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Marinella Maggiori & Ruth Quinten. The Importance of Improvisation in the Rehabilitation Process of Children with Severe Genetic Disorders.

This presentation focuses on the use of musical improvisation during music therapy with patients of a developmental age with neurological disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, language delays or genetic syndromes. Our main goal is to illustrate the importance of musical improvisation and its different forms used during music therapy with this particular population. The value of improvisation as a form of interacting and creating a relationship and the different types of improvisation will be illustrated by examples from several case studies. For example one case study focusing on (vocal) improvisation with a boy with a rare genetic syndrome. A micro-analysis of a video-vignette will be analyzed and discussed in detail. In this vignette, the use of vocal improvisation and vocalizations is very important. These vocal improvisations between music therapists and patient can remind the viewer to Motherese (Trevarthen & Aitken, 2001). 

Marthe Helsen & Toungporn Puwajaroonkul. Musical Improvisation and Physiological Measures in People with Moderate and Severe Dementia. A Cross-Cultural Research.

Existing literature broadly describes the use of music within the treatment of people with dementia. Yet, the use of musical improvisation with this population can be further explored. This research project investigates the use of musical improvisation in the treatment of patients with moderate to severe dementia and additional behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), including the use of wearable devices to detect changes in physiological vital signs. The goal of this research is to explore whether there is a connection between changes in physiological perceptions and musical improvisation between therapists and persons with dementia within a safe therapeutic environment where the therapeutic relationship between therapists and persons with dementia is of utmost importance.

Different case studies will be conducted both in Belgium (UPC KU Leuven, Kortenberg) and in Thailand (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok), where the cross-cultural aspects that potentially influence the therapeutic process will be further explored. Our aims are: A) Do the cultural differences affect the measurements of the wearables? B) Is there synchronicity in physiological observations and musical development between the therapist and patient? C) is there a greater perception when therapist and patient improvise than when music is played in other ways?

We believe that this research project could signify the importance of musical improvisation within music therapy as an effective method in the care of people with dementia, and it can give a better insight into how the changes in physiological measures during the improvisation are correlated with the therapeutic interventions.

Lisa Jackert & Robin Rio. Strength-Based Improvisation.

Music therapists can be intimidated by improvisation, in many cases because they
believe improvisation must rely on extensive use of the piano at an advanced level. This emphasis on piano can be challenging for those who have an alternative primary 
instrument. Strength Based Improvisation (SBI) is an approach to clinical improvisation that allows the therapist the freedom to use the instrument(s) of their choice, including the voice, percussion, orchestral and folk instruments and movement.


SBI offers non-threatening experiences aimed at nurturing musical and inner strengths, recognizing that developing the strengths of the client and therapist are the foundation needed for self-expression. Exploring and building on musical and inner strengths occurs when experiences acknowledge and honor one’s “music self,” adapted from Nordoff Robbins concept of the music child. These strength-based experiences develop not only the music-self, but the whole person, uncovering and deeply knowing one’s true essence and relationship with music. The therapist becomes grounded in knowing their music-self by engaging in improvisation over a course of time, which is best experienced within a supportive peer group. Use of one’s strengths: musical, personal, clinical, and emotional, with ongoing development in achieving our potential as therapists and human beings, is the cornerstone of SBI. Our personal growth may become a parallel process with our client’s growth.


This workshop will be facilitated by two experienced music therapists who have led numerous professional and student improvisation groups and learning programs. These SBI founders have a combined 60 years of experience in clinical practice, university teaching, and advanced psychotherapy training, honoring the therapist’s journey to the music-self. Improvisation experiences will include chordal holding, song-based structures, free improvisation, toning, movement and created chant, and will be facilitated so participants may authentically engage, to pair their learning with creative self-expression.

Eric Pfeifer. Outdoor Music Therapy. How About Taking Improvisation Outside into Natural Spaces?

Introduction: Research has led to a growing evidence base that points towards the curative and preventive potentials of nature (surroundings) concerning human health and well-being. These days, an increasing number of therapists conducts therapy outside. Up to now, nature, music therapy, improvisation and their interrelationship have been rarely-discussed topics in music-therapy practice, research, and literature. In light of a therapeutic community that is rediscovering nature as a supportive component in healthcare, OdMT adds valuable perspectives to this development. Workshop participants will be introduced to basic principles and interventions of OdMT in general and the practice of music-therapy improvisation in outdoor settings in detail.

