Synthesis Sunday - Chapter Seven - Meaning in Relationship

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I try to synthesize a chapter per week of a music therapy textbook. I will do this by the end of today, but it will be a bit delayed. Chapter seven is starting off to be very interesting, and I want to make sure that I do it full justice. I'll spend time in between church services this morning reading and thinking. There should be a synthesis later this afternoon.

UPDATED AFTER I ACTUALLY DID WHAT I SAID I WOULD DO!

Chapter seven of Music therapy in context: Music, meaning and relationship is entitled, "Meaning in relationship: The music between. In this chapter, Mercedes Pavlicevic continues the thoughts that she started in Chapter six but goes more in depth about what is happening in music therapy treatment rather than just what happens in music improvisation from a music psychology aspect. She makes a case for music therapy as a unique interpersonal experience that is more than what pathology the client brings to the session.

The pages between 92 and 97 offered me many things to think about. 

"Music therapy improvisation can generate a context which is not only intermusical, but interpersonal" (p. 92). The therapist shapes music around what the client brings, regardless of the musical skill of the client. All sounds can and often are considered musical. If a client is screaming (as my friend last Wednesday was), the music therapist can match the pitches and the volume and the intensity of the sound to reflect what the client is bringing to the music. Through interacting with one another in the music therapy environment, the therapist and the client become an entity of music.

"Aldridge (1993a) reminds us that music therapy cannot restrict itself to the medical axis of health-illness" (p. 93). The point of this train of thought was to illustrate that participation in music therapy improvisation often allows the client's focus to change from "diagnosis" to "interaction." How often do you see a comment that "music therapy made her laugh again" or "When he was in music therapy, he was acting like a boy, not like a boy in a wheelchair?" "The creative arts potentiate us: they elicit the tension between who we are and how we might be, and in music therapy this happens in an interpersonal context" (p. 93). Without that interpersonal interaction, therapy does not occur.

On pages 95 & 96, Pavlicevic laid out a model of levels of engagement based on the writings of Humphrey in 1992. I found this model to be very interesting, and I translated it into a graphic representation of the continuum discussed by Humphrey and Pavlicevic. Here it is...
I will probably take a break from this next week as I will not really be in a position to do my reading, but I think I've found quite a bit to think about in the most recent chapter.

Thank you, Mercedes Pavlicevic, for writing a text that continually challenges and simultaneously supports things that I think and believe about music, therapy, and me!



Pavlicevic, M. (1997). Music therapy in context: Music, meaning and relationship. London: Jessica Kingsley.

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