Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    Beyond barriers: Creating a space for deeper connection between individuals from diverse religious traditions through a dialogic group music therapy process
    Notarangelo, Astrid Danielle ( 2021)
    This project has emerged in response to a community need to create further platforms for interfaith dialogue in Bendigo, a regional city in Victoria, Australia. Community tensions about a new mosque highlighted a need to build stronger relationships amongst the interfaith and wider community. These tensions were at odds with my experiences of creating musical spaces for the expression and exploration of diverse spiritual and religious identity as a music therapist at the local hospital. In these spaces, listening and respect mattered. My close proximity to people with diverse religious perspectives helped me to be more aware of diverse others in the community and of the current tensions. I wanted to see how music could help. An ethnographic approach captured the journey from the institutional context out into the community to engage in a community-based research project, a collaboration with the interfaith community in Bendigo. A cyclic, emergent action research process evolved into a series of focus groups where individual lived experiences of religion and religious rituals were shared, using music as a focus and a support for communication. Eleven collaborators from six different religious traditions in Bendigo came together to take part in a dialogic group music therapy process – musical presentation (Amir, 2012). This process offers a model for listening and engaging in a group. From this process, music playlists, drawings, focus group dialogue and phone interview feedback were generated. This material revealed the strong sense of connection that collaborators felt with others in the group and their enjoyment of coming together to share diverse faith identities in this creative space. The process also highlighted that the vulnerability and challenges that come from engaging in creative processes were valuable and brought new perspectives and growth. The vitality of music as a mode of communication, through which identity, feelings, memory and culture can be explored was highlighted. Collaborators commented on the depth of the experience and the connection to others within a short space of time. Despite the different associations collaborators each had with music, they saw it as helpful in communicating religious identity. Music supported the group to remove some of the usual barriers that existed between them in this new creative space. One of the key statements developed through collaborator feedback was that “This process has the potential to increase understanding, knowledge, and connection in our community”. The project highlights the importance of creating spaces for the exploration and sharing of diverse religious identity. Possibilities for music therapists as advocates, negotiators and community-builders in these kinds of processes are also raised. Engaging in a dialogic group music process highlighted a form of ‘attunement’ between collaborators that related to musical concepts and processes. Music’s capacity to re-conceptualise broader processes and relationships was also highlighted through connecting this project to the concept of ‘community as a harmonic landscape’, as a way of sharing the project with the wider community. Collaborators felt that the process they experienced could act as a ‘stepping stone’ into further creative community action.
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    How does a critical analysis of the literature inform recommendations for writing about mindfulness in music therapy practice?
    Tanhane, Anja Franziska ( 2019)
    Mindfulness Based Therapies have become widespread in clinical work, but so far the literature on integrating mindfulness into music therapy has been limited. The thesis presents the results of a critical interpretive synthesis (CIS) investigating the use of mindfulness in music therapy. The CIS of eight published articles examines how music therapists describe the use of mindfulness in their clinical work. A critical examination of the literature presented in the CIS finds that the use of mindfulness is described under the categories of mindfulness-based, Buddhist-influenced, or mindfulness, and discusses some of the difficulties in describing music therapy processes in this way. Based on the findings from the CIS, and drawing on research from the mindfulness literature as well as my experience as a mindfulness teacher, practising Buddhist, and registered music therapist, the thesis then offers recommendations for music therapists who are interested in using mindfulness-influenced practices in their clinical work and research. The word ‘mindfulness’ has become widespread, and can describe almost anything from relaxation to in-depth therapeutic work to the path to spiritual enlightenment. This broad use of the term can lead to a lack of clarity in how the use of mindfulness is described. The thesis will explore the use of language, including the challenges of adapting concepts from other cultures and belief systems. Research into the adverse effects of meditation is discussed, and the thesis argues that due to these possible harmful effects, music therapists using mindfulness in their work might consider additional training, ensuring they understand the theoretical basis, the benefits and the contra-indications of mindfulness-based therapies. There are also indications in the current literature on mindfulness and music therapy that music therapy processes can at times cultivate mindful states in both therapist and client. This could be an exciting area for further research, potentially leading to the development of a new theoretical model of mindfulness arising from within the creative processes of music therapy.
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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.