Methods: The workshop includes a mix of practical exercises, learning-by-doing elements, theoretical inputs, and joint discussions. If possible, the workshop will be held outdoors and/or in diverse settings available at the conference venue. Theoretical and practical foundations of OdMT result from a series of empirical studies, extensive literature surveys, and evaluated applications in various clinical contexts – thus, providing rich grounds for versatile approaches towards music-therapeutic improvisation in outdoor settings.

Results/aims: At the end of the workshop, the participants will be familiar with various forms, potentials and benefits of improvisation happening in outdoor music-therapy settings. Furthermore, the participants know about theoretical foundations of OdMT and nature-assisted approaches in music therapy with a focus on improvisation. 
Discussion: Moving music therapy and improvisation outdoors and including nature (settings) in music therapy expands the music therapist’s treatment spectrum. Conducting music therapy in nature affects the therapeutic relationship, process, and application of improvisation. Finally, addressing nature within music therapy and its methods, such as improvisation, may also lead to new perspectives in the context of current global challenges and crises (e.g., corona pandemic, climate change, climate anxiety, ecological responsibility, planetary health).

Inge Bracke. “I do the voices and you tell the story!”. Improvising Musical Stories in Pediatric Oncology.

Children and adolescents with cancer face an extremely stressful period in their lives. Music therapy has been embedded in the psychosocial support for cancer patients (aged 0 to 18) at the paediatric oncology department of the University Hospital in Leuven (Belgium) for 33 years. 

Various clinical music therapy methods that are based on an integrative multi-theoretical conceptual framework are implemented in the therapy sessions. The music therapist builds a trusting relationship and a safe transitional space by using the Holding and Containment principle. In this way patients can express themselves through play and music. Improvising a musical story is a method in which young patients, especially those in the 4- to 12-year-old age group, can communicate about their inner world and experiment with fantasy and reality. The story, created in the here and now, is the framework in which both fantasy play and improvised music are integrated. A continuous interaction occurs between the improvised music and the unfolding of the story, by which they influence each other. The music therapist has primarily a containment function. They facilitate the story and help create a field of illusion, in which the child (sometimes together with parents) can construct their own history in a pretend mode using spontaneous role-play, songs and improvised music. Affects can be regulated. Through various characters the child can give form to feelings in a controlled way, outside of themself. Recurring metaphors in the stories are: going on a journey, having to face with dangerous animals, ghosts or monsters. The main character is often a small and vulnerable animal or creature. This presentation will explain and illustrate the method with theory, case studies and audio clips.

D. Henry J. McPherson, Robyn Dowlen, John Keady, Alys Young, Caroline Bithell, Alexander Gagatsis, Lizzie Hoskin, Max Thomas, & Cathy Riley. Shaping the Moment Together: Training Residential Care Home Staff in Improvisation-Based Therapeutic Music-Making for Older Adults Living with Dementia.

This presentation will discuss findings from the UK NIHR SSCR funded project: “The impact of an improvised music-making programme on care home staff and family carer wellbeing: a process evaluation.” Between June 2022 and January 2024, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Manchester, in partnership with Manchester Camerata and the Open Doors Research Group (Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust), evaluated the impact of a new online training programme for professional carers in older adult and dementia residential contexts.  


Over a period of 20 weeks, staff from two care homes in Greater Manchester participated in “Music in Mind Training” – comprising fortnightly online meetings, and weekly face-to-face improvisation-based group music activities, co-delivered with professional musicians from Manchester Camerata. Staff were given access to a bank of videographic resources, engaged in reflexive discussions with the musicians, developed musical profiles of residents within their care, and shared knowledge around applied musical techniques and improvising in group settings. Through a syncretic analytic method drawing on Reflexive Thematic Analysis and Narrative Enquiry techniques, researchers from the University of Manchester have analysed interview data and field observations from these sessions, to develop a Theory of Change model for the training programme. The model highlights the importance of a core set of social, interpersonal, and institutional mechanisms by which the training has led to improvements in staff confidence, and overall sense of wellbeing. This presentation will focus on how improvisational methods are woven throughout the training programme, both in a musical and social sense. It will reflect on processes of co-creation, reflexivity, and adaptability, while outlining key features of the Theory of Change model, proposing futures for improvisation within training contexts.

