Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

Messages through the Music: Musical Dialogue as a Means of Communicative Contact/Messages Par la Musique : Dialogue Musical Comme Moyen De Communication

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

Messages through the Music: Musical Dialogue as a Means of Communicative Contact/Messages Par la Musique : Dialogue Musical Comme Moyen De Communication

Article excerpt

1. Preface

1. Preface

A boy with autism

Anxiously paces the room

His eyes betray a raw and naked fear

At first, the music is only an extra sound - it has not been filtered out or in

He touches the door, the wall, and the desk, in rapid succession

Door, wall, desk

Door, wall, desk

They become a touchstone trio that helps him arrive safely to the next moment

"Jonathan, it's okay," sings the therapist

"Jonathan, it's okay"

He pauses - what's that sound? Is she singing to me?

His pace slows and the ritual changes

Wall, desk, door

Wall, desk, door

Jonathan offers a sly glance to the therapist

He walks to the center of the room and stops pacing

He moves forward and backward, alternating heel to toe

1-2-3

1-2-3

In perfect rhythm to his song

And in that brief moment, a dialogue begins...

2. Introduction

A common thread weaves throughout clinical music therapy: communication through music establishes a vital bond not easily replicated through other means. Music not only engages the listener to respond, it can compel the listener to interact. Dialogue may be defined as encompassing all the ways we give and receive messages. Musical dialogue is further defined as a moment of authentic reciprocity within music. Upon entering into a musical dialogue, an implied and potent message is: "I hear you. You are important to me." The music therapy session is an invitation to dialogue with one another, In the space that is created through musical dialogue, the diagnosis slips away and individuality emerges. Although these moments of musical interchange may range in time from ephemeral to extended, both therapist and client have the potential to become equally invested in the relationship.

One of the most fascinating elements in clinical music therapy occurs when the client and therapist are in an active musical exchange, where the boundaries between the two are not distinctly polarized. For example, Amir (1996) examined the phenomena of significant experiences between the client and therapist. Although difficult to describe verbally, Amir listed these moments as occurring on multiple levels: interpersonal/intrapersonal, and external/interpersonal, and within four realms: physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual. Pavlicevic (1988) writes in a similar vein about critical momentsimprovisational moments that appear to have a striking significance. These moments inevitably led to discovery about the client, the therapist, the musical interaction between client and therapist, and the musical improvisation itself, It is important to identify and categorize moments of active dialogue between client and therapist, while also examining sessions for critical and meaningful moments.

Several questions emerge:

How can musical dialogue be defined and described?

Why is dialogue essential to an effective therapeutic process?

How do musical and verbal dialogues differ?

What are the tools for creating and fostering a musical dialogue?

What are the implications for musical dialogue in the development of the therapeutic relationship?

Each individual music therapy session is a process in and of itself. The focus of this research is not how a client traveled from point A to point B over a period of several sessions, but the process itself within each session, i.e., which techniques and interventions were utilized to dialogue and communicate with each child in the moment.

Communication is important within a music therapy environment because it addresses both verbal and non-verbal modes of expression. By drawing upon a child's repertoire of sounds, speech patterns and movements within a multisensory approach, music therapists aim to facilitate and develop communication. The early stages of language development are inherently musical, and since language is acquired through dynamic interactions with people and objects in the environment, musical interaction is a perfect fit for enhancing communication (Donne11 & Pringle, 2002). …

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