

Lucy Stannage


For further media information contact Lynne Russell, Marketing Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E:  T: 0131 474 0000, M: 07711 011239 and Jon Perkins, Press and PR Officer, E: T: 0131 474 0000.

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