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ALERT PROGRAM: HOW DOES YOUR ENGINE RUN? (Self regulation made easy)
The Alert program is conducted by Sandra Kirkwood (Occupational Therapist).
Literature and research about the Alert Program is available online at https://www.alertprogram.com 
  • Term 1 Ipswich City: December 2016 to March 2017 (full)
  • Individual and group sessions may be arranged in other locations, according to need.
  • Funding is available through Medicare with GP referral; or private health funds for allied health.
Please contact us to register and discuss suitability of referrals.
Parent/carer training and coaching sessions may be available.
Resource manuals such as
Test Drive: Introducing the Alert Program through Song .
The training can support individual and/or group musical participaton on piano, percussion, guitar, and ukelele.
ABC Catalyst report on the latest research on the "Music on the Brain," broadcast on 8 March, 2016. Personalised audio-recordings may be important for stimulating the brain to recall emotions, and experience rhythmic movement--initiated by soundtracks of our lives. Dr Maggie Haertsch reports some promising research findings that support Music Health practice in aged care, and perhaps more widely used for healthcare.
Surfing about Music, book by Timothy J. Cooley (2014)

"This first major examination of the interrelationships of music and surfing explores different ways that surfers combine surfing with making and listening to music.Tim Cooley uses his knoweldge and experience as a practicing musician and an avid surfer to consider the musical practices of sufers in locations around the world, taking into account ideas about surfing as a global affinity group and the real-life stories of surfers and musician that he encounters. In doing so , he expands ethnomusicological thinking about the Many ways musical practices are integral to human socializing, creativity and the condition of being human..."

This book is an interesting read that explains the historical development of surfing, and music that accompanies the social scene

Surfing and Music--Health Benefits, Feb 2015
It is surprising how many musicans are surfers, and vice versa. Some suggest that the surfing lifestyle may be beneficial to health through the regular physical activity as an outdoor sport. Many surfers are relaxed people because they de-stress through regular surfing. Perhaps it is the opportunity to commune with nature, being immersed in the ocean and feeling the rhythm and cycles of waves. There seems to be connection with the cycles and rhythms of music, and surfing could be inspirational for musical composition.
International Museum Day, May 18, 2013
I am interested to host a discussion re "Intangible Cultural Heritage: Didjeridu at International Space Station."
Interested to hear your views on the science, art and socio-cultural significance of this musicking. See You Tube video
Science off the Sphere: Space Soundwaves II- Electric Didgeridoo (pub. 1 June, 2012).

We had a discussion on the topic of Aero-Space Ethnomusicology at the Peer-to-Peer Ideas Centre at the 2013 World Forum of Music 5, held at Queensland Conservatorium, Southbank, Brisbane. The conclusion was that:
  • We need to consider these issues and be proactive in studying aerospace ethnomusicology to prepare for the future.
  • That people interested could form a community of inquiry to discuss further and action plan (online).
  • Prepare current generation for understanding and curating music heritage and culture in this new realm.
  • Continue to Blog the latest developments on Aero-Space Music Adventures Research Thinktank.
  • Encourage participation and further discussion at Ethnomusicology Forums/Aero-Space Conferences.
  • Recommend that ethnomusicology and creative arts interests continue to be explored through aero-space music research, and education/training programs.
  • Support and advocate for inter-professional research (music, arts and occupational science). For example, within Bachelor of Music program, time to be devoted to future studies, not only music history.
Doing Time, Time for Doing: Indigenous Youth in the Criminal Justice System Report
The Government is due to respond to the Parliamentary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Committee's report into juvenile incarceration and justice issues called Doing Time, Time for Doing. Some of the recommendations in the report look at the importance of Indigenous culture and language issues. This has relevance to the Music Health sector in supporting and enabling peoples' musical livelihoods.

There is potential for health and justice to work together through the use of Music Health Professionals in early intervention, health promotion and prevention programs. The
full report is available online. Chapter 4 highlights "The Link Between Health and the Criminal Justice System." Also relevant is the NIDAC (2009) 
Bridges and Barriers: Addressing Indigenous Carceration and Health. 
News Commentary
Crean's chance to make a difference to nation's cultural landscape, by Lindy Hume, The Australian. 21 Oct, 2011.

The problem of being exceptional, by Ben Eltham, Crickey. 21 Oct, 2011.

