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Christine Stolterfoth & Eric Pfeifer.

Music Therapy, Improvisation and Meaning in Life: Towards the Relevance of Improvisation in Meaning-Oriented Music Therapy.

Introduction: Meaning in life is a distinct resource and indicator of human health and well-being. The human will to meaning is considered a prime motivation in human life. Current research reflects the importance of meaning in the context of work, society, and health. Individual studies highlight that music (e.g., active music making, listening to music, reading song lyrics) can play a decisive role in the process of meaning-actualization. Logotherapy and Existential Analysis (LTEA), developed by Viktor Frankl, as the third Viennese school of psychotherapy and meaning-centered approach in psychotherapy, offer highly useful components that can be adapted to music therapy and music-therapeutic improvisation.

Methods: The presentation will contain theoretical and methodical aspects derived from an extensive literature survey on music therapy, improvisation and LTEA, and empirical data from an international (mixed methods) survey on music therapy, meaning in life and mental disorders among German, Austrian and Swiss music therapists.

Results: Regarding the theoretical and methodical literature survey, an easy-to-understand model of music-assisted meaning-fulfillment will be introduced. Considering the results of the international study, improvisation and music therapy positively affect meaning in life and meaning fulfillment among patients suffering from mental disorders.

Discussion: Meaning in life is a potent ally in the context of professional health care. Combining LTEA and music therapy enriches the treatment spectrum of music therapists. Our empirical, theoretical and methodical work underlines the importance of improvisation as a crucial element of meaning-oriented music therapy and points to the need for further research.

Barbara De Giovannini & Veronica Zatti. 
Vocal Music Therapy Groups for Adults Wellbeing.

Large numbers of studies confirm that using voice in therapeutic fields have great effects on psycho-physical status of patients. Nonetheless informations about prevention sectors are few. The aim of this study is to investigate whether Vocal MusicTherapy (VMT) is able to modify intra- and interpersonal parameters that positively correlate with wellbeing among adults, acting on a prevention level. Furthermore, we investigated if VMT could be used as a prevention tool for BurnOut Syndrome (BS) among professional helpers.

Twenty-six (n=26) adults were recruited and formed three different groups (two groups within extra-working environment setting and group PH of professional helpers within a working environment setting). There where no exclusion criteria. 
Two music therapists conducted the VMT groups sessions once a week along a 10 weeks period of time (10 sessions lasting 60 minutes each).

Likert scales were submitted before and after each session.
Maslach BurnOut Inventory Test (MBI) was submitted at three different moments (T0, T1, T2) to group PH.
For Statistical analysis One Sample t-test method has been used.
Each parameter showed a statistically significant modification especially for those implicated with voice and mental, physical, general perception of wellbeing.

Nevertheless, MBI data showed that these great changes did not move BS dimensions.
This data suggest that VMT groups could modify positively intra- and interpersonal parameters that correlate with wellbeing among adults whether conducted in working environment or not.


Elaine Streeter. Exploring the Use of Musical 
Improvisation in Music Therapy Supervision.

Parallel processes are activated in supervision when the ways in which a therapist and client experience one another become reflected in the communicative relationship between therapist and supervisor. Thus, supervision can provide a reflective mirror. As music therapists often use musical improvisation with their clients, this workshop will explore how music improvisation between music therapy supervisor and music therapist supervisee may help illuminate aspects of the therapist/client musical transference relationship, enabling the therapist to alter their creative response in such a way as to provide the client with an opportunity to experience themselves differently.


Drawing on supervision casework scenarios, workshop participants will be invited to role play supervisor and supervisee. Listening is as important as making sounds when improvising in supervision. We shall notice how each pair's musical improvisation occurs, listen to the timing and mood of their exchanges, the ways in which they may or may not overlap,interrupt,dominate or become silenced. If they decide to speak, notice not only the words they choose, but how they choose to sound them, and what our bodies, as listeners, are communicating to us as we listen to their improvisation. Depending on numbers, not everyone will get to improvise in pairs during the workshop. However, the group will be invited to improvise a group musical response to each of the pair improvisations, during which the pair themselves will actively listen.  


