Music, Time & Self: a Time-Oriented Model for Understanding Nordoff and Robbins’s Improvisations

Dr. Tamar Hadar, MT-BC, PhD

Embedded in the Nordoff-Robbins (NR) school of thought, this presentation will focus on the temporal aspect of improvisation in music therapy. In the first part, I will introduce a time-model that describes four temporal contexts employed by NR in supporting their clients’ musical engagement in joint improvisation. The model was based on the analysis of NR’s improvisations with ten of the children they worked with. In the second part I will expand the theoretical frame to include cognitive as well developmental lenses, by reframing the time- model both in schema theory (Aigen, 2005) as well as in Stern’s multi-layered self-theory (Stern, 1985). Throughout the talk I will provide musical excerpts from NR’s work, that demonstrate the time-model. My wish is to elevate the awareness of music therapists to the temporal aspect of improvisation and its possible implication to their everyday practice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify client response to different: elements of music (e.g., melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, form); styles of music; types of musical experiences (e.g., improvising, recreating, composing, and listening); and their variations, types of non-musical experiences. (13. a., b., c., d)
  2. To achieve therapeutic goals: apply a variety of scales, modes, and harmonic progressions; apply standard and alternate tunings; apply the elements of music (e.g., melody, harmony, rhythm); arrange, transpose, or adapt music; compose vocal, instrumental, and digital music; employ functional skills with: digital instruments, guitar, keyboard, percussion instruments, ukulele, voice; improvise using instruments, voice, or movement.  (2. a., b., c., d., e., f., 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., g.)
  3. Employ active listening; provide musical cues; share musical experience and expression with clients. (4r; 4O; 4aa)

Presenter Biography:

Tamar Hadar, MT-BC, PhD, is a music therapist working with infants experiencing developmental delays and their families, and an adjunct faculty at Lesley University. As a professional flutist, she’s currently playing jazz and contemporary music.

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