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 Fall 2010: Features 



Feature Story

Music Therapy Research

The music therapy program at Slippery Rock University has been active in various forms of research this year, including both qualitative and quantitative inquiry. Students taking an upper-level music therapy course, Psychology of Music, developed research proposals, IRB applications, and study designs as part of this course.  Many of the students also conducted these studies and/or presented their findings at the 2010 Symposium for Student Research. These students included Allison Crumling, Jami Kleinert, and Corinne Woolley. Students taking Psychology of Music simultaneously learned about forms of research while also conducting faculty-supervised and IRB-approved research as a means for experiential learning. The research designs created during this course included ethnographic research on the culture of Haiti, descriptive research on adults with autism, musical preparation of students, the use of music during leisure-time, and the preparation of music educators for working with diverse learners (i.e., children with special needs). Some music therapy students were interested in developing quantitative research designs to determine the efficacy and evidence-base for music therapy with a variety of clinical populations. Since these designs would take more than a semester to implement, the students conducted extensive literature reviews on their topic of interest and developed a double-blind research design that they hope to be able to implement during their 6-month internship in music therapy and/or once they graduate.

The music therapy faculty, Dr. Susan Hadley and Ms. Nicole Hahna, have been working collaboratively with two music therapy students, Vern Miller and Michelle Bonaventura, on a grant-funded research project examining the use of technology in music therapy practice. This research project is examining how music therapists in the field are currently using music technology by replicating a study previously conducted by Dr. Wendy Magee. Additionally, the faculty and students collaborating for this study are exploring the use of technology in music therapy with the hopes of creating a handbook that can assist students and music therapists that are working with persons with various developmental disabilities.

In response to the recent earthquake in Haiti, Cayla Catino decided to conduct a qualitative research project on the music and culture of Haiti. In conducting her literature review, she found that people from Haiti have used the arts as a means for coping with oppression and trauma for centuries. She decided to create an ethnographic-based performance to showcase the art, music, dance, and poetry of Haiti as well as a means for raising awareness for the needs of Haitian people as a result of the earthquake. This Benefit Concert, The HeARTbeat of Haiti, raised over $500 and involved collaborations from the art, dance, and music departments.

Allison Crumling, a senior music therapy major, decided to study the use of leisure time for music majors and non-music majors. She was specifically interested in how music majors, as compared to non-music majors, used their leisure time. She conducted a survey, using a randomized convenience sample (N = 58) of SRU students, and found differences in both how music majors and non-music majors used recreational music and the duration of time each of the subgroups listened to music during their leisure time.

Mary Feagin, a post-bachelorette music therapy student, conducted a study on music therapists' use of MT interventions for adults with autism. She surveyed board certified music therapists (N = 44) that worked with adult clients diagnosed with autism to determine effective music therapy interventions based upon the participants' responses. A majority of participants reported that improvisation was an effective intervention, followed by movement-to-music. The participants in her study reported the following outcomes as a result of music therapy: less agitation; greater expressive language skills; and more appropriate interactions with others.

Angela Junker, a senior music therapy student, conducted a survey to determine the familiarity SRU's music therapy students had with repertoire used by area music therapists employed at UPMC. Using a convenience sample of 24 participants, Angela found that 92% of the participants were familiar with songs such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", "If You're Happy and You Know It", and "Old MacDonald." None of the participants, however, were familiar with songs such as "Ship in the Harbor," "End of the Line," "True Religion," or "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night." The findings of her study have assisted the music therapy faculty and students in better preparing students, in terms of repertoire, for their clinical placements and internships.

Jami Kleinert, a music education student, conducted descriptive research on music educators' preparedness for working with diverse learners and presented her research at the 2010 Symposium for Student Research. 

Her survey of music educators, using Survey Monkey, found that all of the participants she contacted had worked with or were currently working with diverse learners. Forty-four percent of the participants reported that they found their coursework to be "somewhat effective" in preparing them for working with diverse learners and 67% of participants reported that the coursework they took did not prepare them for working with IEP teams/plans. Jami concluded that the current coursework music educators she surveyed take did not fully prepare them for working intensely with diverse learners and for collaborating with IEP teams. She recommended additional in-class experience to better prepare music educators.

Another SRU MT student who presented at the 2010 Symposium on Student Research was Corinne Woolley. Corinne presented on a quantitative study design she developed with Dr. Shuttleworth, the former Director of Music Therapy. She developed a study designed to measure the efficacy of receptive music therapy interventions on ameliorating pain, reducing the intake of pain medications, and stabilizing vital signs for hospice patients. As this was an in-depth proposal, Corinne did not conduct the study but hopes to do so during her internship and/or while working as a music therapist in the field.

