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July 2021

Music therapy assessment in school settings: a preliminary investigation

Author(s): Smith, D. S.

Journal/Book: J Music Ther. 2000; 37: 95-117.

Abstract: The present investigation was undertaken in response to music therapists working in school settings for information relating to the availability of music therapy assessments and the feasibility of standardizing an assessment instrument for music therapists to use in school settings. Five research questions were identified, and the music therapy literature was surveyed to compile responses to those questions. Three different online data bases (ERIC, PsycINFO, and Article 1st) were used, covering articles published between 1980 and 1997. Individual hand searches were done of the Arts in Psychotherapy, Journal of Music Therapy, Journal of Research in Music Education, Journal of the International Association of Music for the Handicapped, Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives. The questions and responses were as follows: 1. Which music-based assessment tools are being used with children with disabilities? Little commonality in assessment tools being used by music therapists and researchers was discovered. Of the total 41 studies, 20 (49%) reported using a "named" or "titled" assessment tool, and in the remaining 51% of studies, the authors reported using an untitled, and usually experimenter-designed, original assessment tool. 2. Have certain assessments been used in more than one study? Very limited replication of existing assessments was found. Of the 16 "named" assessments, only 3 were found to be used in more than one research study. 3. Are the actual assessments published along with the articles describing their use? Only 3 of the 20 studies using named assessments were published along with the journal article. Of the remaining 21 studies using original, experimenter-designed assessment tools, only 6 (28%) had the assessment instrument published with the article. 4. What is the primary purpose for using the assessment? Six primary purposes emerged from the review of the literature: to compare with data obtained from other assessment measures or from other populations (39%), as a baseline or pretest measure (29%), to determine eligibility for services or the receipt of treatment (12%), to determine the psychometric properties of the assessment (7%), suitability of the instrument for the given population (7%), and the identification of musical preferences (5%). 5. What are the musical or nonmusic elements being assessed? Musical elements were: music perception (37%), musical aptitude (29%), musical preferences (12%), and attention to/enjoyment of music (2%). Nonmusical behaviors/responses were: self-expression (10%), motor responses (10%), behavioral responses (7%), cognitive development (2%), and acts of communication (2%). 6. What subject populations are being assessed? Subject populations were: children with developmental disabilities/mental retardation (44%), children with autism (10%), children with hearing impairments (17%), "psychiatric" clients or emotionally disturbed (22%), individuals described as "handicapped" (5%), individuals with physical disabilities (2%), and a student with a speech impairment (2%). Nondisabled individuals were also included in 12 of the aforementioned studies.

Keyword(s): Child. Developmental Disabilities/diagnosis/rehabilitation. Human. Music Therapy/methods. Psychological Tests. Schools

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