F&P: Relationship and Dialogue in Music Therapy

This week's Food & Paper will be given by Laura Bishop (RITMO) on Music Therapy Partner-Play Improvisations.

Laura Bishop


Partner-play improvisation is a music therapy method that involves a patient and therapist improvising freely together. The aim of the improvisation is not to produce an artistic product, but to create a dialogue between patient and therapist. The therapist may use different techniques, such as supporting, mirroring, or confronting in order to stimulate the development of a therapeutic relationship. In this talk, I will present some preliminary results from a feasibility study that used a partner-play piano improvisation task alongside collection of MIDI, physiological, questionnaire, and interview data. The aim was to test the practicality of the experimental paradigm and establish a data analysis framework. Participants included trained music therapists and healthy volunteers who had varying amounts of musical experience. So far, analyses of the musical data show that even participants without prior piano experience can engage in musical dialogue, varying parameters such as loudness, chord size, articulation, and note timing together with their therapist partner. Our ongoing analyses aim to combine the musical findings with the results from the interviews in a framework describing the different relational experiences that arose during the improvisations.


Laura Bishop is a Postdoctoral Researcher at RITMO and Principal Investigator of the Austrian Science Fund project “Achieving Togetherness in Music Ensembles”. She completed her PhD at the MARCS Institute in Sydney, Australia, and subsequently held a postdoctoral position at the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence, in Vienna, where she led a project on coordination and creativity in ensemble playing. Her research examines expressive body-based interaction in music ensembles, attention during music performance, and musical creativity.

Published Mar. 8, 2021 5:57 PM - Last modified Mar. 15, 2021 11:13 AM