Alberto Zanette & Alessio Surian. Relational Outcomes of Improvised Music Therapy Interventions for the Pediatric Population in Hospital.

Introduction: This paper presents some of the relational outcomes elicited by an Improvised Music Therapy (IMT) intervention addressed to hospitalized pediatric subjects. It investigates specifically the relational dynamics among music therapist, child and caregiver. Methods: 144 IMT interventions, conducted with subjects aged 1 to 16 years old, are examined considering three different approaches: free improvisation (F), improvisation after a songwriting activity (W), and improvisation after the performance of a favorite song (P). The three relational outcomes investigated are: the relationship between music therapist (MT) and child (C), child and caregiver (CG), and music therapist and caregiver. The following markers are used to evaluate the positive outcome of the intervention: music production, smile, laughter, eye contact, vocalization, singing, and speech. Results: All of the 144 IMT interventions show a beneficial effect in the creation of a relationship between MT and C. 96 (66,6%) of which utilizing the F approach, 33 (23%) the W, and 15 (10,4%) the P. 
77 (53,5%) IMT interventions show an additional improvement in the relationship between C and CG. 46 (59,7%) utilizing the F approach, 20 (26%) the W, and 11 (14,3%) the P.
66 (45,8%) IMT interventions show an improvement even in the relationship between MT and CG. 36 (54,5%) utilizing the F approach, 21 (31,8%) the W, and 9 (13,7%) the P. Discussion: The collected results display that, in hospital, an IMT intervention, able to attune to the child's current needs, facilitates the creation of a relationship between MT and C and can be an important tool to promote the relationship between C and CG and between MT and CG.

Sara Klinck. Clinical Improvisation with the Bereaved.

Bereavement groups are a common support context for grievers of death-related loss. When a music therapy bereavement group was implemented for widows with varying lengths of bereavement and loss-circumstances including complicated grief, a variety of music-making/listening methods were offered over the course of 8 weekly sessions. It was found that clinical improvisation was effectively applied for group connection, communication, self-expression, and ventilation of grief processes. Resistance appeared more pronounced during receptive listening experiences, as clients perceived that the therapist was responsible for playing something that made them feel sad, angry, or upset. Whereas group participants found music-listening distressing, instrument-playing appeared to provide a sense of control over the sound environment and symbolic control over the self-expression of grief-laden emotions. This presentation aims to highlight how active palpable engagement in improvisation, and instrument-choice, may contribute not only to identification of emotions but also to a greater sense of control and pacing: how much or when to confront the pain of grief. Instrumental improvisation may feel more manageable or tolerable during seasons of bereavement when precomposed, familiar, lyrical, association-rich music is too potent or painful. As clients directed their responses towards, into and through instruments, they appeared to access satisfying avenues for musical expression, identification and catharsis of the emotional landscape of grief. The presenter hopes to raise important considerations about the effectiveness of active improvisation versus receptive listening and how each might be more or less indicated in different periods and experiences of bereavement.

Bastian Vobig & Thomas Wosch. A Computational Approach to Interaction Type Analysis of Clinical Improvisations.

Musical improvisation in music therapy is a diverse and multifaceted technique to engage patients in emotionally rooted and intersubjective activity. Doing so, the creative potential of patients is being elevated into a self-assertive tool, connecting psychodynamic backgrounds with a musical surface (Bruscia, 1998; Erkkilä, 1997, 2004; Erkkilä et al., 2012). Assessing and analysing these complex multitude of information however is crucial in utilising musical improvisation for therapeutical purposes.


Traditional models for improvisation in music therapy include aural analysis and assessment of single sessions (Bruscia, 1987). Emphasizing the complex musical development in single improvisations, e.g. by microanalysis, one is confronted with more elevated methods (Trondalen & Wosch, 2016; Wosch & Erkkilä, 2016; Wosch & Wigram, 2007) and in parallel a more time-consuming analysis process, therefore leading to problems in implementing those methods in therapeutical practice. Addressing this imbalance, information technology aims towards easier application of more elaborate analysis techniques (Agres et al., 2021; Wosch & Magee, 2018). In our project (HIGH-M, we aim to contribute to this development by connecting elaborate analysis methods (IAP Autonomy Microanalysis) (Gruschka et al., 2011; Wosch, 2002, 2007, 2017) with computational analysis tools (MTTB) (Erkkilä, 2007; Erkkilä & Wosch, 2018; Luck et al., 2006) by formalization through sociological game theories (SGT) (Burns et al., 2017, 2018; Burns & Roszkowska, 2006) and computation with the help of machine learning algorithms (Joshi, 2023; Paluszek & Thomas, 2017).


