Student Reflections on Two Conferences in Helsinki

Latvian master's student Alina Feodorova with Hanna Hakomäki, EMTC Country Representative for Finland

Alina Feodorova, a Latvian Music Therapy student, reflects on her experiences at two conferences held in Helsinki in April 2022:

As a second year Music Therapy Master’s student at Liepaja University, I decided to attend the 1st International Conference on Children’s Music Therapy (April 26 to April 27) and the 10th Nordic Music Therapy Conference (April 28 to April 30) in person. Both conferences were held in Helsinki, and, luckily, both were in the same building. For the first time since pandemic restrictions hit the world, I decided to use the chance to see, hear and meet scientists in real life while the current health situation allowed it. My experience in Helsinki was really life changing. 

My great interest in music therapy motivated me to hear as many speakers as possible. I was really impressed to meet some legendary doctors and scientists whose works I have previously read in books and scientific journals. There were speakers from various countries, such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, United States, and many more. Paper topics included clinical research as well as social, psycholocial, educational, cognitive (and many more) aspects of music therapy and how therapy impacts children and their caregivers. I was very impressed when Dr. rer. Medic. B. Friederike Haslbeck spoke about the newest music therapy improvements in neurological development in preterm infants, the importance of singing in auditory and prefrontal cortex and the differences in sex. Prof. Dr. Karin Schumacher spoke about “Music and the development of interpersonal relationships in early childhood” and showed so many practical examples from her personal practice. It felt very personal and most importantly, we could experience her presence in real life, while asking questions and discussing the topic more deeply.

Alina with Dr. Karin Schumacher

The first conference concluded with the amazing Symphony Orchestra of the Lansi-Uusima Music Institute that performed Ilan Sanfi’s composed and guided music and imagery journey called “The Magic Hot Air Balloon,” that simultaneously transformed the atmosphere and led into the opening speeches of the second conference. At the end of this concert, the 10th Nordic Music Therapy Conference was declared open.

The second conference was similarly organised to the first one: one main symposium hall where morning discussions were held, before heading off to various workshops, lectures and presentations. A lot of papers were presented, including topics such as music therapy and brain injury rehabilitation, psychotherapy, physical and mental disorders, autism spectrum, insomnia, and dementia, all with the opportunity for much deeper discussions after the presentations. Authenticity as a topic was also presented and there was a great discussion about its importance in music therapy work. Some books and technology apps were presented during the conference, such as NeuroPlayMusic, Satuseina Project and Feel & Play to help with adapting sounds, rhythm and using modern technologies to expand creativity for both therapist and client.

Various concerts and city hall meeting were organized for all of the participants to always feel welcome and to socialize. There was great food, and coffee was always freshly brewed just in time during the breaks.

I feel that I gained so much information during both conferences that I will need few weeks to process it all. It was such an honour to meet and talk to the speakers and I will do my best to reference all the research in my future thesis.