Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


John J. Cali School of Music

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Brian Abrams

Committee Member

Eric Miller

Committee Member

David Witten


Music therapy, Music--Performance--Psychological aspects, Music for relaxation


This study aimed to look at the effects of client directed therapeutic musical improvisation on relaxation. The protocol used immediate brain wave data to inform a music therapist’s improvisation for the purpose of affecting the client’s state of rest.

Based on prior and existing music therapy techniques, this music therapy method was further developed by the researcher and thesis sponsor, and for the sake of consolidation and brevity, was given the name, Neurologically-Informed Musicking (NIM). The researcher asked the following questions: (1) What form does the NIM process takes when relaxation is a clinical goal? How (if at all) does the process promote relaxation? (2) Are there statistically significant relationships between electroencephalograph (EEG) measurements and NIM improvisation strategies associated with state of silence, rest, unrest, and sleep in a therapeutic setting? Comparisons among visual representations of measurements show (a) baseline EEG fluctuations between Silence and NIM, (b) bandwidth differences before and after changes in specific musical elements of improvisation. AMest demonstrated that statistically significant differences in Theta/Beta ratio between silence (baseline) and NIM (improvisational music phase). However, /-test results showed no statistically significant differences in Theta/Beta bandwidth ratio upon specific changes across musical elements (key change, tempo change, trills, and rest). Based upon findings, it is evident that NIM may represent a useful music therapy protocol in facilitating relaxation or other clinical goals across a diversity of settings and clients. However, additional research is needed before more confident conclusions can be drawn.

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