Matsuri Imura

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy

First Advisor

Claire M. Ghetti


Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (NRMT) is an improvisational model of music therapy that involves active music making between a client and therapist. Through this interaction, the therapist may promote communication, self-expression and relatedness (Aigen, 2005). NRMT requires advanced training beyond what is necessary to practice music therapy at an entry level, and it offers certification at three levels. This study examined the experience of three participants who have completed Level I NRMT training. The first level of training focuses on developing musical resources and clinical applications of music while trainees attend classes and conduct individual and group sessions. Improvisational competencies necessary to meet the requirements of the training include developing listening skills, musical awareness, and proficiency in various musical styles. While the NRMT training emphasizes the development of the therapists' relationship with music, there are few studies that focus on the trainees' self-growth experiences during their training. The purpose of this phenomenological inquiry was to explore how NR trainees experience self-growth during their certification training by examining the complex nature of their personal and musical growth processes. I interviewed three female music therapists whose primary instruments include piano and cello, and followed Moustaka's (1994) data analysis process: 1) Setting aside my own biases, 2) Listing significant statements from the interview transcription, 3) Grouping those statements into meaning units, 4) Writing a textural description about what was experienced, 5) Writing a structural description of how the participants experienced the phenomenon, and 6) Developing a narrative description of the essence of NRMT trainees' personal and musical growth in their training. Results include four overarching themes with specific sub-themes under each: 1) Being Challenged (Subthemes: Self-doubt as a musician, Fear of being judged of exposed, Being self-critical, and Getting in one's own way); 2) Facing the Challenges (Subthemes: Realization/becoming aware, Aid of the supervisor); 3) The Shifting Point (Subthemes: Feeling connected, Communicating with the client); and 4) Significant Changes in Therapists (Subthemes: Building confidence as a musician, Becoming more aware of struggles and letting go of negative thoughts, Accepting oneself and opening up, and Developing a relationship with music). The findings of this study may help to enlighten NR trainers and future trainees about the range of experiences of NR trainees may encounter during the training process.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons