Jamal J Glynn
Alumni. Music Therapist.
Jamal graduated in 2011 as the first MA music therapist in the world to use the steelpan as primary instrument. After this, he returned home to Trinidad, and within three weeks was assigned to the Ministry of Health.
What have you been up to since graduating from ARU?
In the third year of my initial employment period I was able to secure the first clinical music therapy post in Trinidad and Tobago’s public sector under the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA), though at the time, the Ministry of Health were not in a position to create posts for this. Therefore, for the following 8 years I worked to get cabinet approval, and attended two consultations in 2019 to get the policy amended.
I also received a Developmental Need's Award scholarship from the Trinidad and Tobago Government. Part of the requirement for this was 2 years obligatory service. I was assigned to the Psychology Department at St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital Port of Spain, mostly working at outreach clinics in the community and inpatient wards. This also included over 6 years on a forensic ward, working with long-term patients with no previous experience of music therapy intervention.
What were your particular highlights on the MA Music Therapy course at ARU?
I went to three clinical placements on the course, which were all very useful: at Granta Special Needs school, St. Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham and Fulbourn Hospital. For the second, the whole semester I had to travel at 5am once weekly in order to arrive there before 8.00 am. Nonetheless, I also got to perform at a Christmas function on my country's national instrument for her Majesty Princess Alexandra, who is a patron of St. Christopher's Hospice.
We also had dramatherapy, art therapy and dance and movement therapy master classes. I recall a dance therapist came in and gave us the most amazing dance session. We all paired up, so the moves were synchronized. It was supportive to have first-hand experience with another creative modality and, as I was paired with the therapist, I gained insights into the possibilities of the client / therapist relationship.
How did the MA Music Therapy help prepare you for your future career?
You had the opportunity to talk face to face with every lecturer, discover your strengths and weaknesses, and work over time with their support and guidance. The mentorship was one of the best things about the course. So many professors gave me good advice and led by example. Notably, the late Professor Tony Wigram once said to me: “Jamal! Work hard, no stress and be happy.” I learnt to channel my anxieties through busking, supervision and personal therapy, and to appreciate all that is around me. As Tony would have said, I couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling professional development.