Date of Award


Document Type


Copyright Status, No Creative Commons License

All Rights Reserved

Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy

First Advisor

Barbara Wheeler


There is limited research on the use of the bass guitar in music therapy. This study explored the use of the bass guitar as a clinical instrument from a music-centered perspective in clinical work with individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and emotional challenges. Data were collected from filming individual music therapy sessions with three participants. Each participant had four sessions of music therapy. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Five themes which reflect the interventions and social processes within music-centered work with the bass were identified: following the client’s lead, grounding, client and therapist as rhythm section, client and therapist as soloist and accompanist, and co-creative thematic development. These themes provided structure for further examining the role of the bass within clinical interventions. Clinical descriptions of musical interactions, with audio excerpts, are included to show how the bass guitar was used within improvisational interventions within each theme, as well as to provide context for clinical techniques and roles within the music. Understanding the role of the bass and its aesthetic qualities within the musical process can contribute to providing effective interventions, supporting the role of the client, and facilitating further development in music when working within these themes.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons