Identification of Challenges and Strengths of Children with Special Educational Needs in Their Musical Improvisations



The study of therapeutic uses of musical improvisation can help to improve music therapy assessment which is the aim of this paper. This paper identifies 1. the individual challenges and strengths that may help to deal with problems reflected in musical improvisations of children with special needs and, 2. ways of their identification while listening to the children’s musical expression. Data collected from 180 verbal descriptions of musical improvisations of four children with special needs and then analysed using grounded theory as well as content analysis of documents. It was found that music reflects children’s problems (with mainly bio-behavioural character) as well as their strengths that may be helpful in coping with those problems. Some theoretical guidelines for analysis of musical improvisation and the planning of music therapy intervention were suggested based on these findings.

General Information

Keywords: special needs, assessment, music therapy, musical improvisation, musical expression, analysis

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. Publication of this work was supported by the University of Palacky in Olomouc, the Czech Republic [Dean grant of the Faculty of education: The Creative Means as a Part of Education of Pupils with Special Needs, 2016].

For citation: Lipsky M., Kantor J. Identification of Challenges and Strengths of Children with Special Educational Needs in Their Musical Improvisations [Elektronnyi resurs]. Klinicheskaia i spetsial'naia psikhologiia = Clinical Psychology and Special Education, 2019. Vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 118–136. DOI: 10.17759/cpse.2019080108.


  1. De Backer J. Containment in music therapy. Ch. 3. In M. Heal, A. Storr, Music therapy in health and education. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1993.
  2. Decker Woigt H.H., Weyman E. Lexikon Musiktherapie. Hogrefe, Germany: Göttingen 2009, 2009. 420 p.
  3. Bruscia K.E. The dynamics of music psychotherapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers, 1998. 560 p.
  4. Feder B., Cruz R.F. The Art and Science of Evaluation in the Arts Therapies. 2nd ed. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 2013. 396 p.
  5. Hendl J. Kvalitativní výzkum. Praha, Czech Republic: Portal, 2016.
  6. Karkou V. Arts therapies in schools. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2010.
  7. Nordoff, P., Robbins, C. Creative Music Therapy: A Guide to Fostering Clinical Musicianship. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers, 2007. 516 p.
  8. Pavlicevic M. Dynamic Interplay in Clinical Improvisation. Journal of British Music Therapy, 1990, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 5–9.
  9. Priestley M. Essays on Analytical Music Therapy. Pheonixville, PA: Barcelona Publishers, 1994. 335 p.
  10. Särkämö T. Tervaniemi M., Laitinen S. Music listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke. Brain, 2008, no. 131, pp. 866–876. doi: doi:10.1093/brain/awn013.
  11. Smeijsters H. Sounding the self: Analogy in improvisational music therapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers, 2005. 214 p.
  12. Strauss A.L., Corbinová J. Základy kvalitativního výzkumu: postupy a techniky metody zakotvené teorie. Vyd. 1. Boskovice, Czech Republic: Albert, 1999, 196 s.
  13. Tesch R. Qualitative research: Analysis Types and Software Tools. New York: Falmer, 1990.
  14. Thaut M., Hoemberg V. The Handbook of Neurologic Music Therapy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 384 p.
  15. Weymann E., Tüpker R. Morphological Research. In B. Wheeler (ed.), Music Therapy Research. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers, 2004.
  16. Wong E. Clinical Guide to Music Therapy in Adult Physical Rehabilitation Settings. Silver Spring, MD: American Music Therapy Association, Inc., 2004.
  17. Zeleiová, J. Muzikoterapie: východiska, koncepty, principy a praxe. Praha, Czech Republic: Portál, 2007, 254 s.

Information About the Authors

Matej Lipsky, PhD, Director, CentrumTloskov (Residential Social Care Facility for Persons with Intellectual and Multiple Disability), Neveklov, Czechia, e-mail:

Jiri Kantor, PhD, associate professor, The Institute of Special Education Studies, Palacky University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czechia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 1888
Previous month: 6
Current month: 3


Total: 789
Previous month: 2
Current month: 1