Time to look beyond music lovers, by Steve Dow, The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 Oct, 2011.
Self-Audit Checklist for Equity, Diversity and Access to Performing Arts
This tool is under development at present. Please contact us if you would like to be part of a reference group for research and development. Training and support is available.
Equity, diversity and access to performing arts (Click on link) Powerpoint Presentation by Sandra Kirkwood:
Equity, Diversity and Access to Performing Arts: Managing Social Inclusion in New Frontiers of Healthcare. Presented at the Australian Society of Performing Arts Healthcare Conference on 22 October, 2011, at the University of Sydney.

Australian Human Rights Framework
The Australian Government launched a public discussion paper on the consolidation of Commonwealth anti-discrimination law on 22 September 2011. An invitation is open to lodge submissions or express personal and community views on this issue which is a key component of Australia’s Human Rights Framework. Submissions on the discussion paper are being accepted until 1 February, 2012.
Have your say on the National Cultural Policy Discussion Paper
In August 2011, the Office of the Arts, Department of Premier and Cabinet released a second Discussion Paper and invited submittions on the Draft National Cultural Policy. Music Health Australia provided a submission to the earlier discussion paper in 2009. The most recent consultation closed on 21 October, 2011. Interested to hear people's views and opinions on this important development.

My view is that...We perform our health everyday. The way that we perform, in many ways is intimately related to our music heritage and culture. There is a living, vital connection between health, performing arts, and culture that we can use to benefit individuals, communities and society. If we can identify barriers and limitations that are amenable to change, then it may be possible to increase peoples' opportunities for participation and promote health and social inclusion so that performing arts, heritage and culture are accessible to all citizens.

My response to the 2011 Draft National Cultural Policy was made through the
Place Stories project social media site, National Cultural Policy Forum for Community Cultural Arts sector.

Sandra Kirkwood, September 2011

Equitable participation in music heritage and culture, performing arts
Currently exploring the key research question to assist in preparing a presentation for the ASPAH conference:

How do we ensure equitable participation in perfoming arts, music heritage and culture for all citizens?

And the sub-questions:
Which groups of the population are disadvantaged in being able to participate in performing arts and access music heritage and culture?

What can be done to ensure better participation in performing arts and access to music heritage and culture?

What is the role of music and health professionals in improving participation and access for people who are disadvantaged by geographical isolation, disability, gender, sexual orientation, cultural identification, age, poverty or other factors?

Findings to be discussed at the Australian Society of Performing Arts Healthcare Conference, University of Sydney, 21-23 October, 2011.

Links to lead organisations and services that promote equity and diversity in music/performing arts
Arts Access Australia (Arts & Disability)
Cultural Diversity in Music Education (International Network - Multi-cultural & Music)
Music Outback Foundation (Music & Indigenous, Rural & Remote)
OOFRAS (Occupational Opportunities for Refugees & Asylum Seekers)

contact us with further links, if you are aware of organisations and services that promote equity & diversity.
Questions arising from Orchestrating Reconciliation
1. Why choose music for orchestrating reconciliation?
2. Is music usually effective for mobilising community and group agency to change social conditions?
3. Will it be possible for people to express diverse views and opinions through musicking?
4. What are the interconnections with other sectors for promoting personal/social emotional health and well-being?
5. How will ethnomusicking assist in generating understanding, building relationships at various levels -- considering ethics of involvement? Is there sufficient interest, resources and infrastructure?
6. Who is responsible for creating musical tributes now that we have moved so far away from localised village life?

Through asking important questions about music and life, we hope to challenge some of the commonly held beliefs and encourage discussion between people in diverse sectors and professional or community groups. Working towards better understanding of music experiences and finding creative solutions to a broad range of social, organisational, economic and ecological dilemmas. A few questions to start thinking and discussion:

Is music that we hear in gyms mind-numbing rather than invigorating?

Are we stifled by having to conform to certain musical genres in particular circumstances?

Could we extend our performance capacity through cross-cultural experiences, with or without travelling abroad?

What is the potential and penalities for musical deviance? Is deviance becoming normal?

Are we naive about the politics of digital story collection? Who benefits from archives? Who holds the key?

Who or what are the gate keepers of musical education opportunities?

What are the benefits of community radio for spanning geographical distance and isolation?

Any thoughts? Any more questions?

Contact us if you are interested in hosting Music Life Workshops or participating in online discussions about topics of mutual interest.

Music Health professionals consult with communities about how to best support and enable peoples' participation in a range of music occupations and activities. Many community members have the capacity to self-organise their own culturally engaged music that is meaningful and relevant to their lifestyle. Some people may wish to move beyond their current musical roles into more adventurous musical challenges in the future.
The consultation process involves mapping the current capacity and scoping Music Action Plans that are negotiated by key stakeholders.

Communities may decide to collaborate with a wide range of people who will be able to advise and help implement the Music Action Plans. It is often necessary to understand history and cultural traditions before undertaking music development activities. Music Health Australia can support people to investigate their music history and culture.

