Twenty-first Century Developments

Focus on standardizing the education of music therapists and expanding evidence-based practices
New requirements in the National Association of Schools of Music (2003-2004)
Technology applied to music therapy
References


Focus on standardizing the education of music therapists and expanding evidence-based practices

A broader training for music therapists is becoming necessary, as the field expands to allow for the treatment of various neurological disorders, developmental, and age related conditions. It is now more than ever pertinent that music therapists be kept up to date with current research and that standardized training methods be upheld (Crowe & Rio, 2005).

As a part of the American Music Therapy Association’s Research Strategic Priority action plan as stated in 2005, there is a focus on promoting Evidence-Based Practice (EBP). Placing a large emphasis on the cause and effect relationship between treatment and outcome, it becomes easier to develop an action plan when given certain circumstances to consider. An official policy statement by the American Psychological Association states: “Evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP) is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences” (Abrams, 2005).

K. E. Wilbur created an integral model to categorize evidence into four epistemological domains of evidence: subjective, objective, inter-subjective, and inter-objective (Abrams, 2005).

(Abrams, 2005)

 

New requirements in the National Association of Schools of Music (2003-2004)

The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)  revised its handbook in 2003 to require that all music students understand how technology serves music. Specifically, the NASM handbook states that students “must acquire:”

1. A basic overview understanding of how technology serves the field of music as a whole.

2. Working knowledge of the technical developments applicable to their area of specialization.

(Crowe & Rio, 2005). 


Technology applied to music therapy

The twenty-first century has seen a great expansion in the technology of recording, composing, and learning involved with music.  Technological advances also are allowing for the development and improvement of treatments for disabled individuals. The technological advances of music are currently being incorporated into medical practice and research with music therapy.

Technology is rapidly advancing to allow for the invention of devices that can potentially revolutionize current practices. This is true of both the field of music and medicine. Listed below are some technological devices and practices that, while not all necessarily new to the twenty-first century, are becoming more and more relevant to the practice of music therapy, thus necessitating that music therapists gain an education in areas of technology (Crowe & Rio, 2005).

Electronic musical instruments
Adapted musical instruments
New recording technology
Computer applications
Medical technology
Assistive technology for the disabled
Technology based music/sound healing practices


Electronic musical instruments

MIDI Keyboard

Using electronic instruments allows for the client to learn more about technology while making music. The electronic instrument most often used in music therapy are keyboards in different forms. They can be connected to synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, and most notable, computers by means of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). MIDI capabilities allow for an individual to play something on the keyboard while the computer records it with musical notation. This allows for the music therapist to have a visual representation of the music created by the client (Crowe & Rio, 2005).


Adapted musical instruments

To allow for a wider range of disabled individuals to take part in music making, recent adaptations have been made. These include modifying handles on percussion instruments to be easier to grip, using Velcro fasteners on shakers, and clipping clips for attaching instruments onto wheelchairs. Stands have also been developed for wind instruments to set them at an appropriate level for the mouth of an individual who cannot use his or her hands. The “guitar barre” is another innovative aide, allowing for someone to play certain chords from an open tuning, which means the left hand is not needed (Crowe & Rio, 2005).




New recording technology

The first kind of recording technology that impacted music therapy was, of course, the phonograph, which increased the availability of recorded music. Music therapists recording music therapy sessions also allowed for advancements in the field. In research studies, experimenters can view and analyze the effects of music therapy by videotaping sessions  and observing the client’s behavior and response to the therapy. All-in-one electronic music workstations are another recent development. They include recording and editing equipment, sound modules, effects modules, a keyboard controller, and data storage (Crowe & Rio, 2005).


Computer applications

In their (1972) article, Parker and Graham first pointed out that music therapists weren’t taking full advantage of the information retrieval system that computers could provide for music therapists. “Scholars in the arts and humanities have made relatively little use of the storage and retrieval capacities of the computer and musicians have practically ignored the entire are until very recently,” (Parker & Grahm, 1972). To address this, music therapists have recently started utilizing programs like Finale, a program that allows the user to act as a composer and create musical notation, and Fractunes, a program which creates visual imagery in response to music played by the user.