The presentation submitted outlines the theoretical combination and exemplifies the application of our theory alongside concrete musical data. 

Monika Hoog Antink. The Concept of Stimulation and Countertransference in Improvisation.

Music therapy is often used with people, who don't have the ability to initiate contact, make music, imitate or just play along in an improvisation. This can include persons with severe disabilities, dementia or a disorder of consciousness. Nevertheless they also show recources, such as the capability to react to music and cause feelings and ideas in the music therapist. 
This presentation is based on an ongoing phd study about children with severe and multiple disabilities and takes place in a children day hospice. Creative music therapy is used to get in contact with this children. A concept of stimulation will be presented, which uses countertransference and actual findings from research.
Video material is used to illustrate the concept.

Ilse Van Reeth, Sabrina Vanpoucke, & Lisa Verleije. Let Your Voice Be Heard.

The voice, the most personal musical instrument, because part of the body itself, holds powerful therapeutic opportunities. In Vocal Psychotherapy we use the breath, natural sounds, vocal improvisation, songs and dialogue within a client and therapist relationship to facilitate intrapsychic and interpersonal change and growth. 
The objectives of the workshop are twofold. On the one hand, through active participation in vocal exercises within a safe environment, an opportunity is created for the participants to enhance awareness of their own comfortableness with using the voice in therapy sessions, and increase it. On the other hand, participants learn vocal improvisational techniques of various difficulty and intensity levels.   

As music therapists, we are trained to, and familiar with, using a variety of musical instruments to offer our clients a broad palette of possibilities to self expression. However, both clients and therapists can feel reluctant to use the voice in therapy sessions because of its personal character. The therapist being comfortable using their own voice is of fundamental importance for clients feeling the safety to discover and use theirs. 
Vocal improvisation with groups requires a certain level of ‘vocal self confidence’ on the part of the music therapist, but it offers many opportunities for self exploration and self expression to clients. On an individual level, during vocal group improvisations, clients can get in contact with a deeper affective layer. They are offered a space to give voice to the inner child, and in doing so, to feel held and accepted by the group. On a group level, vocal group improvisations have the power to increase connections (both between clients and therapist, and between clients themselves), to create a space for vulnerability but also for playfulness. 

No professional singing training is required. The willingness to dive into an unexpected vocal journey is.

Katie Down. Sound Painting and Deep Listening Techniques in Clinical Improvisation.

This workshop will provide participants the opportunity to explore two improvisational approaches that incorporate the gestural language of Sound PaintingTM, created by composer and improviser, Walter Thompson, and Deep ListeningTM practices cultivated by the late composer and sound pioneer, Pauline Oliveros. The importance of creativity and curiosity with our clients will be discussed and applied with these two improvisation techniques which are engaging, fun, and deeply cultivated practices. This experiential workshop will demonstrate how these techniques can be incorporated into music therapy pedagogy and clinical applications for music therapists to facilitate in both dyadic and larger group contexts. One primary reason for depression and isolation is the felt sense of being disconnected from ourselves and others. When engaged in the act of play and creative inquiry, clients can begin to feel an authentic sense of connection and integrated embodiment. Sound Painting and Deep Listening techniques are wonderful tools for clinicians and teachers interested in integrating methods that can be readily applied in clinical improvisation through a multi-model approach. Participants will come away with applicable tools and techniques to incorporate into their clinical work as well as a theoretical framework for further inquiry and discovery.

Monika Smetana & Irene Stepniczka. Dialogue Questionnaire (Dia-QNR) - Assessing and Reflecting Subjective Experiences in a Dyadic Music Therapy Improvisation Setting.

The Dialogue Questionnaire (Dia-QNR) is a written de-briefing questionnaire for clinical and/or empirical assessment of intra- and interpersonal processes in dyadic music therapy improvisations between a client and a music therapist. 

Immediately after a music therapy improvisation, both players reflect on their subjective experiences retrospectively. The topics of reflection comprise the perception of mutual relatedness, their self-perception, and the perception of the other. Next to the purpose of stimulating reflection, the questionnaire also creates a basis for verbal exchange and thereby opening up insights regarding relational qualities, ongoing processes, and intra- and interpersonal phenomena. All of these are collected through similarly / complementary questions directed to the music therapist (T) and the participant / client (P).

