Projects and Research

At the Little Musical Caravan I believe that music therapy work has a very important role to play in expanding our understanding of when, how and why music can be an effective tool in supporting people. 

Here are some of my projects:

Collaborative Article: Music therapy in time of pandemic

Ben and his animals: Creating a playful space for music-making and learning during lockdown

During lockdown my youngest son Ben and I were lucky enough to be involved (as child participant and Mum participant) in an online music-making project initiated by Associate Professor Daphne Rickson (NZSM) in collaboration with Awhi-at-Home. We worked with final year music therapy student Carlos Riegelhaupt Landreani and Associate Professor Sarah Hoskyns (NZSM) to create an online music-making space using Zoom. The four of us wrote a piece about this delightful project for inclusion in a broader collaborative article – Music therapy in time of pandemic: Experiences of telehealth, self-care, and resource-oriented practice during COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Read our collaborative piece in the upcoming edition of NZJMT: Ben and his animals

Post-Ableist Music Therapy

I am currently involved with a small group of other music therapists in New Zealand and Australia. We are exploring how ableist attitudes impact us as music therapists and how our experiences of disability positively influence our practice.

Case Study on Selective Mutism

Developing a sense of belonging: A case study on the use of peer inclusion to support a child with Selective Mutism

This case study explores work I did in my final year of study for the Master of Music Therapy degree at Victoria University, Wellington. It won 2nd place for the Morva Croxson Prize for Emergent Writers 2019 and is due to be published in the New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy in 2020.

This case study explores how the inclusion of peers in individual music therapy sessions helped to support Isobel*, a girl with Selective Mutism. Goals of participation, listening, following instructions and decision-making focused on increasing her ability to function in the social context of the classroom. Peer inclusion in sessions fostered positive relationships, provided peers with a communication ‘toolkit’ and increased Isobel’s social confidence with participating peers. Peers formed a bridge between the music therapy room and the classroom, allowing improvements in one to generalise to the other. It is further suggested that as positive peer relationships developed, Isobel’s sense of belonging increased, which in turn reduced Isobel’s anxiety within the classroom context.

*Isobel is a pseudonym used to maintain confidentiality.

Read my case study in the upcoming edition of NZJMT: Developing a sense of belonging

Musical play in a play-based learning environment

What strategies did I use, as a music therapy student, to promote child-led cooperative play in an inclusive education setting

I submitted this exegesis in 2018 as partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Music Therapy degree at Victoria University, Wellington.

Abstract: The fostering of inclusion in modern mainstream schools can be challenging. Student needs are becoming increasingly diverse, funding is scarce, and an attitudinal shift is necessary to value the contributions and identities of all learners. This study explores how music therapy can assist the process of inclusion by articulating the strategies I, a music therapy student, used when working to enhance musical play within a play-based learning environment. Findings have been generated using the methodology Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data which involved thematic analysis of session notes and my reflexive diary. They describe the strategies I used to facilitate children’s developing social play skills, which varied from onlooker and solitary play, to parallel (alongside) and associative play (with some unorganised verbal and musical interactions), culminating in cooperative play (with children interacting directly to organise play and assign particular roles). I identified five themes reflecting levels of social participation in musical play; meeting individual needs, facilitating involvement, encouraging participation, encouraging interactions and supporting play stages. ‘Encouraging interactions’ was identified as the key theme relating to cooperative play, and the most significant in fostering pro-inclusive social skills. Musical and non-musical strategies are described and the significance of musical co-playing in facilitating pro-inclusive interactions is explored. The strategies identified are relevant for fostering inclusion in other play-based learning programmes and free play environments in both primary schools and pre-schools in New Zealand and globally.

Read my exegesis here: Victoria University of Wellington Research Archive

I am really proud of my projects and research

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch

"Incredibly important piece of writing"

This piece of writing is incredibly important to music therapy both in the New Zealand context and globally. I note the inclusion of peers as an important aspect of the current climate of global research, and commend you opting for this method…Inclusion
provides meaningful outcomes not just for Isobel, but for other students involved too, who not doubt gain a greater awareness of others and how to actively include them after your placement has ended. That is such an excellent outcome.

Judge feedback |  2019 MTh NZ Morva Croxson Prize for Emergent Writers

"Thoughtful and well-presented piece of research"

This exegesis is a thoughtful and very well-presented piece of research on a topic of high relevance in NZ primary education, and a subject clearly of passionate interest to Emily. It is strongly rooted in practice, and there were good relationships made with current play practices in the school, and with relevant theories about play….The expression of the complex skills needed, and multiple ways of approaching issues demonstrated that this is a stimulating and multi-levelled process to support and enhance children’s play and creativity.

Examiner’s report | NZSM, Victoria University of Wellington