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Microanalysis in Music Therapy. Methods, Techniques and Applications for Clinicians, Researches, Educators and Students

br2009_104Wosch, Thomas & Wigram, Tony (2007). Microanalysis in Music Therapy. Methods, Techniques and Applications for Clinicians, Researches, Educators and Students.. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Pages: 328. Price: 22.99£.

The book Microanalysis in Music Therapy is the fourth title by Tony Wigram in a series that includes Improvisation, Songwriting and Receptive Methods in Music Therapy. In this publication Wigram, Professor of Music Therapy at the University of Aalborg, has collaborated with Thomas Wosch, Professor of Music Therapy at the University of Applied Sciences of Würzburg and Schweinfurt, in the editing of the book.

This book is a presentation of different models and methods for microanalysis in music therapy, developed by researchers from primarily Europe and Australia, with Wosch and Wigram being co-authors of some of the book’s models.

Wosch and Wigram (2007) present a working definition of microanalysis:

Microanalysis is a detailed method investigating microprocesses. Microprocesses are processes and changes/progressions within one session of music therapy. The amount of time can be one minute (moment) or five minutes (therapy event) of one session, one clinical improvisation (episode), or one complete session. To analyze process over time, several microanalyses can be undertaken to look at several events. (p.22)

Here the editors make it clear that it is a small, minuscule part of a music therapy course that is the basis of analysis. The object of microanalysis in the various models can be to focus on the client in music therapy, on the therapist, on the interaction between the two, on the music and on the voice/song. The models represent various client groups such as children and adults on the autism spectrum, children with physical or developmental disabilities, dementia sufferers and various psychiatric diagnoses. Other models do not have any particular client groups in mind.

In the opening chapter Wosch and Wigram introduce microanalysis in music therapy, then provide a theoretical framework, explaining the theoretical bases of the various models, which data and sources they have used, the material analyzed and the level of microanalysis. The final chapter provides an overview of the individual models, categorization of client groups, criteria for the analyses and their application in research and clinical practice, and the focus of the analyses. I recommend that readers start with the first and last chapters as an introduction to the models and methods presented in the rest of the book.

Microanalysis is divided into three parts: video microanalyses (7 chapters), music microanalyses (12 chapters) and text microanalyses (2 chapters). All the chapters follow the same structure, with the authors providing a short introduction to the individual method, explaining the underpinning theoretical framework for the model and the individual microanalysis method, presenting a case example and finally providing a summary. This structure makes it easy for the reader to navigate the book; you recognize the recurring rhythm and, after a couple of chapters, it becomes increasingly easy to compare the various models and methods. The case examples makes the models come alive and remove them from the research laboratory into the clinical practice.

However, I find it difficult to follow one of the contributed chapters, ‘The “AQR-Instrument” by Schumacher and Calvet. This chapter presents several scales, IQR, VQR and PEQR, without also giving a clear reference to their background and their application. This contribution ought to have undergone a good edit before it was accepted into otherwise eminently pedagogically structured book.

All chapters provide lists of References that are relevant, but do not take up more space than necessary. I sometimes suspect reference lists of providing the opportunity for the author to present his entire body of publications; this doesn’t seem to be the case with this book.

Several times the editors refer to a website that provides additional material- literature, audio-files, videos, examples and research data. However, Wosch and Wigram have forgotten to provide a direct link to the website. After spending some time at my computer I finally found it at www.jkp.com . This ought to have been included in the Table of Contents and the individual Reference lists.

It is worth noting that four of the contributors teach at the Faculty of Music Therapy at Aalborg University. Apart from Tony Wigram, Ulla Holck, Hanne Mette Ridder og Lars Ole Bonde are represented by a chapter each. Yet again this makes the music therapy community in Aalborg very visible on an international scale, and emphasizes the high productivity of the Faculty in terms of books, articles and contributed chapters to books like this one.

Hanne Mette Ridder points out that music therapy students and clinicians often start from scratch when they have to document their work. It will strengthen the value and the credibility of their work if they develop skills in using models that have already been tried out in practice, and the next generation of music therapy students and clinicians will develop these “flint-axe-like” tools of documentation into precise and useful instruments. This development is visible in the book itself, as several models build on Bruscia’s IAP.

All the models and methods in the book are research-based, and all the editors and chapter contributors are music therapy researchers. I was therefore curious to see if I, a practicing music therapist, would understand both the contents of the book and see the book’s relevance for readers other than the music therapy research community. Wosch and Wigram themselves describe the relevance and benefits of microanalyses for both researchers, music therapy students and clinicians, and emphasize that their target has been all three groups of readers. They have succeeded eminently. A few of the chapter contributors have even provided a “light” version of their model for us in clinical practice. I can sometimes point to the time factor as a defence for making microanalyses of e.g. videos filmed during my work. The book Microanalysis in Music therapy provides me with tools to try out various models, or parts of them. This can provide me with new angles, observations and analyses of music therapy, which I would otherwise not focus upon. In the end, this will result in better clinical effort which will benefit the most important person – the client. Therefore my first effort is to argument for the need for time enough to do microanalyses. Not at the level of research, but as a part of the clinical practise.

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