Within the here presented version there are ten questions that address the main topics of relational aspects (relatedness, closeness – difference, attunement – separation, musical dialogue and contact), based on a differential understanding of psychodynamic and humanistic principles in music therapy. These questions as well as the items used in the Dia-QNR are based on a qualitative category system developed by the authors. 

In this workshop, after a brief introduction to the structure and scope of the Dia-QNR, the application of the questionnaire will be demonstrated and practically explored by the participants. We will exemplify the setting by active improvisations in live role plays between T (therapist) and P (participant / client) and will apply the Dia-QNR versions T and P accordingly, as well as an observer version (Dia-QNR-O). The latter is especially developed for external ratings. 

In a final step, indications and possible values for clinical and/ or empirical application of the Dia-QNR will be discussed.

Arina Epure, Thomas Dietzen, Katrien Foubert, Jos De Backer, & Toon Van Waterschoot. Music Analysis Methods Applied to Recorded Improvisational Music Therapy.

There are several music analysis methods that have been applied to improvisational music therapy over the years, mostly starting from a MIDI representation of the improvisational performance. In this research the aim is to record group therapy sessions which use acoustic instruments, thus, no MIDI data can be directly extracted and analysed. The key to retrieving the musical features of interest from the recorded audio files is detecting and separating the note onsets in the audio files. There are several algorithms designed to extract such information, depending on the context in which this information is used, or the type of instruments played. In this presentation we provide a comparison of different note onset detection methods and and an indication of which are the potentially more suited algorithms for analysing group music therapy quantitative data such as metric deviations.

Giada Fiore & Rita Meschini. The Music Therapist’s Countertransference: Working on Self-Improvement through Musical Improvisation.

This work stems from the internship experience carried out at the “Istituto di Riabilitazione Santo Stefano”, located in Porto Potenza Picena (MC), which deals with people with severe motor, cognitive and communication impairments following an acquired brain injury. The internship was part of the two-year music therapy program at the Conservatorio Frescobaldi in Ferrara.

The paper aims to explore the music therapist's countertransference by proposing work on oneself through musical improvisation. Specifically, after the sessions with patients during the internship experience, individual emotional experiences were translated into the language of sound and music through improvisations on the piano conducted outside the music therapy setting. These improvisations were then analyzed to seek a correspondence between sounds, emotions, and meanings. The goal was to achieve a greater awareness of personal emotional states and, consequently, of sound-musical identity (ISO), to access unconscious regions of one’s personality, and to accept and process aspects of the self, both positive and negative.
In the analysis of the sound-musical improvisations, MIDI clips of the same improvisations, exported from the music software Ableton Live, were used to observe the movement of the entire improvisations through a visual representation, that helped the analysis. Finally, a correspondence was found between the visual representation of the improvisations and Daniel Hill's theory of affect regulation.

In summary, a journey of self-knowledge and self-awareness regarding emotional and affective dynamics has been carried on through the sound-musical mean: the work performed allowed the author to understand, recognize, manage, and modulate personal emotions, establish an authentic relationship with the patient, attune oneself with him, manage the transference and countertransference aspects of the relationship, and avoid potential burnout.

Katrien Foubert & Jared Houghtaling. Toward a Federated Network of Collaboration, Analysis, and Exchange in Music Therapy Research.

Across the various member states in the European Union, there are now approximately 10’000 music therapists performing therapeutic sessions with more than 100’000 patients annually. Many national and European research grants have been awarded to the field and have promoted international collaboration in multi-site trials. Practicalities of how to collaborate effectively between different sites and how to synthesize data from diverse sources, however, have yet to be properly defined. In other words, access to large patient cohorts is critical in order to draw statistically significant conclusions on music therapeutic processes and outcomes, but aggregating those data from different sites into a single location is not practical due to administrative overhead, ethical and privacy concerns, political implications, and technical expertise requirements. Moreover, protocols for therapeutic intervention and standardized data collection vary widely at both national and international levels. In this presentation, we propose a framework of exchange (i) to define and disseminate high-quality intervention protocols and standard data collection practices internationally, (ii) to share insights and validate research findings without violating data privacy or GDPR regulations, and (iii) to produce high-quality, highly collaborative output that will futher strengthen the quality of research on improvisation in music therapy in Europe and beyond.