Vern Miller, pictured left with Corinne Wooley, is active in music therapy research. He graduated from the SRU MT Program in August 2010, and presented on research during his time at SRU. Vern's most recent presentation was called "Practical applications of computer and MIDI technologies for people with physical and cognitive disabilities" at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American Music Therapy Association Conference. His presentation demonstrated how to incorporate various computer and MIDI technologies in music therapy sessions. Practical examples from sessions with an Individual with Rett's Syndrome were referenced. Participants received information on the equipment needed, as well as the typical costs, to use this technology.

In addition to his presentation last semester, Vern is also presenting at Passages in November on the music therapy work he did as an intern at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. 

This presentation documents how a music therapy intern was given the opportunity to share 6 music therapy sessions with an adolescent girl living with cancer. The sessions took place at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. This presentation demonstrates how a music-centered approach was used in these sessions. Through musical interactions the patient and therapist were able to communicate thoughts and feelings. The patient was able to express and confront thoughts about her illness to the therapist and her mother through songs and conversations. The patient was also able to enjoy relief from the stress and worries of her hospital stay during her therapy sessions. An explanation of the thought process of the therapist as well as video examples of sessions will be shared.  

Music Therapy Faculty Research, Publications, & Presentations

The music therapy faculty have also been busy publishing and presenting on their research.  Dr. Hadley has finished editing the latest Qualitative Inquiries in Music Therapy series.  The most recent volume of Qualitative Inquiries in Music Therapy included two studies using modified grounded theory analyses: the first examining focus group interviews conducted with grieving adolescents receiving music therapy in a school setting; and the second exploring the experiences of music therapists working with adults experiencing pain. The third study utilizes a phenomenologically informed naturalistic inquiry to examine the clinical-musical responses of Nordoff-Robbins music therapists while improvising with clients in order to examine what was going on in the therapist’s consciousness moment-to-moment. The final two studies in this volume also utilize naturalistic inquiry as the methodological approach: the penultimate examining the relationship between lyrics and music in improvised songs that were created in the context of Nordoff-Robbins music therapy sessions with a woman who sought out music therapy as a result of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; the last exploring the first Nordoff-Robbins music therapy sessions that were provided for a parent-child dyad in which the parent was an active participant. 

Hadley, S. (Ed.). (2010). Qualitative Inquiries in Music Therapy: A Monograph Series, Vol. 5. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.

In addition to this publication, Dr. Hadley has been presenting with her colleague Nicole Hahna on disability studies, critical race theory, feminist theory, and critical pedagogy in terms of their implications for music therapy education and clinical practice. They presented once in the spring and will be presenting twice this fall for this 5-hour continuing education session.  

Hadley, S., & Hahna, N. D. (2010, November 18). Unveiling sites of privilege: Expanding the therapist's self-awareness. Conference Presentation (5-hour CMTE) at the American Music Therapy Association Conference, Cleveland, OH.

Hadley, S., & Hahna, N. D. (2010, November 12). Unveiling sites of privilege: Expanding the therapist's self-awareness. Conference Presentation (6-hour continuing education training) at the Expressive Therapies Summit, Times Square, New York.

Hadley, S., & Hahna, N. D. (2010, March 25). Unveiling sites of privilege: Expanding the therapist's self-awareness. Conference Presentation (5-hour CMTE) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American Music Therapy Association Conference, Pittsburgh, PA.

Nicole Hahna has also been presenting on her own research. In spring 2010, she and her colleague presented on the use of feminist pedagogy in music therapy education at the MAR-AMTA Conference.  This study surveyed 188 music therapy educators regarding their views and use of feminist pedagogy and feminist music therapy. The purpose of this study was two-fold: (a) to determine how many music therapy educators used feminist pedagogy and (b) to determine if there was a relationship between the use of feminist pedagogy and academic rank of the participants. Seventy-two participants responded to this study, with 69 participants included for data analysis. Stake and Hoffman's (2000) feminist pedagogy survey was adapted for this study, examining four subscales of feminist pedagogy: (a) participatory learning, (b) validation of personal experience/development of confidence, (c) political/social activism, and (d) critical thinking/open-mindedness. The results revealed that 46% (n = 32) of participants identified as feminist music therapists and 67% (n = 46) of participants identified as using feminist pedagogy. 

Results of a mixed ANOVA revealed a statistically significant difference within the four survey subscales (p < .0001), no significant difference (p = .32) for academic rank, and no significant interaction (p = .08) of academic rank the four survey subscales. A Tukey post hoc analysis of the data indicated that the survey subscale measuring political activism (p < .0001) was significantly lower than the other three survey subscales. In addition, a qualitative analysis on open-ended responses is also included.