Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    From social connectedness to equitable access: an action research project illuminating the opportunities and the barriers to accessing music for young people with disability transitioning from school to adult life
    Murphy, Melissa Amy Irving ( 2017)
    The action research project described in this thesis emerged from a partnership between the Community Inclusion Team of a large, not-for-profit disability service organisation in Australia (the Organisation) and the National Music Therapy Research Unit at the University of Melbourne (NaMTRU). The project developed following a question from the Organisation about how music could be an engaging part of young people’s lives as they transitioned from school to adult life. Community inclusion team members of the Organisation had identified that young people who accessed their services, many of who live with more complex disabilities, often experienced challenges in establishing a sense of social connectedness during the transition. The Organisation were interested in how involvement in music may play a role in addressing this challenge. As such, the project began with a focus on the role of music in social connectedness for young people. However, as the project unfolded, the focus began to broaden into the more pressing issue of equitable access to music. The project developed amid the backdrop of the introduction of a new disability funding model in Australia, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This change within the disability sector has had a significant influence on many aspects of this inquiry. An action research approach (Reason and Bradbury, 2008) was used for the project within a transformative paradigm (Mertens, 2009) as it relates to issues of social justice and human rights. This framework encompasses the aim of personal and social transformation within communities that experience oppression and discrimination. Grounded in community music therapy theory and disability studies, the project took the form of four cycles of planning, action and reflection. Cycle 1 involved a critical interpretive synthesis of the literature. Cycle 2 involved semi structured interviews with young people accessing the Organisation to learn about their experiences of social connectedness. Cycle 3 involved focus group discussions with facilitators of music programs accessible to young people to begin building a picture of opportunities to access music and finally, cycle 4 involved the establishment of an ongoing, collaborative community music program with a group of young people. Findings indicate that young people with disability lack sufficient opportunities to access music as a resource in their lives. A variety of opportunities exist that offer different ways of participating in music, but barriers to this participation are continually faced. These include limitations on independent access to information about the existence of programs and opportunities, inadequate funding for independent action and a lack of community infrastructure to accommodate people with differing needs. Once an opportunity was made available in this project, young people embraced the chance to work collaboratively to create the music program into what they needed. This included growing the group membership to satisfy social needs, taking on leadership and marketing roles, making group decisions about the music, the venue and performances. The research project outcomes have implications for roles and actions for music therapists and other facilitators of music programs aimed at a structural level to increase opportunities for young people to access music as a resource in their lives.
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    Parents' and music therapists' reflections on the experience of music and home-based music therapy for paediatric palliative care patients and their families, who come from diverse cultural backgrounds
    Forrest, Lucy Christina ( 2017)
    Music can be an important part of many young children’s lives, especially when a child is unwell, or dying. In recent years, the use of music therapy with children in paediatric palliative care (PPC) has become more widespread, across hospice, hospital and home settings. This qualitative inquiry investigated the experience of music, and home-based music therapy for PPC patients and their families, who come from diverse cultural backgrounds. The inquiry employed a constructivist approach and was informed by grounded theory and meta-ethnography. The inquiry examined how children in PPC and their families experience music, and music therapy in PPC, with a focus on how cultural beliefs and practices shape experience. The inquiry also identified barriers to accessing PPC, music, and music therapy for children and families of diverse cultural backgrounds. Four studies were conducted as part of this inquiry. Study One employed a repeated-interview design to interview six parents of children in PPC about their experience of music and music therapy in caring for a child in PPC. Five mothers and one father participated in an initial interview; and three of the mothers also participated in a six-month follow-up interview, to capture in-the-moment experiences and changes over time. Study Two employed a focus group design to interview three music therapists about their experience of providing music therapy for children and families of diverse cultural backgrounds in home-based PPC. Study Three employed an ethnographic approach for the author to reflect on her work in home-based PPC music therapy with 34 children and their families. Twenty themes emerged from the analysis of Studies One to Three, based around three distinct foci: the palliative care journey; the experience of music; and the experience of music therapy. Study Four conducted a meta-ethnography of Studies One to Three. The meta-ethnography provided a rich and detailed description of how children and families from diverse cultural backgrounds experience PPC, music and home-based music therapy; and also identified barriers to access. Key findings included: 1) Migration, length of time in Australia and cultural shaming can impact isolation, coping, and access to support; 2) Families want music therapy for their child, even if music is not part of their culture or family life; 3) Music can support family health and wellbeing, although the presence of multiple stressors in the family’s life can inhibit use of music; 4) Families use music to express their culture and maintain their cultural identity; 5) Music therapy can support families who have few/no family or other supports, reducing carer stress and isolation, and enhancing parental coping; 6) music therapy can uphold and support cultural and community patterns of relationship in the face of life-threatening illness; 7) child and family experiences of palliative care can be transformed in MT, positively impacting parental coping; and 8) the emotional intensity of music therapy in end-of-life-care can be overwhelming, and lead to family disengagement from music therapy. The thesis makes an important contribution to the fields of music therapy and PPC, in developing understanding of how culture impacts family experiences of PPC, music, and music therapy; and also offers insight into the complexities of conducting research with the highly vulnerable population of children in PPC.