Episode 226: #MusicTherapy #JournalClub JMT 52(4)

It’s time for another edition of Music Therapy Journal Club to discuss the research published in the Journal of Music Therapy Winter 2015 edition (volume 52 number 4). Join us as Dr. Meganne Masko and I talk about the research articles and how we apply the research to our clinical practice or in the classroom.

This special issue on Arts Based Research (ABR) proved to be a challenge for me. I had a hard time understanding what ABR is and what its purpose is. After talking with Jennifer Townsend and MingYuan Low (thank you for answering my questions!), and re-reading some of the articles in this JMT, I feel like I have a somewhat better understanding of ABR.

For many of us, arts help to express a feeling or explain an experience that we have difficulty putting into words. Sometimes, after I listen to or write or perform a song, or even draw a picture, I can better explain verbally what my experience or feeling is. Perhaps ABR does this for research and data.

Edwards, J. (2015). Getting messy: Playing, and engaging the creative, within research inquiry. Journal of Music Therapy, 52(4), 437-440.

Edwards introduces this issue with her editorial that explains that ABR is typically used in qualitative research and involves using music, movement, storytelling, poetry, art, play, and other arts to collect, describe, and analyze data and present results. She encourages us to think about what the arts can offer that other research processes cannot, and how the arts can be integrated into research. She also asks, “What might happen when [the arts] find and establish their place more strongly within healthcare research?” She invites readers to consider how ABR might support and enrich current practice.

Ledger, A. & McCaffrey, T. (2015). Performative, arts-based, or arts-informed? Reflections on the development of arts-based research in music therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 52(4), 441-456.

This article reviewed arts-based research literature in music therapy and offered four questions for researchers who are developing arts-based research. The introduction described how ABR has been used in MT and stated that it is primarily used by music therapists practicing in music-centered, community oriented, or recovery oriented approaches. I had to have a dictionary handy as I read this article to look up some of the vocabulary I haven’t used since grad school. My take-away from this article is to think differently. Plus it will assist me in thinking critically about ABR articles I might read in the future.

Kenny, C. (2015). Performing theory: Playing in the music therapy discourse. Journal of Music Therapy, 52(4), 457-486.

In the abstract, Kenny explains that, “performative writing is an art form that seeks to enliven our discourse by including the senses as a primary source of information processing.” In the editorial, Edwards cautions, “Readers who are not familiar with reading philosophy, or have not encountered postmodern concepts in their research to date, are encouraged to bring their curiosity and an open mind to their approach to the paper.” I attempted to keep my mind open, but I have a hard time understanding this as research or belonging in a research journal. I found her dialogues interesting, especially when paired with listening to the music she suggests (when it was available on YouTube). I definitely expanded my thoughts about music therapy and music therapy theory as I read her paper. However, the paper seemed to be a self-reflection and a response to what other people have written or said about her Field of Play. As far as applying it to my work, it helps me to think about music therapy and what that means to me.

Gilberson, S. (2015). In visible hands: The matter and making of music therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 52(4), 487-514.

Another challenging read, this article used hand casting and interviews in qualitative research on understanding music therapists’ experiences. This one was written in a way that is more familiar, with a description of the participants and the method, plus a discussion section. It seems that holding the hand position while answering the questions about a specific experience in a session helped the participants to recall details of the particular moment more clearly. The author organized the comments into themes, which I’m more familiar with in qualitative research. My take away from this one is that perhaps creating art might help me process some of my sessions in a deeper way. It also might be a good method to use in supervision.

McCaffrey, T. & Edwards, J. (2015). Meeting art with art: Arts-based methods enhance researcher reflexivity in research with mental health service users. Journal of Music Therapy, 52(4), 515-532.

This article offered a rationale for ABR. I was disappointed that the song sample link did not work. The article explained reasons for ABR and used an example to illustrate the rationale. I can see how art might help illuminate or create meaning. The main value of this article, to me, is to help me understand ABR so that I can read ABR literature more critically.