Montse Merino. Applied Scientific Music Therapy. Improvisation: Education, Art and Science. Communication, Consciousness and Personality.

How are Improvisation, Sound, Music & Being Human related?
Improvisation, Sound and Music establish a bridge between the internal and external world; It enables a way to connect the conscious, physical and tangible part with the abstract and unconscious; It provides a way to be, communicate and express yourself. Discover a new way of presenting ourselves and being in the world.

The parameters of Sound and Music and their combinations acquire their own meaning, they are directly related to the structure and functions of the Nervous System, specific aspects of communication, consciousness and personality, so that they resonate, activate and attend to individual and specific specificities. group, allowing to obtain a perspective and information both for the assessment and in the intervention process, designing personalized neuro-bio-psycho-physiological treatments, where previously, simultaneously and subsequently, the evolution of the person or group is analyzed from a perspective objective, where the main source of observation and intervention are improvisation, sound and music. Neurologically speaking, each parameter of improvisation, sound and Music is autonomous and relatively independent of others in its operation (input and output channels), although applied to a field they always work in a coordinated manner. Since 2005 I have studied improvising musicians from different places and have obtained information through music created at the time, conversations and experiments with them. In Music Therapy I will always consider the importance of obtaining a quick and accurate diagnosis, which allows us to act as soon as possible by implementing a non-pharmacological treatment that responds quickly to the specificities of the patient in an effective way and where the patient, if possible, is preserved from the attacks and side effects produced by pharmacological medication, in the different phases of its process. For some patients, they need care throughout their lives.

Marta Lissoni, Agostino Longo, Mirko Maddaleno, & Leonardo Mariotti. Improvisation: A Case Study - Sono Venuto a Suonare, e Di Nascosto a Danzare. (P. Conto)

This work aims at contributing to the discussion on the peculiarities of improvisation within music therapy practice. Through a clinical case we explore the relationship between the improvisational act and the emergence of the so-called relevant moments.
The main intention is to underline when and how these moments occur, while describing which elements made them possible.


Through the analysis of video excerpts, we also reflect on how the subjective experience of improvisation - which by its very nature is difficult to put into words -is also revealed through specific qualitatively observable elements. With this understanding, and the awareness that reflection is a continuous process, we discuss how aspects belonging to the musical sphere, along with those which relate to the body and corpereity (pulsation, musical/ affective synchronization, bodily listening) are transformed during the different moments of improvisation.

Olga Vetosjkina. Discovering How to Improvise on the Accordion in Music Therapy.

”There has been little mention of the use of the accordion in music therapy literature” (Oldfield, Tomlinson, & Loombe, 2015). The most used instruments in music therapy are piano, guitar and drums. Why not accordion? This presentation will help you discover the accordion's possibilities and show the accordion in the new light: you will here about accordion's types, techniques and experience improvisational highlights - how to make stories with help of different sounds on the accordion. 

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Monika Hoog Antink. Music Therapy for Children with Severe and Multiple Disabilities - A Mixed Methods Research.

This multi-perspective dissertation project explores the influence of music therapy on children with severe to profound multiple disabilities. It combines quantitative and qualitative data in a mixed methods design, to take the children’s experience, the music therapeutic intervention and the music therapist’s perspective into account. The children are between 6 and 14 years old and visit a daycare hospice in Hamburg, Germany. They are not able to share their experiences verbally and have only little possibility to join in music-making, imitate, or take turns. The study aims to answer the following questions:
- does music therapy have any influence on vital signs during the session?
- can music therapy stimulate attention, emotion and interaction?
- what distinguishes music therapy with these children?
- is there a difference in music therapy between children who were born with a disability and children who suffered from an accident or sickness later in their childhood?
- and ultimately: is there a correlation between the vital signs and a possible stimulation? A previous systematic literature review showed a research gap and is now followed by a mixed-methods study in parallel design. Physiological signals (heart rate variability, heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory rate variability and oxygen saturation) are recorded during the music therapy sessions and analyzed. The results are compared with the outcome of the video-based microanalysis and the findings of the reflexive thematic analysis of the therapy documentation. Preliminary findings are presented, as wel as a discussion and limitations.

