Throughout history, people have been inherently drawn to telling and listening to stories, and music enhances the experiences. In this AMTA-Pro podcast, Ron Borczon, Director of Music Therapy at California State University Northridge and of the Music Therapy Wellness Clinic, provides some compelling insights about music in storytelling, and shares some experiences in his clinical work. Ron talks about various aspects of the art of storytelling, the symbolic nature of the story, the listening environment, the role of music in the storytelling experience, and the different levels of processing stories with clients in music therapy group and individual sessions. Podcast listeners learn about using stories and myths in music therapy, and hear some thought-provoking stories accompanied by music, percussion, and an enchanting zither.


Storytelling in Music Therapy

Ronald M. Borczon, MT-BC

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AMTA-Pro Podcast

February, 2015

Storyteller's zither

storyteller’s zither

Ronald M. Borczon, MT-BC, founded the Music Therapy Department at California State University, Northridge in 1984. After more than 30 years, he remains director of the program, one of only two in the State of California. He also instructs classical guitar at the university. Ron is still active as a clinician working in the Music Therapy Wellness Clinic at CSUN.

Borczon is past president of the National Association of Music Therapy, Western Region. His clinical experience in music therapy spanning 30 years and encompassing numerous populations including psychiatric, intellectual and developmental disability, autism, post-traumatic stress syndrome and substance abuse. He has presented numerous papers at national and regional conferences, as well as given many public service presentations. In 1994, he received the Presidential Award from the President of the National Association for Music Therapy. This prestigious honor was given in recognition of Music Therapy work done following the 1994 Northridge earthquake where he developed innovative music experiences to help school age children in the Northridge community deal with the earthquake trauma. In 1995, Borczon conducted a special workshop on Music Therapy and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder for therapists in Oklahoma City after the Oklahoma City bombing. While in Oklahoma, Borczon worked not only with the therapists who were treating family members and survivors, but he also worked directly with a survivor from the bombing. In 1998, he was awarded a grant from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to investigate the effectiveness of two different approaches of music therapy on expressive communication with autistic children, and in 1999, Borczon was awarded the “Betty Isern Howery Award,” the highest distinction given in the Western Region Association for contributions to the field of Music Therapy. He was asked to help in the planning of music therapy interventions for the students of Columbine High School in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy and the Santee High School shootings. In 2006, Ron was awarded the “Award of Merit” from the American Music Therapy Association at the National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. This award is the one of the highest forms of recognition given by the national office for contributions to the field of music therapy. In 2007 he was awarded the “Outstanding Faculty Award” from California State University, Northridge. He has presented numerous workshops on the effectiveness of music therapy in the wake of a mass disaster.

In 1996 Borczon created the CSUN Music Therapy Wellness clinic that serves the Los Angeles community. The clinic currently enjoys three music therapists who work with clients of all ages and disabilities.

Ron Borczon has been interviewed many times for periodicals and venues such as LA Times, LA Daily News, Reader’s Digest, KNBC Channel 4 Los Angeles, and the Australian television show “What’s Good for You.” He appears on the Paul McCartney documentary DVD “The Space Within Us” and has also been seen as the music therapist for Danny Bonaducci in the VH1 show, “Breaking Bonaducci.” He has been consulted for many projects that appear in television and film.

He has two compact disc recordings on Centaur Records. In 1998 his book “Music Therapy, Group Vignettes” was published by Barcelona Publishing. In 2004 his second book “Music Therapy: A Fieldwork Primer” was also published by Barcelona Publishing. In 2013, Borczon’s chapter “Survivors of Catastrophic Event Trauma” was published in “Guidelines for Music Therapy Practice in Mental Health” and his chapter “Music Therapy for Survivors of Traumatic Events” was published in 2015 in the “Music Therapy Handbook.”