Intervention Inspiration Series: Therapeutic Improvisation

As a new initiative for MTSA this summer, we are choosing to share different ideas for Music Therapy practice in the hopes that this will provide a valuable resource for beginning music therapists and as inspiration for practicing therapists. Every Monday, a different intervention idea will be presented. They will be very basic and will be best as beginning inspiration to be varied and adapted for different clinical settings. They may include specific music, but will typically only indicate the style of music to be incorporated.

The following basic format will be given for each intervention: 1) Activity, the type of intervention; 2) Target population, the intended client population for the intervention; 3) Materials, the instruments and supplies required; 4) Goals/Aims, ideas for goals or aims that could be addressed in the intervention; 5) Method, a detailed description of what would occur during the intervention; 6) Comments, an explanation of why this intervention is applicable for the given client population and how the goals/aims are addressed; and 7) Evaluation, questions to allow for reflection on whether or not the intervention was effective for a particular client or clients.

Therapeutic Improvisation

by Tessa D’Achille

Therapeutic Improvisation

Photo Source


Improvisation using drums and if desired, voice

Target Population:

Children aged 10-12 with Cerebral Palsy





– To encourage members to participate freely and comfortably on their turn

– To encourage a sense of play and creativity within the group

– To encourage self-expression

– To increase group awareness through turn taking

– To actively participate in a social setting


The therapist will begin by playing the starting chord progression to the song “You’ve got a Friend in me” by Randy Newman, but will instead sing the words “Who wants to play with me?”

The second verse will consist of the therapist choosing a group member and singing “Does [insert client’s name] want to play with me?”

The third verse will be entirely improvisatory, with the therapist staying loosely within the chord structure of the song while encouraging the client to participate by improvising with them through piano and voice.

This is then repeated as many times as needed until each of the group members have had a turn.


Many children with Cerebral Palsy have difficulties with social interaction, in addition to their physical difficulties.  Improvisation may be a good way for them to express themselves to their peers and be heard, while still having the safe support of the Music Therapist while they take part in this activity.


Were all the group members comfortable improvising?

Did all the group members participate?

Did they react positively to the experience?

Was the piano and voice support effective in engaging them?

Did all the group members respect the turn system?

Was the group supportive and understanding during each of the client’s improvisations?

Were there any meaningful interactions during the improvisation?


About Laurier MTSA

We are a student association at Wilfrid Laurier University and most of our members are students in the Music Therapy program. We exist to educate about, promote, and support the work of music therapy, and to support the academic, career, and personal needs of the Music Therapy Students. Our mandate is to unite prospective, current and alumni students while promoting our profession in the larger community.
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