As a group we will then consider how the pair, and group improvisations may have informed our understanding of the client/therapist relationships illustrated in the supervision role play scenarios. A supportive end to the experiential work will allow participants time to reflect.

Gaia Ambrogi & Camilo Cordoba. Tango within 
Therapy: a Way to Connect and Improvise.

Tango is an improvisational dance that evolved in the late 19th and 20th centuries in La Plata region of Argentina and Uruguay. Today, tango is taught and practiced on all continents. As a cosmopolitan yet conservative dance, tango brings together dancers worldwide in social gatherings known as milongas. Here, recordings of orquestas típicas from the ‘20s to the ‘50s, contemporary orchestras, and live music compete to enliven the dance floor.


In addition to the enjoyment or jouissance experienced at milongas, tango is used in the care sector as a non-pharmacological treatment for elderly individuals with dementia. Using tango in music therapy facilitates physical contact, synchronized movement, and shared bodily experience. Even in larger groups, tango encourages pairs to focus on each other and create their own improvised dance. Due to this one-to-one interaction, involving various professionals and even family into the tango sessions is feasible. Tango resonates with older generations in need of geriatric care because this music and dance style were popular in their youth, serving as a way to engage patients and motivate them to connect with themselves and others.


This workshop has three objectives: (1) offering insight into tango music, led by a professional tango musician and teacher; (2) conveying the foundational principles enabling improvisation in this dance; (3) discussing the use of tango in music therapy, both in geriatric departments and other settings. These aspects will be explored through discussions and practical exercises, allowing participants to engage physically and experientially.

Davide Woods. Group Analytic Music Therapy in 
Mental Health. Evaluation and Levels of Interpretation.

What do music therapists listen to when evaluating the process of change in the group’s capacity to express, integrate, and elaborate the musical experience? 

The changing of musical elements? The counter-transference? Verbal and non verbal elements? A multidimensional perspective on elements of “variance” is discussed in relation to existing literature. On the basis of 15 years of work with mental health patients attending group MT, I have tried to identify which elements are essential in the evaluation and understanding of the process within the group. 

Besides the traditional aspects of audio and video analysis I would like to propose a brief check list for elements of variance. This tool can be helpful in order to focus on specific elements which recur in the different sessions and that can help to identify aspects of dynamic change within the group. These elements are both musical and non musical and try to elicit aspects of change and if these can be related to the overall aims of music therapy in mental health, (notably a wider range of expressive and relational possibilities which may ensue symptoms reduction and overall wellbeing). The aim of this paper is to create a conceptual link between psychodynamic music therapy and specific tools which may sustain other levels of understanding of the music therapy process such as audio video analysis, awareness of counter transference, and the writing of protocols. 
The Brief Assessment Scale of Elements of Variance in Music Therapy (BASEV MT) is the elaboration of previous unpublished material (MA research project).

Maria Nikolaidou & Dora Psaltopoulou. Clinical Improvisation Fosters the Sense of Self of Adults with Psychotic Disorders. A Qualitative Study.

Psychotic disorders are associated with difficulties regarding the sense and perception of self, insight, and control of reality. Research in music therapy shows that it can be a helpful therapeutic approach to enhance communication, self-exploration, emotional expression, self-organization, and socialization.
Aim and method 

The present paper focuses on a multiple case study of four adults with chronic psychotic disorders participating in a music therapy group. 22 one-hour group sessions took place and one of the main interventions used was clinical improvisation. The aim of this paper is to explore how participants experienced the improvisations in the sessions and how music in that context was able to support and encourage them to explore and connect with their inner selves. Semi-structured interviews were conducted after the end of the intervention with all four participants and the data were processed through thematic analysis. 

