Clinical Improvisation Techniques in Music Therapy: A Guide for Students, Clinicians and Educators provides a clear and systematic approach to understanding and applying improvisational techniques. It is inspired by the taxonomy of clinical improvisation techniques as described by Kenneth Bruscia in his book, Improvisational Models of Music Therapy. Based on years of their own experimenting with the teaching of improvisation, the authors have evolved a particular developmental sequence for introducing basic techniques of improvising and applying them through role-play exercises that have been sensitively designed to bring out one's innate musicality and one's empathic regard. Part One provides an introduction to the techniques. Part Two focuses on how to apply the techniques with clinical intent in order to meet the diverse needs of a client, individually or in the context of a group. This section also addresses the need to enrich one's own musicianship by providing musical resources, relevant references and guidelines for working with client's playing. This "hands-on" guide fulfills the need for a clear process-oriented approach to mastering clinical improvisation techniques, and in a style that can be understood not only by music therapy students, clinicians and educators but also by health care administrators and providers alike.
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Carroll, D. & Lefebvre, C. (2013). Clinical improvisation techniques in music therapy - A guide for students, clinicians and educators. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher Ltd.
Both Debbie Carroll and Claire Lefebvre are music therapy professors at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), where they have been educating and supervising students since 1985 and 1 986 respectively. This book was borne out of their work with students at UQÀM and an identified "need to provide a clear and systematic approach to teaching improvisational techniques to undergraduate music therapy students" (p.4). The authors acknowledge the book is based on the taxonomy of clinical improvisation techniques as described by Bruscia (1987), and go on to describe the approach they have developed for clinically applying these techniques.
There are just over 100 pages to this book and, with the appendices taking up the last quarter of the book; it is a relatively quick read. The book is divided into two parts. The layout is logical and easy to follow and the spiral binding makes it very user friendly.
Part One describes the taxonomy of clinical improvisation techniques, dividing these into two interconnected categories: musical techniques and verbal techniques. Each category starts with a prelude and summary list of the musical techniques, followed by a detailed description of each technique. The musical techniques have been grouped into five sub-categories and include general therapeutic goals and clinical contexts. The verbal techniques have been organised into two sub-categories, based on the music therapist taking on a more or less directive approach. From a clinician's point of view, there was very little in Part One which was new to me, and I therefore found it quite affirming to read. Further, reading this section was also a good exercise in reflective practice, as it drew out the 'why, when, what and how' music therapists do what they do. This is helpful not only for individual practitioner's practice, but also in helping to articulate these concepts to others.
Part Two focuses on applying the techniques from Part One. It is divided into four sections: expanding clinical and musical resources; role-play exercises; guidelines for working with the clients playing; and six role-play exercises with predetermined musical and clinical parameters. Whereas Part One breaks clinical improvisation down into its component parts, Part Two starts to put them back together and demonstrates how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In doing so, the reader begins to see how clinical musicianship can be developed. To make the best use of this section, it would be helpful to work through it with a tutor, colleague or willing volunteer, trying out and practising the various exercises and then of course reflecting on your experiences. Thinking back to when I trained as a music therapist, I believe I would have found this a very useful resource.
The book contains five Appendices, which outline the clinical techniques used in Improvisational Music Therapy (Bruscia, 1987) and the differences between Bruscia's groupings of those clinical techniques and the present authors; the connections among certain techniques; students' exploration of the potential therapeutic effects of intervals; scales and other useful musical structures; and three improvisational models of music therapy; Juliette Alvin's Free Improvisation; Paul Nordoff & Clive Robbins' Creative Music Therapy; and Mary Priestley's Analytical Music Therapy. These appendices make very interesting reading, particularly Appendix 3 which explores the potential therapeutic effects of intervals. . . . --Heather Fletcher: BA Creative Arts, Grad Dip MT/The New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy/2013
Clinical Improvisation Techniques in Music Therapy contains some valuable insights, ideas and approaches to teaching clinical improvisation techniques to trainees. The method crafted by the authors and then documented in the book is a conscious attempt to complement and extend the work of Bruscia and Nordoff & Robbins. The book is in two parts -- Part One: Musical Techniques (M) and Part Two: Verbal Techniques (V). . .
Reviewing this book as a UK music therapy trainer, I see this publication as perhaps the start of a necessary conversation about the need for rigour and process. This process has perhaps been established for longer in the UK and clinical improvisation techniques have been a key part of UK trainings for many years. Each course in the UK has its own approach and methods of teaching it - some similar to those in the book. Indeed, Dr Carroll trained at the Guildhall School, London in the mid¬1980s so this no doubt influences the techniques and process in the book. Whilst it is interesting and informative to read the techniques of international music therapy trainers, the most practical use of this book to educators in the UK would be to use it to refer to, draw inspiration from and prompt ideas rather than a standalone complete method in itself. It is less of a 'how-to' guide, and more of a 'this is how we do it' documentation. As the three improvisational models demonstrate, all perspectives, approaches and methods are necessary to the rich diverse nature of our profession, No one approach is definitive.
Clinical Improvisation Techniques in Music Therapy is a welcome addition to the important body of literature that music therapy needs to build in order to demonstrate itself as an essential treatment for those it helps. . . --Sarah Gail Brand, British Journal of Music Therapy, Volume 29, No. 1, 2015
Dr. Beer, in The Arts in Psychotherapy book review, offers 'intrigued by its potential application in the classroom. . . made the decision to use the book as a primary source for the course I teach on clinical improvisation. . . . The book offers a sensible, practical, and applicable approach to anyone, whether a clinician, student, or educator interested in developing his or her clinical improvisation skills.' --Dr. Laura E. Beer/The Arts in Psychotherapy
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