Clinical Improvisation in Music Therapy
1. Catalog Entry
Clinical Improvisation in Music Therapy
Credit hours (3)
Prerequisite: Graduate Level Standing in the MS in Music with a concentration in music therapy program or by permission of instructor
This course is being designed to meet the Advanced Competencies for music therapists as outlined by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Students will actively participate in the development of and implementation of techniques and strategies for clinical improvisation as it relates to clients with diverse backgrounds and clinical needs. Topics addressed will include theories of improvisation, cultural competence within the therapeutic relationship, and music skills and techniques for the design and implementation of clinically based improvisation experiences on both pitched and non-pitched instruments as well as voice.
2. Detailed Description of Course
Topics addressed will include the use of clinical improvisation as it relates to different theoretical and treatment orientations in music therapy, the implications for improvisation in the assessment, treatment and evaluation of clients, an understanding of the contraindications of this approach for clients with diverse diagnoses and the ability to understand and respond to potential physical and psychological risks to client health and safety, the impact of clinical improvisation on the dynamics and process of therapy, the utilization of both verbal and nonverbal skills within a music therapy improvisation context, and the application of creative processes within music therapy. This course will also focus on the following music-based skills: providing spontaneous musical support for client improvisations, the ability to improvise in a variety of musical styles, and the utilization of a wide variety of improvisatory techniques for therapeutic purposes on pitched and non-pitched instruments as well as voice.
3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course
This will be a fully experiential lab based class that will include student development of materials, authentic participation in student driven improvisation experiences, cooperative learning through dyads and small group experiences, and self-reflection and evaluation through reflexive journal writing and evaluation of video and or audio recordings of improvisation experiences.
4. Goals and Objectives of the Course
At the end of this course, students should be able to:
1) Articulate and demonstrate how clinical improvisation can be implemented using different
theories and orientations to clinical practice.
2) Articulate and demonstrate how clinical improvisation can be used for assessment, treatment,
and evaluation of clients with diverse clinical needs.
3) Understand the contraindications for improvisation and be able to identify if a client is
having an adverse reaction during a session and how to address this in a clinically safe
4) Demonstrate verbal and non-verbal techniques for engaging with clients during clinical
5) Music skills on pitched and non-pitched instruments and voice to facilitate clinical
improvisation with clients from diverse backgrounds.
6) Display culture competence in the design and implementation of improvisation experiences.
5. Assessment Measures
Student learning outcomes will be assessed through a variety of methodologies. Within the course, learning may be assessed through some or all of the following:
1) Written assignments (both inside and outside of class) to include reflexive journals and
analyses of improvisation exercises related to course content, the review of current
literature and/or class discussion.
2) Active participation in class discussions and laboratory playing experiences.
3) The design and implementation of experiential exercises within different clinical contexts
4) Creation of audio or video recordings of improvisations for review and analysis.
6. Other Course Information
Readings will be derived from the major journals in music therapy as well as selections from texts in the discipline. There are no additional resources required for this course.
Review and Approval
May 11, 2015