Jasper Lewis

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy


This research study investigated the lived experience of adults with Intellectual Disability (ID) in a music therapy songwriting session. Three study participants, referred to here as Emma, Anne, and Abdoul, took part in individual songwriting music therapy sessions. The participants each completed an original song in collaboration with a board certified music therapist. The songs were recorded and the lyrics of the song were transcribed. After the songwriting experience was complete a 10-20 minute semi-structured interview was conducted to gather data about the participants’ subjective experiences. This data was analyzed according to the interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) framework. Themes were identified intuitively and refined through multiple iterations and then compared across cases in order to answer the following research question: What is the lived experience of a music therapy songwriting session for an adult with intellectual disability? All three of the study participants reported that they found songwriting to be a positive experience. Additional themes were present in two interviews: Songwriting could be used to raise the individual’s esteem in the eyes of their community, songwriting was a novel experience, and songwriting was related to feelings of altruism. Unique themes emerged in individual interviews which related to the participant’s personal context.

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Music Therapy Commons