The Continuous Response Digital Interface (CRDI) is especially helpful in gathering information for music therapy research

In the area of music therapy research, programs like the Continuous Response Digital Interface (CRDI) have become very helpful in measuring the client’s response to music therapy. Statistics are analyzed using programs like Statistical Program for the Social Sciences (SPSS) (Crowe & Rio, 2005).


Medical technology

Since music affects the body on a physiological level, the ability to use medical equipment to monitor changes in physiological health is important in monitoring the effectiveness of  the therapy. While measures such as heart rate, Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), respiration, and blood pressure have been utilized in the monitoring of reactions to music and music therapy, it was only recently that newer medical technologies started to be incorporated into the research. In biofeedback research, a machine measures physiological responses and uses the feedback to change how the individual’s body reacts. In this kind of research, music therapists are making use of computerized axial tomography (CAT scan), positron emission tomography (PET scan), magnetic response imagery (MRI), functional magnetic response imagery (fMRI), electroencephalogram (EEG), and most interestingly, electromyography (EMG). EMG is helpful in Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation research, as it measures activity in the muscles. It is utilized to train patients suffering from gait disturbances, such as stroke patients and Parkinson’s Disease patients (Crowe & Rio, 2005).

Electromyography (EMG) can measure how a patient’s muscles react to music

To learn more about music therapy in Parkinson’s Disease, click here: Music Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease


Assistive technology for the disabled

Technology has allowed for disabled individuals to function more independently in every day life. In terms of music therapy, assistive devices can provide control to the client by allowing them to use music equipment. For people with limited strength or range of motion, electric switches are particularly helpful. With electric switches, they can produce a multitude of different sounds, pitches, and timbres, through simple gestures. Programs like MidiSensor and MidiGesture allow for the client to control sounds through small arm movements or head nodding. MIDI programs have also been modified to allow for disabled users to compose music through spoken commands or eye scanning technology. Music therapists have developed apparatuses like biofeedback machines that allow for musical output to be affected by controlling a physiological response. One such device is the Wave Rider, which is used in combination with a MIDI program. For individuals who struggle with speech, the program Visi-Pitch can help them improve through an analysis of speech frequencies (Crowe & Rio, 2005).


Technology based music/sound healing practices

As music therapists are taking advantage of the technology available to them, they are researching various sound and healing practices to see if they are viable sources of music therapy. Some examples are Cymatics and ultra-sonics. In these treatments, tones that have certain vibratory wavelengths are used to help the body heal (Crowe & Rio).

Children receiving treatment through the Tomatis Method

Another device used in both sound healing and music therapy is the Electronic Ear. Developed by physician Dr. Alfred Tomatis, the Electronic Ear presents a sound or music in an amplified form to the client. As a part of the Tomatis method, the client is changed as a person through receptive listening. Children and adults with learning disabilities, depression, Autism, and attention deficit disorder can receive this treatment by going toone of the many Tomatis Centers in the world. Music therapists are employed at these centers to provide music therapy after the clients receive treatment from the Electronic Ear (Tomatis, 1991).

To learn more about the Tomatis Method, click here: www.tomatis.com

Lastly, a technological device known as the Somatron bed has proved to be an effective treatment for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, learning disabilities, hearing impairments, and hospitalized patients. The Somatron is either a table, chair, or mat that uses vibrotactile stimulation to soothe the patient’s body, calming them and reducing anxiety. Similarly, vibroacoustic therapy makes use of rhythmic music with low frequency sounds to relax the muscles of hyperactive children (Crowe & Rio, 2005).

To learn more about Somatron Vibroacoustic Therapy, click here: www.somatron.com

 

References

Abrams, B. (2010). Evidence-Based Music Therapy Practice: An Integral Understanding. Journal of Music Therapy, 47(4), 351-379.

Crowe, B. J., & Rio, R. (2005). Implications of Technology in Music Therapy Practice and Research for Music Therapy Education. Journal of Music Therapy, 41(4), 282-320.

Parker, O. G., & Graham, R. M. (1972). An information retrieval system for music therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 9, 147-155.

Tomatis, A. A. (1991). The Conscious Ear. Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Press Inc.

By: Claire Growney

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