The themes that emerged indicate significant changes in all participants’ clinical image and especially in their sense of self. Participants stated that the improvisation facilitated the recollection of important autobiographic memories, resulting in a therapeutic effect concerning the traumatic events they had experienced in the past. They also gained insight about conflicts and incongruencies in themselves and, while discovering their musical selves, they expressed the desire to move on significant changes. The results will be presented and discussed.

As clinical improvisation in a music therapy group setting seems to be able to encourage individuals with psychotic disorders to discover, process and share a clearer sense of self, further research on the field is recommended.

Birgit Sebreghts, Katrien Foubert, Toon Van Waterschoot, & Jos De Backer. Implementing Photovoice in a New Group Music Therapy Improvisation Intervention for Autism Spectrum Adults.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an early-onset neurodevelopmental condition defined by social impairments and restricted or repetitive behaviors. It is one of the most researched developmental disorders of the last decade and includes a high heterogeneity in symptom manifestation and daily life functioning. Music therapy improvisation interventions are proven to have a solid effect on general symptom reduction and mental health improvement in autistic individuals.


However, little is known about specific mechanisms of change and research has mainly been limited to dyadic interventions (patient vs therapist) and age groups of children and adolescents. Adults on the spectrum are remarkably lacking in current research, although voicing a great demand for music therapy improvisation interventions specifically tailored to their needs. Therefore, a study, nested in a larger interdisciplinary research collaboration between LUCA School of Arts and KU Leuven, addresses the feasibility of a new group-based music therapy improvisation intervention, fostering daily life situational flexibility in autism spectrum adults.


One of the challenges in this study is implementing a participatory research approach to understand situational flexibility more in-depth in terms of complex and often nuanced daily life experiences and the relation of these daily life experiences of flexibility with music therapy in-session experiences of flexibility. This presentation will discuss the implementation of PhotoVoice as a participatory visual research method in music therapy improvisation research. The focus will be adapting a classic docu-photo approach to an experienced sampling imaginative process approach and some future steps directing the process towards related mechanisms of change specific to music therapy improvisation.

Lise Timmermans & Anke Van den Bossche. A Tempo: The Rhythm of the Body of People Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a severe mental illness with depressive, (hypo)manic and mixed episodes, alternating with euthymic episodes. Symptoms characterized by extreme shifts in one’s mood, ability to function and energy level often result in financial problems, damaged relationships and suicide. The affect lability of people diagnosed with BD, f.e. the emergence of an affective- /energetic shift or changes in tempo, causes their own rhythm of life to become unbalanced. Reconnecting with themselves and their mood changes is therefore important. The affective level of Music Therapy (MT) takes us to the immediacy of the body and expresses the inner rhythm within these episodes. 

Pressure of speech, a symptom of mania,  is recognizable in the musical play during a manic episode. This drive causes an energetic, intense play which creates an expression of their inner restless rhythm. The almost non-existence of a silence or a soft melody can be seen as a manic defense against the emptiness of the depression. The musical improvisation within MT acts as a field of tension between two poles of extremities typical of BD. There is a fear of moving into the unknown between these poles and thereby getting in touch with their affective inner world. Touching this is fragile and leads to building a wall of resistance. This results in an unlived musical play that keeps their affective world at bay. It ensures that there is no reciprocity in the music, neither a connection. Within the improvisation, the music therapist tries to look for flexibility and pulsating movements between these fixed poles. Therefore safety can be found to trust in the possible regulation within one's own highs and lows. This musical process stands for the search of their known rhythm of life. Or said in musical terms, A Tempo: a return to the original tempo.

Becky Lockett. Leaning Towards the World: Improvisation Skills in Music Therapy as Enhanced Intentionality.

This philosophical paper presentation will explore a new theoretical idea considering how improvisation skills in music therapy require that students develop an enhanced intentionality, in which they learn an increased musical adaptability and flexibility. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s ‘Phenomenology of Perception’ (2012a) and building on Pavlicevic’s (1997) theory of dynamic form, this paper will explore the concept of musically ‘leaning towards the world’, considering how improvisation skills are developed through the processes of embodiment, habituation and as ‘the act of expression’ (Merleau-Ponty, 2012b, p.387).


