Therapeutic Applications of Music Technologies Across the Life Span: Expanding the Boundaries of Practice and Research

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Technology, in the broader sense, has been used in music therapy since the profession’s development during the latter half of the 20th century. However, in the last decade alone society has seen the development of hand held devices, such as MP3 players, smart phones and tablets. All of these devices have revolutionized the way society at large interacts with and depends upon digital technologies, particularly in regards to music listening, music storage, music creation and music performance. The music therapy profession has struggled to respond to this exponential rate of technological developments as the training resources for applying technologies therapeutically have been lacking.

Drawing from my recent book on this topic, I will summarize some key issues stemming from a number of research projects that have explored music therapy practice using a range of technologies. Illustrating indications for the use of technology with clinical examples, I will also discuss some of the contraindications for using these tools. The presentation will include information about widely accessible resources for music technology in music therapy for practitioners wishing to explore more its application with people with complex needs.

Learner objectives: 

  1. Participants will be able to state three indicators for using technology in music therapy (CBMT Scope of Practice: I. C. 8. 10. 12; IV. A. 7);
  2. Participants will be able to identify 3 future directions for research concerning digital and electronic music technologies in music therapy (CBMT Scope of Practice: I. C. 8. 10. 12; IV. A. 7).


About Wendy Magee, PhD:

Wendy L. Magee PhD is Associate Professor of Music Therapy at Temple University, Philadelphia. Before this, she worked in neuropalliative rehabilitation for nearly 25 years as a music therapy clinician, researcher, manager and trainer. Based at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London between 1990-2011 she worked with adults with acquired and complex neuro-disabilities, including a post-doctoral fellowship in Music Therapy (2004-2011). During this time, she began research into the use of music technology in music therapy, culminating in a Leverhulme Fellowship held at Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA. Her recent book, Music Technology in Therapeutic and Health Settings stems from her collaboration with Berklee. Dr. Magee has recently won grants to further her research into music technology in therapeutic contexts and also into assessment tools for people in disorders of consciousness.