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Qualitative Inquiries in MusicTherapy Monograph Series


The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate meaning-making in clinical music improvisation with troubled adolescents. Participants were six youth from two partial hospitalization programs. These individuals, ranging in age from 12 to 17, had severe behavioral and emotional disturbances. Each participant was involved in approximately five improvisation sessions with the researcher. The adolescents were asked to create nonreferential and referential instrumental improvisations, both alone and with the researcher. After each improvisation, the participants and the researcher listened to and/or talked about the piece. Selected improvisations were then analyzed using Bruscia’s (1987) Improvisation Assessment Profiles (IAPs), in order to discern intramusical and intermusical relationships. Textual data from session transcripts and field notes were analyzed, and intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships were identified. Musical and textual data were compared, as were data for the participants and the researcher. While the manner in which the musical elements were organized to create meaningful improvisations was unique to each individual, tendencies did appear across cases with respect to rhythmic integration, tonal expression, timbre, and playing configuration. Analysis of the verbal meanings assigned to the improvisational products and processes also revealed commonalities, such as the perception that music evoked emotions and allowed for the expression of existing feeling states. A comparison of participant and researcher data revealed both divergent and analogous musical and verbal meaning-making tendencies. Conclusions and implications for clinical practice, education and training, and further study are presented.

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Barcelona Publishing



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