Simone Rizzardi. Experimental Analysis of Sound-Music Improvisation as a Stimulus for Social Interaction and Communication in Individuals with Severe/Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities (S/PIMD).

This study investigates the effect of musical sound improvisation on communication and social interaction in people with severe/profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (S/PIMD). Using a 6-month crossover experimental approach, six people participated in 2 weekly music therapy sessions. They alternated between structured meetings and improvisation-only meetings. Results showed that improvisation embedded in a structured session dynamic was more successful than improvisation alone. There was evidence of a qualitative increase in social interactions and communication over time.
People with S/PIMD experience the world in particular ways because of their disabilities, which affect physiological functioning and expressiveness. Sound-music interaction emerges as a promising field for making connections and supporting the development of early communication and interaction skills. Six participants diagnosed with S/PIMD, aged 26 to 47 years, were selected for the study. The communication of these individuals was nonverbal, expressed through body movements, gestures and vocalizations. There are two main defining characteristics of PIMD: (I) profound intellectual disability and (II) established motor impairment. The primary objective of the study was to assess which between musical improvisation, embedded in a structured session and that embedded in a 'pure' session with only improvisation, was more effective for social interactions and communication. 

Methods: Each person participated in two weekly sessions for six months. The sessions alternated between a structured meeting with improvisation inside as well and an improvisation-only session .
The structured meeting included: a welcome song, listening to 2 songs (always the same), sensory sound stimulation , S.M. improvisation and a final song.

The 'pure' meeting included: a welcome song, S.M. improvisation and a concluding song.

Ieva Langaite & Jef Ballon. The Paika Band: Empowering Adolescents through Music.

The PAika band is an inclusive band project designed for children and adolescents aged 10 to 20 who are dealing with mental health issues, emotional challenges, or social difficulties. The project was created by a music therapist, social worker and bass guitarist, both working in a Psychiatric Ward for infants, children, and adolescents in UZ Brussel. 
Its goal is to promote connection between peers, promote creativity, and activate and motivate children and teenagers facing mental health challenges. While this project is nestled within the psychiatric ward, it aims to prevent or shorten hospital stays by helping children and teenagers before, during and after their hospitalisation. Music by itself allows the participants to bond, to learn to attune, and support each other, while simultaneously letting them discover their sense of self.
In this workshop, participants will be invited to get to know and experience the PAika band project themselves. Not only will they get to know the process of creating a band and its structure, but participants will also experience the method behind it and be able to play and improvise together. Additionally, we will discuss together how band projects can serve as a catalyst for positive change within psychiatric care and can empower adolescents facing mental health challenges.

Bhawida Vorawatchapathin. Improvisation Music Therapy Intervention for Patients with Psychosis: A Narrative Review of the Literature.

Numerous sources showed the positive effects of music therapy on people experiencing psychosis. Improvisation intervention is perhaps the most widely used and adapted intervention for patients with psychosis. This narrative review was conducted to gain knowledge of therapeutic techniques used in improvisation, and in which approaches for patients with psychosis. The format and dose of sessions, clinical goals, outcomes of music therapy, and tools to analyze improvisation are also focused on. From 6 relevant databases, a total of 15 articles satisfied the inclusion criteria. The results of the review showed therapeutic techniques commonly used among various approaches are forming mutual rhythm, providing pulsation, and therapist attitudes are empathic listening and acceptance. Most studies showed the use of improvisation intervention based on psychodynamic approach. The approach or model may have contributed to different techniques chosen by the therapist in the improvisation. Music therapists conducted the session in a group format almost equal to individual format, usually occurring 1 to 2 sessions per week. The most common duration is 30 minutes. The number of sessions ranged from 1 to 78 sessions. Clinical goals mostly used are to reduce psychiatric symptoms and to develop interpersonal interaction. Most of the retrieved studies showed positive clinical outcomes of improvisation intervention for patients with psychosis. Tools to analyze improvisation usually determine the level of musical engagement and interaction involving the therapist and the client. However, the relationship between each technique in the improvisation intervention within each approach and outcomes can still be further explored in the future. The future research could be replicated in a larger sample size, explore subjective experience of therapists and patients, which musical components make the improvisation effective for each clinical setting, the long-term effectiveness, and the use of the improvisation in other cultural contexts, or in Asian cultural context.

Koert van Essen. Active Elements and Working Mechanisms of Music Therapy for Reducing Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in People with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Research Proposal.

