Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Veblen, Kari K


All humans are born with musical capacity, yet many individuals have minimal access to active music-making and its affordances. This integrated-article dissertation explores the impact of participation in musical performance as it pertains to self-identity and relationship for participants who face barriers in accessing artistic engagement. Drawing upon music-centered theory from music therapy, this research celebrates the fundamentally performed and relational nature of musicking and the self and explores implications for music therapy and music education.

The first two articles explore the “Coffee House”, a community music therapy event at an adolescent mental health facility, through the voices of youth and staff performers. In the first article, a case study, I suggest that the Coffee House’s participatory ethos affords an inclusive and supportive atmosphere in which performers experience accomplishment and self-efficacy. As all members of this community are welcomed to perform, a levelling of hierarchical relationship dynamics occurs. In the following article, I examine the impact of performing at this event upon participants’ identities and relationships. I argue that expansions in youths’ identities were connected to staff members’ expanded perspectives on these youths; these expanded perspectives in turn afforded new relational possibilities. The narrative research presented in the third article explores the impact of performing at an inclusive creative-arts day camp. Participating campers and their families described performance as allowing children with disabilities to experience themselves as artistically capable and contributing to their communities. Transformations in children’s self-perceptions were interwoven with audience members’ transformed perceptions of them.

These participants identify many affordances of music-making while affirming the value of musicking itself. That this music-centered perspective can serve as an impetus for transdisciplinary dialogue between music therapists and music educators, while providing a unifying vision for the role of music in therapy and education, is the final article’s focus. These articles illuminate that musical performance’s impact upon individuals and their communities, in music therapy and beyond, cannot be achieved in any other way. More broadly, this research exemplifies the vast potential for transdisciplinary work between all practitioners whose work celebrates music-making and human relationship.

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Music Therapy Commons