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Improvisation as music therapy

Aug 13, 2015


  1. 1. + Improvisation as Music Therapy By Gilbert M. Batangan
  2. 2. + Characteristics of Improvisation Improvisation is described as taking place on a one-to one basis with a therapist over multiple sessions. This essentially involves therapist and client performing music together that is spontaneously in some or all respects. Wigram (2004) has categorized the activities that may be undertaken by a therapist and improvising on a one-to-one basis with a client. These include:
  3. 3. + Improvisational Actvities for Music Therapy Mirroring: simultaneously playing what the client is playing, as nearly as possible. This is intended to give a message to the client that they are meeting them at exactly at their level and provide conformation of their activity. Matching: producing musical input compatible with the clients though not identical, within the same parameters of tempo, dynamic, etc. Emphatic improvising and reflection: the therapist playing to the client, or following the clients input, in a way that articulates or restates the clients apparent emotional state, to provide supportive and emphatic confirmation.
  4. 4. + Grounding, holding, and containing: providing ongoing stability through constant and repetitive rhythm or tonality. Dialoguing: understood as communication through music analogous to conversation, either on the basis of turn-taking, interjection or simultaneous input. Modeling: providing a musical idea or theme for the client to develop of respond to. Accompanying the clients music at a lower dynamic level on the basis of rhythm, harmony and/or melody, to provide support and empathy.
  5. 5. + Music Therapy Improvisation Session In example of music therapy improvisation, Ben improvises a melody over a chord structure played by the therapist. Ben has no previous musical training. Many techniques are used such as mirroring, matching, grounding, dialoguing, and modeling.
  6. 6. + Example of Grounding
  7. 7. + Effects on health of well-being Physical benefits Improvisational therapy can benefit patients recovering from neurological damage. Aigen (2009) describes the experience of time-keeping on a cymbal during improvisation sessions improving the recovery of motor skills of a patients arm. Benefits to mental health Improvisation increases vigour Reduces tension, stress, and anxiety. Enhances self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-awareness Improvisational theory can improve patients with communication difficulties.
  8. 8. + Group improvisation in music therapy Musical therapy group improvisations are a powerful tool for working with groups of clients who do not communicate successfully using verbal means. This technique has grown in popularity for those interested in using creative experimental modalities for gaining insight into self and their relationships with others (McFerran, Wigham, 2007)
  9. 9. + Advantages of Music Therapy in Groups Music Provides an Opportunity to Work Through Issues in a Different Way: Music therapy group improvisations encourage people to participate freely and express themselves spontaneously, resulting in a unique manner of interaction with group members. Music is Different to Words Music offers the opportunity to express abstract ideas and feelings.
  10. 10. + Music can communicate feelings without words Music Transcends Psychology Music may provide a link to the spiritual side of human nature. Experiences such as spiritual can transcend the individual experience. Improvisations Create a Musical Portrait of the Individual Music Creates an Interactive Entity Music therapy group improvisations result in the creation of group music. The group sound is experienced as an interactive entity that overcomes individual issues.
  11. 11. + What is happening in an improvising brain? Charles Limb: Your brain on improv: Charles Limb a neurosurgeon conducted a study to see how the brain works during musical improvisation. Jazz musicians and rappers were put in an fMRI to measure brain activity during improvisation.
  12. 12. + In the study two paradigms were given: Scale paradigm; which consists of playing a scale up and down memorized, and improvising on the scale. Jazz paradigm: which consists of learning the melody of the music, then improvising melodies on the exact chord changes
  13. 13. + The image below represents the contrast maps that show subtractions between what happens during improvisation versus playing music that is memorized. The red area is the prefrontal cortex, represents the frontal lobe of the brain. The blue sections represent the deactivated areas of the brain.
  14. 14. + According to Limb, consciousness is contained in the frontal lobe. During improvisation, a part of the brain is self- monitoring. This is the area that is thought to be autobiographical and expressive.
  15. 15. + It is reasonable to hypothesize that to be creative, you have to disassociate yourself with your frontal lobe, or your consciousness. This way, you will be willing to make mistakes and take chances during an improvisation.
  16. 16. + In Conclusion Improvisation as music therapy can provide benefits to patients as well as students. Improvisation provides an outlet of creativity for the subject. More research needs to be conducted to provide evidence of how improvisation works with the brain, and how can it be used to treat patients suffering from alzheimers, dementia, and depreusission.