Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Research Publications

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    The development of a decision matrix to guide and support the provision of effective arts programs in schools
    McFerran, KS ; Crooke, AHD ; Steele, M ; McPherson, G ; Hattie, J (Elsevier BV, 2022-01-01)
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    The importance of passionate individuals for navigating school arts provision in 19 Australian schools
    McFerran, KS ; Crooke, AHD ; Steele, M ; Hattie, J ; McPherson, GE (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2021-10-31)
    Arts programs are increasingly recognized for their role in promoting student development and cohesive school communities. Yet, most Australian schools are left to navigate a landscape characterized by shifting policy goals and external providers of diverse quality and intent. Drawing on interviews with 27 stakeholders from 19 Catholic primary schools in Melbourne, Australia, we explored key approaches to arts provision in this context, and conditions that hinder and support it. Approaches varied markedly, from school-wide programs embedded across the curriculum, to one-off incursions. Conditions consistently affecting provision ranged from leadership support to a community’s view of the arts. Programs regularly relied on individuals passionate about arts to go beyond their paid roles, yet this frequently jeopardized sustainability. Overall, the approaches identified, and conditions affecting their sustainability, reveal a lack of value for school arts at policy and administration levels. This lack of value is not demonstrated in the provision of other traditional school activities like math or literacy, which begs consideration by policymakers and school administrators.
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    Structure, agency and community: Using online music gatherings to support social inclusion for people with disabilities in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic
    McFerran, K ; Skinner, A ; Hall, T ; Thompson, G (GRIEG ACADEMY, 2022-01-13)
    Introduction: In the wake of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns in the southern states of Australia, many community music and music therapy projects shifted to an online format. This paper discusses the formation and creation of four online music groups aimed at people with disability, including two groups for children and two for adults. The aim of the study was to explore the use of online technologies to support social inclusion and wellbeing when participants were physically isolated. Method: This study positioned group participants as co-researchers to recognize the expertise many people with disability hold from being housebound or socially isolated. We adopted an action research framework in which participants provided ongoing reflections on the use of technology, access, musical foci and social interaction to iteratively develop the sessions through cycles of reflexive action. These data were triangulated with data collected through participant observation and individual interviews. Results: The structured format of the sessions created online spaces for people with different disability, age and gender identities to explore their creativity together. Far from limiting participants’ autonomy and safety, the structured setting promoted their agency in decision-making and shaping the groups to meet their needs. Discussion: Many participants interacted with the group or adapted to the online experiences in ways which the authors had not anticipated. While we were expecting our cohort to have expertise with social isolation, we found that they also had high levels of expertise as passionate musicians, which they used to frame the activities of the online gatherings.
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    The Challenges of Using Self-Report Measures with People with Severe Mental Illness: Four Participants' Experiences of the Research Process
    Bibb, J ; McFerran, KS (SPRINGER, 2017-08-01)
    This study aimed to explore four mental health consumers' experiences of completing self-report outcome measures in a research project. Participants were recruited from a community mental health organisation in Melbourne and were interviewed upon completion of a mixed methods research study where they were asked to complete a series of self-report outcome measures. Descriptive phenomenological micro-analysis was used to analyse interview data and is presented along with the researchers' observations during the data collection process. Results revealed that participants found the outcome measures cognitively challenging and the language used in the measures did not support the empowering intentions of mental health recovery. The authors suggest that the value of completing surveys for people with severe mental illness needs to be carefully considered so that the research process does not diminish other benefits of participation.
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    Report on the Current State of Practice and Training of Music Therapists Working With Adolescents
    McFerran, KS ; Fedrigo, G ; Wölfl, A (Universtity of Bergen Library, 2021-06-29)
    The practice of music therapy with adolescents is growing around the globe and there is increased recognition that young people have particular needs. In this report, we share information received from 247 music therapists about training about and practice with adolescents that was collected in 2016–2017. The music therapists were from 25 countries and had the option of answering questions in three languages—English (n = 114), German (n = 97) and Italian (n = 36). The most common workplaces were hospitals and schools with young people who have disabilities and mental health challenges. Answers also suggest that employment patterns in the field are slightly different to other colleagues who work with similar adolescents, and although ongoing work is available, the number of hours are not high overall. The information gathered provides a picture of how university programs around the globe emphasise the importance of emotional and social needs of adolescents, and the value of developmental and humanistic approaches to practice in a range of contexts. There was less reference to contemporary theories or practices and more emphasis on traditional practices that are similar to those used with adults. This suggests that the field may still be evolving in relation to adolescent approaches to practice, and the time for rebellion against dominant traditions of practice and theorising may be still to come. In the meantime, there is remarkable consistency across the countries surveyed and solid foundations have been laid for competent music therapy practice with young people.