As a student therapist develops improvisation skills, they begin to be able to resonate musically towards another in an amplified way, developing their, ‘listening presence’, in which there is a ‘directed attitude of listening and acknowledgement of the others uniqueness’ (Lockett, 2023, p.803). This is especially important when clients may have a reduced capacity to relate due to illness, disability or mental health. Situated within Improvisation studies, this paper explores the idea that music therapists are required to learn special musical skills, and that it is ‘enhanced intentionality’ that sets therapeutic improvisation apart from performance and other improvised musics. This theoretical concept has been developed out of the PhD study, ‘Learning to Improvise: The Lived Experience of Music and Music Therapy Students’ (Lockett, 2023).

Lea Wing Lam Cheung & Shaun Thomas. Improvising in the Pentatonic Scale with Chinese Instruments and its Uses in Alleviating the Symptoms of Young Adults with Traumatic Experience.

Aim: The aim of this research is to explore how improvising in the pentatonic scale with Chinese instruments influences the emotional development of young adults with traumatic experiences.

Background: Music therapy is often informally used in mental health care units to enhance emotional, cognitive and communication skills. However, many of these studies have only been carried out to establish the effectiveness of music therapy by using Western musical instruments, and only a few studies have discussed how Chinese music instruments can bring a positive impact in the context of music therapy. Chinese instruments should be welcomed into the world of music therapy, and for young adults with traumatic experiences, improvising with the pentatonic scale could potentially increase their self-confidence and allow them to engage in novel improvisational activities. 

Objectives: This study will discuss music therapy in Chinese music and how to employ it in treatment sessions by using Chinese music signatures alongside the pentatonic scales. The research questions in this study will examine how improvisation in the pentatonic scale on Chinese instruments may alleviate emotional symptoms and issues with developmental skills in young adults with traumatic experiences, looking at: a) coping, b) emotional regulation and, c) resilience. 
Method: This study takes the form of a phenomenological research design, by combining observation, semi-structured interviews, and trauma-informed assessments to collect and analyse data. In this study, we will conduct an eight-week music therapy session with three groups of young adults (comprising 2-3 people) involving listening and improvising in the pentatonic scale with the Guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument.

Conclusion: This study will provide new aspects for music therapy, and we hope to better understand the efficacy of Chinese music instruments and its use alongside the pentatonic scale in a mental health context.

Seppe Van Stee & Marjolein Wagemans. From Improvisation to Creation. A New Group Therapeutic Approach in Working with Psychosis.

As music therapists, we work within the psychosis care at the UPC KULeuven. In music therapy, we mainly use the method of clinical improvisation from the Leuven School of Music Therapy. Although this improvisational space is indispensable in the context of music therapy, patients experience the difficulty but the desire to hold on to the musical improvisations and experiences. 

This desire has catalyzed the expansion of clinical improvisation such as illustrated in Composition Plus (De Backer & Van Stee, 2020; De Backer, Sebreghts, & Foubert, 2022) or the formation of a creation group alongside improvisational music therapy. Here we start from free improvisation to collect musical material. The shaping of the musical creations is a process that is worked out over several sessions. This creation group is proving to be a great added value for patients within their music therapy process, and the dialogue between improvisational music therapy and the creation group is also interesting.
In this workshop, this innovative form of working in a creative group will be illustrated through personal experience and explained with the help of case examples, video and audio material. It will also be underpinned by theoretical aspects of music therapy thinking, with time for discussion at the end.

Marinella Maggiori, Elena Biolcati, Frederica Lanciotti, Silvia Guazzaloca, Bianca Casoni, Luca Mascagni, & Emanuela Napolitano. The Use of Group Improvisation in Music Therapy for Music Therapists as a Tool for Reworking Lived Experiences, Sharing Professional and Life Experiences.

