From this world to beyond: A student’s reflections on the role of her violin in music therapy
This practice-based research explores a student music therapist’s experiences and self-reflections on the use of her violin in supporting the elderly at a residential hospital. The objective was to find out how the violin fits in music therapy practice, where practitioners typically use the piano and guitar. Self-reflexivity was employed to increase the student’s understanding of music therapy. The two research questions were ‘why was the violin used and why not’, as well as ‘how was the violin used’. To explore these two questions in depth, a qualitative research study was undertaken, with secondary analysis of data as its methodology. The data consisted of clinical notes and reflective journals from regular practice. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was employed to analyse the data, involving a rigorous process of coding, involving both inductive and deductive methods of analysis along with graphic representations. The student music therapist, acting as both the clinician and researcher, acknowledged the influences of her musical background and spiritual inclinations on the data collected and its interpretation. Findings consisted of clients’ responses, advantages and disadvantages of the violin and the author’s relationship with the violin. A simple ‘How’ framework involving what was played on the violin and how it was played was also included. The author’s reflexivity guided a discussion that integrated the literature review, research findings and the author’s clinical and personal experiences. Drawing upon music therapy definitions and concepts, as well as philosophical ideas and spiritual teachings, answers were found to explain the role of the violin and to provide the author with a new perspective on issues of loss and dying, an understanding of the value of aesthetics and insights into her relationship with the violin.