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    Relational Processes of Critical Thinking
    Hadley, S ; McFerran, KS ; Stige, B (Universtity of Bergen Library, 2020-02-26)
    Welcome to the March 2020 edition of Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Once again, we are proud of the collection of research and practice articles being launched in this edition. They represent a diversity of practices around the globe, as well as foci on research, reports, interviews, and more.
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    Current Practices and Considerations for International Development Music Therapy: A World Federation of Music Therapy Scoping Project
    Bolger, LE ; McFerran, KS (Universtity of Bergen Library, 2020-02-25)
    The World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT) Research and Ethics Commission conducted a scoping project to gather information about music therapy practices in international development contexts.  Seventeen music therapists with experience in international development projects (out of 55 approached) responded to 14 questions about their work. Their responses indicated that work is generally short-medium term project work, often with follow up visits or online contact when possible to support sustainability. Work is commonly in the areas of disability or with refugees/displaced persons and often has a strong skills-sharing component to support ongoing project impact.
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    What About the Teacher? A Critical Interpretive Synthesis on Literature Describing Music Therapist/Teacher Consultation in Schools
    Steele, ME ; Crooke, AHD ; McFerran, KS (Universtity of Bergen Library, 2020-02-25)
    This article presents findings from a critical interpretive synthesis of the literature pertaining to music therapist teacher support. Descriptions of music therapists providing support to teachers were identified in 40 publications and subject to a process of critical interrogation. Through this process, three tensions were identified that had the potential to impact negatively on teachers’ sustainment of outcomes from the music therapist teacher support experience. These included the challenge of a prevailing focus on students rather than teachers, an underlying tension between descriptions of education and therapy, and a lack of teacher-driven learning intentions. Within the following paper we argue for a shift from a focus on the needs of students to the agency of teachers to maximise possibilities for achieving sustained outcomes from future music therapist teacher support programs. We further propose widening the scope of music therapist support in schools to better align with the professional role of teachers.
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    Examining how music therapists describe providing safety for children and adolescents who have had traumatic experiences: A Critical interpretive synthesis
    Lai, H-IC ; Thompson, G ; McFerran, K (Australian Counselling Association, 2020-12-18)
    This paper presents the result of a critical interpretive synthesis (CIS) that examines how safety is created, explained and represented in the current literature of music therapy trauma recovery programs. Creating a sense of safety is fundamental when providing programs for people who have had traumatic experiences. However, minimal music therapy literature has presented detailed descriptions of constructing safety in the program. The investigators examined a total of twenty-two manuscripts with the intention of gathering multiple perspectives on how safety is described. We first identified the meaning of safety and different vocabulary used by the authors to represent safety taking account of the clients’ state of mind, the relationship with the therapist and/or the peers, and the environment. We discovered that the therapists’ decisions about using different engagement strategies might have the most impact on creating a sense of safety in programs. These engaging strategies included providing structure, active listening, giving the participants control over the activities and offering choices. Moreover, it appears that when a trusting relationship was established in the program, a sense of safety may be created. However, there was little information provided in the manuscripts describing or evaluating the participants’ responses and feedback about their feelings of safety. To conclude, we suggest the lack of detailed descriptions of how safety is created demonstrates the need for more studies to understand the phenomenon better.
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    How musical engagement promotes well-being in education contexts: The case of a young man with profound and multiple disabilities
    McFerran, KS ; Shoemark, H (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2013-01-01)
    Students with profound intellectual disabilities disorders (IDDs) have the right to participate in educational opportunities that recognize their unique resources and needs, as do all children. Because of their specific communication challenges, positive relationships with attentive communication partners are critical for success. In fact, the power of positive relationships in schools is recognized to be connected to student well-being more broadly. This article examines the case of one young man with profound IDD and his relationship with his music therapist using a duo-ethnographic informed paradigmatic case study. Video analysis based on multi-voice perspectives is used to generate hermeneutic phenomenological findings to closely examine the relationship between a young man with profound IDD and a music therapist. The voices of four allied health researchers were also gathered to inform the authors' construction of an informed commentary on the phenomenon. The results suggest that the essence lay in a combination of attentive, responsive and creative being with the other person over time. Four principles of musical engagement were identified in the video footage as critical to the meaningful relationships through music: the music therapist listens; the music therapist takes responsibility for structure; spontaneous initiation is sought from the young person; and the relationship is built over time. These concepts are contextualized within a discussion of student well-being that is underpinned by positive relationships and leads to students achieving their full potential within diverse school contexts.