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January 2022

Music, therapy and technology

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate and implement the use of computer music technology in the music therapy process of severely physically handicapped people. The subject was a 27-year old black male. Prior to the onset of his illness, viral encephalitis, the subject was a professional musician. After the illness, he was rendered a spastic quadriplegic with anarthria, dysphagia, and pseudo-bulbar palsy. The subject and therapist engaged in a one-to-one therapeutic relationship that consisted of 21-90 minute sessions. Both the subject and the therapist engaged in the task of creating computer-based music through the use of computer technology. Because the subject's range of motion was severely compromised by his handicapping condition, an augmentative communication system was designed to allow him to interact with both the computer and the therapist. The research project consisted of three stages. In stage one, the subject was instructed in the use of the computer system. Stage two consisted of the subject's tutorial in music and music theory. Stage three consisted of the subject engaging in the creation of computer music with the therapist. As a result of the subject's interactions with this project, it was concluded that: (1) The introduction of computer technology was a viable and productive form of therapy in this patient's music-making process. (2) The subject was able to successfully undertake and complete all of the stages of this process. (3) The subject was able to successfully resume creating music again. (4) The subject appeared to exhibit an improved sense of self and of purpose through his interactions in his project.

Keyword(s): computer, computer-assisted-instruction, music-therapy, physical-disabilities computer-music-technology.

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