Active elements and working mechanisms of music therapy for reducing neuropsychiatric symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s disease: a research proposal. Globally, over 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and due to the ageing population these numbers are rapidly growing. Studies in the last decade showed that music therapy can be effective in reducing neuropsychiatric symptoms such as apathy and agitation in people with AD. However, little is known about how and why music therapy is involved in reducing these symptoms. This research aims to shed more light on active elements and working mechanisms of music therapy for reducing neuropsychiatric symptoms in people with AD. Four studies are scheduled to investigate active elements and working mechanisms of music therapy for reducing neuropsychiatric symptoms in people with AD. First, a group concept mapping study is planned. This mixed-methods design collects specific music therapy aspects from music therapists in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany working with people with AD. The objective of the second and third studies is to obtain more knowledge on specific active elements and working mechanisms of music therapy for reducing neuropsychiatric symptoms in people with and without AD. More specific, experimental studies are planned where the influence of predictability in melodic and temporal elements of music on arousal will be tested in healthy participants and people with AD. The last study contains the development of a music therapeutic micro intervention where specific aspects of music therapy, including active elements and working mechanisms elements, will be incorporated. 

Nicky Haire & Becky Lockett. Improvisation as a Way of Being in Music Therapy: Encounters with Meaning and Sound. 

In exciting anticipation of the forthcoming Jessica Kingsley book, ‘Improvisation as a way of being in music therapy: Encounters with meaning and sound’, Dr Nicky Haire and Dr Becky Lockett will discuss the unique making of the book, initially inspired by Goffman’s theory of encounters (1963) and created through a series of real life and virtual musical encounters, improvising and dialoguing with music therapists, music therapy students, music psychologists and improvising performers. The encounters, which took place across the UK, over a period of four years, in both a pre- and post pandemic timeline, generated core themes such as the role of play, embodiment, remote working, and how musical risk taking is essential to the development of both client and therapist. Situated within the new area of interdisciplinary scholarship ‘improvisation studies’ (Caines, and Heble, 2015), this book draws on what Sutton (2019) refers to as the ‘third literature’, using musicology, music psychology and philosophy to highlight important themes in our ever growing understanding of how and why we improvise as music therapists. This presentation is useful for anybody wanting to explore how Goffman’s theory of encounters can inform their music therapy practice, and how lively dialogues with a wide range of music practitioners can help us as a profession to continue to develop and wonder about the role of improvisation in music therapy. 

Hannah Riedl. „Do you really want to play?” A Historical Book Project about Alfred Schmölz (1921–1995). Austrian Music Therapy Pioneer and Great Influencer of Active Therapeutic Improvisation.

Background: Prof. Alfred Schmölz (1921–1995) was one of Austria’s music therapy pioneers. He was Head of the Viennese training program from 1970 until 1992, the oldest academic music therapy training in Europe, founded in 1959, and shaped the training towards psychotherapy. Originally rooted in piano education, Schmölz focused his therapeutic work mainly on active improvisation techniques in the field of adult psychosomatic medicine. Terms such as “Einzeltonspiel” [one tone play], “Einstimmung” [tuning in], or “instrumentales Partnerspiel” [instrumental partner play] are strongly connected to his work.
Moreover, the professional development of music therapy in the German speaking countries – and beyond – was highly, but indirectly, impacted by Schmölz, since many founders of education programs in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland were trained by him. Yet, his original writings have not been widely disseminated and are thus not recognized by the younger generations of music therapy students. Project: The book, first presented in 2021 and published by Praesens, contains two parts. Firstly, 21 manuscripts written by Alfred Schmölz between 1970 and 1991 (in German, only one in English) have been transformed from old typewriter documents or out-of-print issues into a modern and uniform book layout. Secondly, seven music therapists, most of whom were trained by Alfred Schmölz himself and were/are music therapy trainers themselves, write and interpret these manuscripts from piano pedagogical, psychotherapeutic, trauma-therapeutic, practical, didactical, and other perspectives. Conclusion: The interested reader will find original manuscripts about music therapy improvisation and education written by Alfred Schmölz between 1970 and 1991 as well as contextualizations and interpretations of his work. Acknowledgements: This book project involved cooperation with WIM – Wiener Institut für Musiktherapie [Viennese Institute for Music Therapy] and was financially supported by “Hochschuljubiläumsfond Wien” [public research fund of Vienna].

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