Music therapist find challenging to create a musical space to share with their colleagues a non verbal experience to promote their psychophysical well-being. Provide a moment of improvisation is important for music therapists to explore how to share and process experiences at various levels through the use of the voice, body, musical instruments, and silence. 

Encouraging working in teams facilitate processing at various levels both internally and externally. Creating a safe environment where music therapists can use improvisation as tool to improve their ability to be able to express themself. 

This is the result of a team effort based on the experiences conducted by Jos de Backer while working on the Shaping Interpersonal Trust (SIT; Foubert, Gill, & De Backer, 2021) as a group of music therapists on professional training. Through the process of connection, pause and repair the interpersonal trust can be model to facilitate interactions with others. 
The goal of the workshop is to encourage this practice and enhancing it within an international academic context to offer and return reflective cues.

Sonja Aalbers, Anna-Eva Prick, & Vera Nyssen. Exploring Emotion Regulation and Synchronisation in Improvisational Music Therapy for Depression.

The workshop ‘Exploring emotion regulation and synchronisation in improvisational music therapy for depression’ introduces music therapists and music therapy researchers to an innovative programme aimed at addressing depression through improvisational music therapy. The programme is named: Emotion-regulating improvisational music therapy (EIMT).


Depression is a profound challenge, marked by deep sadness and diminished feelings of happiness. Music and music therapy, especially the sense of playing together, can bring lightness and openness for change. This workshop offers a fresh perspective on how improvisational music therapy can be used in the realm of mental health and research. The EIMT programme was thoroughly described based on theory and practice and evaluated using a multiple-case design with young adult students experiencing severe depressive symptoms. The students found the programme to be effective and feasible for improving their emotional regulation skills. They felt better, truly heard, and becoming more authentically themselves.


The EIMT programme spans ten sessions, integrating music therapeutic improvisation and verbal reflection as central elements for enhancing emotion regulation. A set of defined instruments is used, namely djembe, marimba, and cello. The Dutch research centre KenVaK and Zuyd University, in collaboration with NHL Stenden University and Open Universiteit are interested in the neurobiological underpinnings of improvisational music therapy. Participants in the workshop will explore the EIMT programme, focussing on emotion regulation, the Bruscia synchronisation technique and verbal reflection. Through a series of hands-on exercises, attendees will experience the programme’s key elements, learn to apply the synchronisation technique, and discover how to reflect on meaningful moments. The workshop aims to foster a dialogue among attendees, exchanging ideas on working mechanisms and elements. Participants will engage in discussions on the potential use of physical measurements, exploring possibilities for future research initiatives, contributing to the body of knowledge on the potential neurobiological underpinnings of improvisational music therapy.

Larissa Zoubareva, Heidi Ahonen, & Ludmyla Gerus. Improvisation as a Reflected Group GIM Experience.

The purpose of this presentation is to bring on awareness to a role of improvisation in the process of the GIM (The Guided Imagery and Music) experiences by reporting research findings. The main focus of this study was to investigate the benefits of using the BMGIM group intervention for adolescents with anxiety, stress, depression and correlation with scientifically measurable psychophysiological coherence state. Improvisation is a music-centred activity that has been used as a grounding and powering intervention. Drumming with the powerful image was a form of the musical improvisation. Data will be presented on the adolescents’ psychophysiological coherence state before and after improvisation.

Marzia Zingarelli, Mariagrazia Baroni, & Elide Scarlata. Casta Diva: An International Research on Italian Arias of Female Characters through Receptive Method and Resonance with Improvisation in Music Therapy Sessions.

The European Commission highlighted in the communication regarding the gender equality strategy for 2020-2025 that, until now, no member state has been able to achieve effective gender equality. The study of the female figure in the history of opera can thus be seen as an important opportunity for raising awareness on these issues.