Culture bearers, Elders and mentors are vital to supporting the Music Action Plans of their communities. The outcomes are measured through checking with people as to their levels of satisfaction with their current music roles and making observations of the quality, frequency and attendance at musical performances.

Many questions arise in working alongside or within music communities. It is necessary to consult with people and negotiate understandings about cultural engagement in community music. The need for understanding each other and confronting uncertainties was addressed by Edgar Morin in guidelines that he developed for educators.

UNESCO gave Morin, a renowned philosopher and sociologist, the task of creating a conceptual blueprint to guide educators in the training of global citizens. This resulted in publication of a document on essential knowledge that should be covered in education for the future, in all societies, in every culture, according to the means and rules appropriate to those societies and cultures. Many of these principles can be applied to community music through music life education workshops that are developed according to the needs of people in particular locations and cultural contexts.
Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future (Morin, 2001).

Chapter 1:  Detecting error and illusion
  • The purpose of education is to transmit knowledge, and yet education is blind to the realities of human knowledge, its systems, informities, difficulties, and its propensity to error and illusion. Education does not bother to teach what knowledge is.
  • Knowledge cannot be handled like a ready-made tool that can be used without studying its nature. Knowing about knowledge should figure as a primary requirement to prepare the mind to confront the constant threat of error and illusion that parasitize the human mind. It is a question of arming minds in the vital combat for lucidity.
  • We must introduce and develop the study of the cultural, intellectual, and cerebral properties of human knowledge, its processes and modalities, and the psychological and cultural dispositions which make us vulnerable to error and illusion.
Chapter 2:  Principles of pertinent knowledge
  • Here is a major problem that is always misunderstood: how can we encourage a way of learning that is able to grasp general, fundamental problems and insert partial, circumscribed knowledge within them.
  • The predominance of fragmented learning divided up into disciplines often makes us unable to connect parts and wholes; it should be replaced by learning that can grasp subjects within their context, their complex, their totality.
  • We should develop the natural aptitude of the human mind to place all information within a context and an entity. We should teach methods of grasping mutual relations and reciprocal influences between parts and the whole in a complex world.

Chapter 3:  Teaching the human condition

  • Humans are physical, biological, psychological, cultural, social, historical beings. This complex unity of human nature has been so thoroughly disintegrated by eduation divided into disciplines, that we can no longer learn what human being means. This awareness should be restored so that every person, wherever he/she might be, can become aware of both his/her complex identity and his/her shared identity with all other human beings.
  • The human condition should be an essential subject of all education.
  • This chapter suggests how we can go from current disciplines to a recognition of human unity and complexity by assembling and organizing knowledge dispersed in the natural sciences, social sciences, literature, and philosophy, to demonstrate the indissoluble connection between the unity and the diversity of all that is human.

Chapter 4:  Earth identity

  • The future of the human genre is now situated on a planetary scale. This is another essential reality neglected by education, that should become a major subject. Knowledge of current planetary developments that will undoubtedly accelerate in the 21st century, and recognition of our Earth citizenship, will be indispensable for all of us.
  • The history of the planetary era should be taught from its beginnings in the 16th century, when communication was established between all five continents. Without obscuring the ravages of oppression and domination in the past and present, we should show how all parts of the world have become interdependent.
  • The complex configuration of planetary crisis in the 20th century should be elucidated to show how all human beings now face the same life and death problems and share the same fate.

Chapter 5:  Confronting uncertainties

  •  We have acquired many certainties through science but 20th century science has also revealed many areas of uncertainty. Education should include the study of uncertainties that have emerged in the physical sciences (microphysics, thermodynamics, cosmology), the environmental sciences, the historical sciences.
  • We should teach strategic principles for dealing with change, the unexpected and uncertain, and ways to modify these strategies in response to continuing acquisition of new information. We should learn to navigate on a sea of uncertainties, sailing in and around islands of certainty.
  • "The expected doesn't occur." Expect the unexpected and confront it. Every person who takes on educational responsibilities must be ready to go to the forward posts of uncertainty in our times.

Chapter 6:  Understanding each other

  • Understanding is both a means and an end of human communication. And yet we do not teach understanding. Our planet calls for mutual understanding in all directions. Given the importance of teaching understanding on all educational levels at all ages, the development of this quality requires a reform of mentalities. This should be the task of education for the future.
  • Mutual understanding among human beings, whether near or far, is henceforth a vital necessity to carry human relations past the barbarian stage of misunderstanding.
  • Therefore, misunderstanding must be studied in its sources, modalities, and effects. This is all the more necessary in that it bears on the causes instead of the symptoms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination. An improved understanding would form a solid base for the education-for-peace to which we are attached by foundation and vocation.

