In Memoriam: Dr. Carolyn Kenny (1946 – 2017)

November 29, 2017

Dr. Carolyn Kenny

Carolyn Kenny, one of the founders of the Capilano Music Therapy program, died on October 15, 2017, little more than a year after she was diagnosed with cancer. Carolyn still had many projects planned when she died, but her contributions to the field of Music Therapy will last forever.     

The Capilano program, the first Canadian Music Therapy program, was envisioned in a creative partnership between Carolyn and Nancy McMaster in 1976.  Their experiences of the Children’s Spontaneous Music Workshop, a radical approach to improvisation with children with a variety of challenges, gave them a shared perspective that was ahead of its time. Humanist and spiritual perspectives and values that were held by Carolyn and Nancy, inform the depth and the integrity of practical and theoretical foundations of the Capilano program.  Carolyn’s First Nations lineage and her deep faith in the healing power of all Creative Arts had strong influences on the creation of the program as a result of her passion.  Students in the Capilano program will always benefit from the influence of Carolyn’s values and vision, even now after her death.

Carolyn went on to establish the first Canadian Master of Music Therapy program in 1995, an advanced Master’s program for professional Music Therapist seeking to deepen and expand their practice and perspective.  Carolyn also taught at Simon Fraser University, Antioch University and City University, as well as being a guest lecturer at numerous programs through the world, including Denmark, Norway, Japan, the U.S. and Brazil.  Many graduates, and other Music Therapists mentored by Carolyn, have gone on to obtain their doctorates and are leaders in Music Therapy today.

Carolyn’s publications have had a wide-ranging influence among the international Music Therapy community.  Her book, The Field of Play, brought her philosophical, spiritual and clinical concepts together into a unified theory of key elements of Music Therapy.  Her extensive dialogues with colleagues around the world have challenged and expanded basic tenets of our profession.  

As a Music Therapy pioneer, Carolyn has created an extraordinarily profound and lasting legacy.  She will be sorely missed by many.  In the coming months, the Music Therapy faculty at Capilano and the local Music Therapy community will be gathering for a Celebration of Life to honour Carolyn.  

For a more extensive perspective on Carolyn’s life and contributions, please visit:

Music Therapy Association of BC Memorial

American Music Therapy Association, In Memoriam


Submitted by: Sylvia Huzek