Technique of Improvising in Music Therapy -4

by - Dr. T V Sairam

In several music therapy settings, improvisation is found to be quite effective for those clients who need to develop spontaneity, creativity, and confidence, freedom of expression, communication, and interpersonal skills in their daily life. It is yet another story that these very qualities are badly needed for working on improvisation! Improvisation is recommended for a wide range of clients: from emotionally deranged to developmentally delayed children and from adults with psychiatric disorders. Improvising enables these clients to communicate and share feelings with others, while also helping them to organize their thoughts and ideas in a meaningful way.

There are also the following methods/techniques used by the music therapists who endeavour to address the needs of individuals or groups they work with. These include:
· Music and movement/dance
· Music facilitated discussion
· Music and relaxation techniques
· Song singing.

It goes without saying that each of these methods requires proper skills, experience and training on the part of a music therapist in order to use them effectively to achieve therapeutic outcomes The co-creative sessions between the therapist and the patient, aimed at activating the innate musicality, using a variety of standard and specialized instruments has become popular in recent times in all music therapy circles, more particularly in the West. Combining aesthetic sensibilities with ongoing analytical assessment, such improvisational music has helped patients to overcome their physical, emotional and cognitive barriers. Such improvisational, creative music is administered for helping disabled children, victims of accidents and trauma, individuals under psychiatric or geriatric care and self-referred adults seeking to overcome their emotional problems and stress. Known as Nordoff Robbins System, this approach has its growing popularity in U.S.A, U.K., Germany, Australia, Scotland and Japan

Improvised Singing

Singing improvisation is not something new. It is known from ancient times as an art form. In some parts of the world, improvised singing is a mixture of musical improvisation and improvisational theatre. In the Wales, centuries ago, such a form was in vogue. In an annual competition conducted there for poets and musicians, improvised singing was used. A style of music called penillion became popular. This was often improvised, and sung to a harp accompaniment. The singer here was obliged to follow the harp, which changed its tune to bring in so many variations, ad libitum. The vocalist was to struggle to keep time, and end precisely with the initiated strain. In Indian classical music, it is often the vocalist (who is the main performer ) in a concert, who breaks the ice to initiate the ‘dialogue’, which is taken up by the accompanying instruments.

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