The presentation will explain the project’s basic foundations, details and theory framework. The project has international relevance, because it involves two European conservatories and two European universities through students of the Master programs of Music Therapy as trainees in collaboration with doctoral students of the Universities in monitoring and research activities on the outcomes achieved.

 During the sessions, improvisation is proposed as a central moment for the elaboration of emerging material during a previous receptive music therapy project related to opera and Italian arias of female characters. Female figures had a significant role in Italian musical theater. Heroines (or anti-heroines) have been fundamental in Italian musical theater from the seventeenth century to today, embodying a feminine ideal often in contrast with the real condition of women.

The project  provides training and research actions that intend to expand the knowledge and skills of the students of the Master program of Music Therapy enrolled at the conservatory(s), offering them the opportunity to deepen the application of music therapy in support of women afferent to the centers/associations of the territory that deal with related issues, such as eating disorders, postpartum depression, gynecological oncology, well-being and improvement in the quality of life.

Demian Kogutek. Improvised Active Music Therapy Treatment: Methodology System in Neurological Rehabilitation.

Active approaches in music therapy have been generating interest in the field of rehabilitation science. This presentation starts by providing attendees with an overview of the methodological system for using Improvised Active Music Therapy (IAMT) treatment in neurological rehabilitation. In this methodological system, the musical content of IAMT sessions is transformed into digital music data in real time using Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). MIDI automatically displays the music played by the client and the Music Therapist in the recording software. Participants play on an electronic drum-set while accompanied by a Music Therapist on guitar or keyboard. The presentation continues by providing attendees with the findings of the feasibility of delivering IAMT sessions in measuring the impact of acquisition of rhythmic complexity levels on gait performance in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. In this single subject multiple baseline design, the study measured the ability of three right-handed participants to acquire greater density of syncopation. During baseline, the Music Therapist played rhythms with low-moderate density of syncopation. During treatment, the Music Therapist introduced rhythms with moderate-high density of syncopation. Results from visual analyses and Pearson’s correlations on the outcomes indicated conflicting and inconclusive outcomes. Despite this, evidence was found to support the overall value of IAMT sessions on gait performance. The study design, the intervention, and outcome measures were found to be feasible and could be scaled-up into a larger trial. The presentation finalizes by reporting asynchrony and number of notes and striking force measures of this feasibility study. 

Freya Dasseville. From Musical Fragments to Composition. The Use of Clinical Musical Improvisation as a Tool in Giving Meaning to Raw Undifferentiated Elements, Serving as a Fundamental Ingredient for Composition.

In this presentation, we explain how clinical musical improvisation can be used to unfold undifferentiated affects and how these can be transformed through compositional aspects into an accessible musical form. This is illustrated through case A, a 16-year-old adolescent in transition who was admitted to child and adolescent psychiatry with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and compulsive symptoms. During group music therapy sessions, we got to know A as a very curious, explorative, and energetic boy with a keen interest and intuitive aptitude to music. He differentiated himself from his peers through his extraordinary taste in music and his open, playful mindset in exploring every musical instrument throughout the room.


Initially, A performed in an extremely discordant, explosive, and often destructive approach in improvisation. He played right through his fellow group members. However, ambivalence quickly emerged within the improvisations: on one hand, he destructively sought confirmation in rejection, and on the other hand, A cautiously and receptively sought connection and being 'seen’. Throughout the therapeutic process, A experiences evolution and growth in both group and individual sessions, employing non-verbal musical improvisations in a discharging and connecting way. A's own musical compositions evolved from the musical improvisations that unfolded. These compositions serve multiple functions, providing self-containment and holding, as well as serving as a means to seek affirmation in his values, talents, and self-confidence.

