This is an example of music improvisation in a group. Special thanks to all the music therapist trainees at Anglia Ruskin University who have contributed to this video. Here, I would like to share some personal thoughts about this piece of improvisation.
In this excerpt, you will be able to hear that all of us listened to each other, reflected and mirrored the musical language like a communication. It is important to clarify here that this is NOT a piece of clinical improvisation. It is merely a demonstration of how some of the clinical music therapy improvisation techniques are used. You might then ask, ‘What’s the difference between clinical improvisation and music improvisation?’ Well, the answer to this question is quite broad. I would say that a clinical music improvisation involves finding or creating meanings in that piece of music, that is shared together with the therapists as well as the client. This meaning could be some sort of recognition of internal changes, or a therapeutic relationship that is established between the therapist and the client.

A demonstration of Free Music Improvisation in music therapy

Video prepared by Kit Yang Carol Cheung (Trainee Music Therapist @ Anglia Ruskin University, UK), May 2012.

Personally, I thought it was a very interesting piece of improvisation. First of all, I would like to talk about the group.

I have chosen an ‘all east-asian’ group on purpose (Our course is actually very culturally diverse). This is because I felt it might be more appropriate as this is a Hong Kong-based website. It was actually the first time I had the opportunity to improvise together with a traditional Chinese instrumentalist. The appearance of the Yangqin definitely had an impact on the way we all improvise together. It was very surprising how everyone instantly improvised in a pentatonic scale, a scale that is featured in many traditional Chinese music. I always wondered if we did not have any prior knowledge of this piece of instrument, would we still choose to play in such mode?

After this improvisation, we had a little discussion about the music and I asked if she could play in a western mode with the scales that westerners are familiar of and we had a minute or two to jam some music but because of time, we did not manage to record another piece of improvised music.