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Music Therapy Conversations

May 23, 2023

Luke spoke to Preet Kalsi about her musical upbringing, and her training and subsequent work as a music therapist. The conversation also explored the relationship between psychodynamic and indigenous perspectives in her work.

Gurpreet Kaur Kalsi is from Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, and of Punjabi and Kadazan (Indigenous to Sabah) heritage. She is a music therapist and GIM therapist. She works with clients of all ages with psychiatric and medical conditions in healthcare, community, education, and corporate settings. Her work navigates psychodynamic approaches with culture and Indigenous concepts towards the dynamics of life and healing within oneself, the community, and the environment. She has recently begun incorporating EMDR with music therapy and GIM in the treatment of trauma.


Instruments referred to during the conversation 

- the knobbed gongs that are played communally. It accompanies the Sumazau dance at Pesta Magavau, the rice Harvest Festival in May, and at all social events and gatherings.

- the sompoton. played by blowing and drawing air.

- the tongkungon - a bamboo zither for playing the 'tagung' (gong) rhythm pattern. The strings are bamboo strips cut from the bamboo node.



Colonialism and Music Therapy Interlocutors (CAMTI) Collective (2022) Colonialism and Music Therapy. Barcelona Publishers.

Pugh-Kitingan, Jacqueline. (2014). Balancing the Human and Spiritual Worlds:  Ritual, Music and Dance Among Dusunic Societies in Sabah.  Yearbook for Traditional Music, 46:172-192.

Pugh-Kitingan, Jacqueline, Hanafi Hussin & Judeth John Baptist.  (2009).  Symbolic Interactions between the Seen and the Unseen through Gong Music and Dance in the Lotud Mamahui Pogun.  Borneo Research Journal, 3:221-237.

Pugh-Kitingan, Jacqueline, Hanafi Hussin & Judeth John Baptist. (2009). A Conduit Between the Seen and Unseen:  Comparing the Ritual Roles of Drumming and Gong Ensemble Music in the Mamahui Pogun of the Lotud of Tuaran and the Monogit of the Kadazan of Penampang, Sabah.  Tirai Panggung.  Jurnal Seni Persembahan, 9:98-123.

Pugh-Kitingan, Jacqueline & Judeth John Baptist.  (2009).  Music for Cleansing the Universe—Drumming and Gong Ensemble Music in the Mamahui Pogun Ceremonies of the Lotud Dusun of Tuaran, Sabah, Malaysia.  Borneo Research Bulletin. 40:249-276.