Adriana De Serio & Adrian Korek. Improvisation in Music Therapy for the Theatre Art: Research, Training, Practice

Aims. This experiential research underlines the effectiveness of the preventive, educational and training goals of a Group-Musictherapy-Improvisation-Plan for the Theatre Art students (GrouMusImPThArt) to address psychological and behavioral characteristics that may be disabling for the actors, such as shyness, burn-out, resistance to taking on different roles on the stage and in the everyday life. The GrouMusImPThArt can contribute to allowing potential abilities to emerge, balancing introspection, intellectual and emotional skills and the autopoiesis for a self-development of the psychophysical health. 
Materials. Thirty students from University Theatre Faculty. Weekly sessions (150’) for two months; musictherapeutic improvisation by conventional-not conventional rhythmic-sonorous-musical instruments made of savage and foods. Protocols. Assessment by Indices by the Authors: Somatic Pattern, Patient-Environment-Music. Methods. Free-synchronized-structured bodily-rhythmic-sonorous-musical improvisation involving voice-canto, acting, dances, emotional swelling/culmination and then the slackening, rhythmic speech and singing drills focusing on the musical pitch to improve the intonation, the diction and the articulation and to lead up it to an increased intelligibility. Each student could be the group-leader telling a story to inspire the improvisation. 

Results. The students (non musicians) learned to play percussion instruments and performed a musical-theatre show acting, dancing, singing and playing rhythmic-sonorous-musical instruments. The students said they had improved kinetic-vocal and all the skills useful for acting activity and nourishment of the bodily-emotional balance. 
Conclusions. The GrouMusImPThArt makes use of specific musictherapy techniques useful for the actors. Within the GrouMusImPThArt the actors work out differentiations of sound pitch and dynamic gradation and the improvement of individual’s skills to catch the sound (near-far). The playful aspects included in the GrouMusImPThArt also allow the actors to achieve emotional contact and harmony within themselves and in the group. A free-empathic improvisation can depict the group mood. The GrouMusImPThArt also contributes to increasing trust, a sense of reciprocity, belonging and individual and social identity.

Viktor Kemény, Virág Hajdú, & Szabolcs Ajtony Dr. Bandi. “Nervous Blues”. Facilitating Flow Experiences through Improvisational Music Therapy as a Protective Factor against Music Performance Anxiety.

Playing music can be a source of great joy and fullfillment in one's life. It can put you into a state of optimal and even peak experiences and can make you feel connected to yourself and others. But often the performers has to face stage fright or even music performance anxiety while playing. This type of social anxiety specific to music performers can grow to an extent which can make it impossible for the musician to perform or find joy in their activities. But improvisational music therapy methods seemed to be effective in the past not just in the treatment of music performance anxiety but also in generating flow experiences.


The goal of our study is to on one hand explore the dynamics of these two very different emotional state which can appear during music playing and on the other to find out the effectiveness of a group counselling method which is based on improvisational music therapy in treating feelings of music performance anxiety. In our study we used the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) of interviews and questionnaires measuring flow-experiences, adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism, music performance anxiety and wellbeing before and after the group counselling sessions to measure the subjective experiences and attitudes of the participants (6f/1m all studying classical music) about playing music. The group counselling sessions focused on the exploration of their musical identities, negative experiences and creating a corrective experience using improvisational techniques. According to our current findings music is primarily a source of positive experiences and improvisational music can create a state of combined flow. Meanwhile a lack of support and judgemental attitudes from peers and authority figures can be a source of negative experiences which can develop into performance anxiety.

Leen Adam & Hannah Riedl. PhD Consortium: Vision and Future Actions. 

Three years ago, in October 2021, as part of the International Consortium of Music Therapy Research, a consortium for music therapy PhD students was founded in an aim to connect the next generation of music therapy researchers. Next to connecting in an informal way, the Consortium for Music Therapy PhD-students (CMTP) is organizing online seminars on relevant research topics, guided by questions and interests from the community. In the future, the goal is to keep connecting and growing the PhD network, as well as exchanging ideas in person at conferences. In this meeting, we invite all PhD students to gather and exchange ideas on future collaborations and possibilities of this PhD Consortium.

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