The Use of Technology in Music Therapy

Hayley Graham: Final Project Proposal

Working Title: The Use of Technology in Music Therapy

As the use of technology in music continues to expand, its influence becomes very present in music therapy practice. Technology, in this sense, can involve a variety of distinct manifestations. As we have discussed in class, recorded music has altered the past emphasis on participatory music, instead often creating a distinction between the musician and the consumer. As music therapy is inherently participatory in nature, this use of recorded music has implications for how clients engage with and respond to music therapy interventions. I plan to investigate the difference in effectiveness between recorded and live, interactive music in music therapy sessions with various populations. Additionally, recent technological advancements have led to the development of a variety of apps and tools that can be used to create music. In some situations, these serve to augment traditional music experiences, while in others they may replace traditional acoustic instruments. In music therapy, this can be beneficial in that it may allow individuals who lack cognitive or motor skills to make music through a non-traditional medium. Therefore, the second area of focus for my research will be on the role of these apps and tools in the therapeutic effectiveness of music therapy. By considering both recorded music and technological music tools and their roles in music therapy effectiveness, I hope to merge the ideas discussed in class with my own future practice.

To begin my research, I will search online databases to gather information on this topic. I am already aware of several journal articles and podcasts within the music therapy community that have focused on technology in music therapy, and hope to expand this to a substantial base of sources which will inform my research. I will compile these sources into a bibliography, then read each of them, taking note of common themes and trends that emerge. I will then write a review of literature synthesizing the information that I have found, including current practice and emerging trends, and ending with recommendations for future directions in both research and clinical practice in music therapy. My final product for this course will be a research paper on this topic, and my final presentation to the class will be a PowerPoint presentation illustrating my findings. If possible, I would also like to demonstrate some of the apps that are used in music therapy for the class to show the capabilities that they possess.


Clements-Cortès, A. (2013). High-Tech therapy: Music technology in music therapy. Canadian Music Educator / Musicien Educateur Au Canada, 54(4), 37-39.

This article looks at several types of technology that can be used in music therapy, including computer-assisted devices, specialized input and switch activated devices, recording technology, music software applications, and music video games. This provides a brief overview of what was being used at the time of publication. It will inform my research by providing a background of ways in which technology is implemented in music therapy sessions with a variety of populations and to address a number of goals. I was also intrigued that it mentioned music video games, directly mentioning Rock Band and Guitar Hero as beneficial for motor skills, coordination, and other gains that can be viewed therapeutically.

Crowe, B., & Rio, R. (2004). Implications of technology in music therapy practice and research for music therapy education: A review of literature. Journal of Music Therapy, 41(4), 282-320.

This resource is a literature review of research regarding the use of technology in music therapy. The authors investigate how technology is utilized in various settings, and what educational needs exist. They also divide technology into a number of categories, including adapted musical instruments, recording technology, electric/electronic musical instruments, computer applications, medical technology, assistive technology for the disabled, and technology-based music/sound healing practice. The first thing this led me to realize is that technology in music therapy may be a more broad topic than I had previously thought and can include a number of areas I hadn’t previously considered, such as medical technology. This resource will provide valuable information about technology’s role in music therapy, and may also assist me with defining key terms and distinctions I will make in the parameters of my paper/presentation.

Hahna, N. D., Hadley, S., Miller, V. H., & Bonaventura, M. (2012). Music technology usage in music therapy: A survey of practice. Arts In Psychotherapy, 39(5), 456-464.

This article explains the findings of a survey distributed to music therapists in the United States, as well as a few in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The results indicate that 71% of music therapists surveyed utilize technology in their practice. Additionally, men are more likely than women to use technology, and those under the age of 30 use technology more than those over the age of 65. Most of these individuals are self-taught, indicating a need for increased formal training in this area. While six years later, this points to many of the same trends noted by Magee (2006). I hope to look at potential changes over time, as well as what specific deficits in education individuals would like to see rectified.

Knight, A., & Sciarabba, A. (2016). Evaluating electronic music technology resources for music therapy. Arts In Psychotherapy, 498-9.

This is actually a review of a book titled “Evaluating Electronic Music Technology Resources for Music Therapy.” I hope to be able to access the book itself by the time I present my information, but was not able to do so by the time of this annotated bibliography. According to the review, the book provides valuable information for both students and faculty in music therapy. Electronic music technology is divided into four categories for analysis, including stand-alone products, computer software, electronic keyboards, and tablet computer applications. I hope to use this information to gain an understanding of what technology is available and how it may be used in music therapy sessions.

Magee, W. L. (2006). Electronic technologies in clinical music therapy: A survey of practice and attitudes. Technology & Disability, 18(3), 139-146.

This article discusses information gathered from surveying music therapists across the UK regarding the use of technology in their practice. Findings indicate that the primary reason people do not incorporate technological tools is that they have not received training in how to do so in a manner that will address client needs. This resource will inform my research by providing a description of what was going on in this area about a decade ago. I hope to utilize this is a starting point to then track what has been done in the past ten years to increase training in this area, if anything.

Paul, S. & Ramsey, D. (2000). Music therapy in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 47, 111-118.

This article reviews the use of music therapy with a variety of populations, and includes a section entitled “Specialized Music-Making Devices for Therapy and Fun.” The authors discuss the use of several different technologies, including Sound Beam, which uses any movement in space to create music, as well as Wave Rider, which captures EEG, ECG, and muscle contraction information from the individual’s skin and converts this to MIDI. These specific technologies are interesting in that they allow individuals to be involved in musicking who have little to no physical capabilities. Thus, this will inform my research by investigating the concept of accessibility of creative experiences for those who lack skills often perceived as prerequisite. The use of technologies such as these could expand the population who can actively engage in music therapy.

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