Chapter 7: Ethics for the human genre

  • Education should lead to an "anthropo-ethics" through recognition of the ternary quality of the human condition: a human being is an individidual-society-species. In this sense, individual-species ethics require control of society by the individual and control of the individual by society; in other words, democracy. And individual-species ethics calls for world citizenship in the 21st century.
  • The two great ethical-political finalities of the new millennium take shape: establishment of a relationship of mutual control between society and individuals by way of democracy, fulfillment of Humanity as a planetary community. Education should not only contribute to an awareness of our Earth-Homeland, it should help this awareness find expression in the will to realise our Earth citizenship.

Natural music environments - what do they look / sound like?

What I notice from working within a local music scene is that there are quite different scenarios for music organised locally, compared to music environments managed by educators, therapists, musicians or cultural leaders who may be external to communities and the local area.

Natural music environments seem to be characterised by:
  • People gathering together because they want to
  • Facilitated by local people or those invited by locals. Leadership may be shared amongst the group, and/or focussed on people with best ability that remain within the community for some time.
  • Not necessarily concerned with market forces and profit
  • Shared passion for making music
  • Can’t stop the music. Music ebbs and flows in natural cycles over time, sometimes dying out and new forms arising
  • Occurs anywhere, or everywhere
  • Difficult to suppress because it is an outpouring of people’s values, emotions, beliefs and aspirations.
  • Meaningful to those involved. Possibly related to local concerns, and knowledge about people’s music heritage, culture and environment
  • Attracts attention from spectators and those who want to become involved.
  • Music can be effusive and difficult to explain; may take on different forms or have multiple inter-locking strands
  • Could be co-operative and/or competitive
  • May be rebellious, energetic, emotional, uncontrolled
  • May challenge or undermine authority and institutions
  • May break down social barriers, or develop through sub-cultures that influence people’s access.
  • Profits flow back to community and help to sustain music heritage and culture
Musical programs can be evaluated to determine if they support local leadership and enable the natural flow in the musical life of communities. There are some music development programs that are controlled by external authorities for their own ends. This can result in exploitation of local people; removal of the best performers from communities; imposition of education, beliefs and values; with the focus on market forces and profit; suppression of certain views and distinctive local features. In contrast to this, the aim is for music life education that interfaces with and enhances the place-based or indigenous musical lifestyle of communities. It is not easy to determine what is in the best interests of individuals or communities, so careful consideration of ethics and upfront negotiation of understanding is vital to promoting social harmony, access and equity.
Occupational Performance Model - Australia (OPMA)
The diagram of the Occupational Performance Model – Australia, developed by Chris Chapparo and Judy Ranka (1996), is useful as a schemata for considering different facets of performance in ‘real-life’ situations. Occupational performance such as musicking is situated in relation to space, time, social and cultural context to reveal the relevance/meaning to individuals and communities. The bio-mechanical, physical and sensory aspects of performance are considered alongside the psycho-spiritual and emotional aspects of people's musical performance and occupational role. Development of musical potential may involve specific skill development, modifications of methods, use of adaptive equipment, environmental design or removing barriers, promoting equity and access, temporal adaptation (ie. mediating cultural understandings of time, tempo, and time use).

Further information is available from the Occupational Performance Model Australia website 

Law, M., Baum, C., & Dunn, W. (2005). Measuring occupational performance: Supporting best practice in occupational therapy. Thorofare, NJ: Slack.


Music has been used to educate people through broadcasting positive messages about dental health (brushing teeth) and environmental protection (eg. recycling waste).

Dental Health Songs 

Bashthetrash: Environmental education through music and junk orchestra

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=q-T82OJnkjc Musical recycling initiatives from USA.


Tertiary students and health professionals have been very creative in making videos that promote their services to the public in a fun and entertaining way.

ET meets OT
, the movie! Can ET adapt to life on Earth?

The silent OT movie. This movie says it all about learning to adapt to a temporary physical disability. Life goes on! The star is very resilient. The co-star helps to support and enable. Happy ending.

The O.T. MCs - You Know You Can (Occupational Therapy) The OT MCs... You Know You Can

Elton, from Boaz and the Band, performs a song for OT month:

The OT Rap: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=uDP1-gcDcAI

It would be great to have some more Australian health and environmental education music!

Article written by Sandra Kirkwood: commenced 12 Nov. 2008, last updated 14 April, 2017.
© Sandra Kirkwood, 2008




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