Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Violin in Music Therapy: How do I use the violin in music therapy with people who have intellectual disabilities or neurological conditions?

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posted on 2021-12-08, 22:29 authored by Kelly, Lucy

In this research I explored my use of the violin in music therapy with people who have intellectual disability and neurological conditions. I am interested in this topic because the violin is my primary instrument and I wanted to learn more about its therapeutic potential. My research methodology was Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data, and the data were my clinical notes and research journal. Findings were generated through thematic analysis of the data. Five themes emerged. Specifically, I found that the violin’s voice-like timbre was helpful in fostering connections and encouraging emotional and communicative expression. Similarly, the ability to physically share the instrument, and to play it while mobile, also fostered connections between me and my participants. Because of my expertise on the violin I was able to utilize a vast variety of performance techniques both with familiar music and within improvisations that elicited meaningful musical moments. My relationship with the violin has developed and changed throughout this process and the violin has become a part of my identity as a music therapist. I anticipate that findings will interest other music therapists, and perhaps encourage them to use alternative instruments within their practice.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Music Therapy

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Music Therapy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Rickson, Daphne