Emily McClure

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy

First Advisor

Barbara L. Wheeler


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how improvised story songs reflect the lived experience of a preschool-age child with developmental delays, exploring what these musical experiences indicate about the child's development and therapeutic process. The researcher developed this area of study based on the participant's unique clinical experience with improvised story songs during his 10 months in music therapy. Archive video recordings of past sessions with the participant were thoroughly reviewed, and three to four improvised story songs were selected as the primary source of data for this study. These songs, as well as the therapeutic process that was occurring when these songs were created, were examined and themes were extracted from these improvised experiences, denoting the primary musical and story themes. Following the synthesis of the data, the researcher deliberated on the ways improvised story songs reflect the child's lived experience, drawing conclusions about the impact of these songs on his developmental and therapeutic process. This study will help music therapists and other professionals better understand the possible roles, elements, and meanings of improvised story songs in the therapeutic process of a young child with developmental delays. Implications and considerations of the study and for future research agendas are discussed.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons