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Improvising Music as a Technique in Music Therapy -1

by - Dr. T V Sairam

Improvisation is the practice of acting and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of ones immediate environment .musical improvisation involves the act of composing immediately before or even during the performance. Improvisation usually occurs in music either in individual rendition or in a duet, or in a group.

Improvisation is also referred to as ‘extemporization’, since improvisation in music is the practice of creating music ex tempore, in the very moment it is sung or played to the stimulus of one’s immediate environment.

Improvisation can take place as a solo performance, or interdependently in ensemble with other players.

Music improvisation and music composing are both creative methods in music therapy. The former is achieved extemporaneously while the later is not. Further, the improviser produces his/her own music, while the composer often relies upon a performer or an orchestra to execute his or her ideas

For a music therapist, improvisation is a process whereby client and therapist relate to each other as either of them freely improvises a musical piece extemporaneously. The term musical form refers to two related concepts: the type of composition (for example, a musical work can have the form of a symphony, a concerto, or other generic type -- see Multi-movement forms below) the structure of a particular piece (for example, a piece can be written in... .The client may use any musical (e.g., voice, instrument such as key-board or drums or body sound) or nonmusical (of images, titles, stories and the like.)medium within his or her capabilities.. As Improvisation is a creative process, it can help the client to explore aspects of self, in relation to others, in a positive way. Using musical improvisation in a therapeutic setting can also result in enhancement of the client’s confidence levels to cope with the problems faced by him. Improvising is advised when one wants to explore experiences of structure as well as freedom.

Improvisation, according to psychologists, can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or new symbols. It also results in new ways to sing or play and hence musical Improvisation is considered an important aspect of music training.

Philosophically speaking, improvisation focuses on bringing one's personal awareness "into the moment," and on developing a profound understanding for the action one is doing (say, singing or playing an instrument). This fusion of "awareness" and "understanding" is known to bring the practitioner to the point where he or she can act with a range of options that best suit the situation, even if he or she has never experienced a similar situation previously.

In music therapy settings, the clients/patients are encouraged to write songs and sing for a simple melodic structure played to them. This exercise is known to fuel creative approach in client’s minds. People with mental problems are often encouraged to do these exercises. In addition to singing, aspects of body movements (dance), comedy and showmanship are also encouraged in such sessions. These sessions are found to give vent for those who suffer from emotional suppression in life.

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Dr T V Sairam, A serving bureaucrat and a writer, is from F/48B, Hari Nagar New Delhi 110064. For any doubts you can contact him at - tvsairam @ gmail. com