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Group vocal improvisation as a music therapy technique in mental health settings: A narrative synthesis systematic review

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This systematic review aims to map and assess the current evidence for the use of group vocal improvisation (GVI) as a music therapy technique in mental health settings. Synthesizing the types of interventions that have been evaluated in previous studies and their different research designs is a first step towards developing a body of evidence and guidance in order to inform the clinical application of GVI. Through a narrative synthesis method, the systematic search yielded 300 potentially relevant studies, out of which 30 fulfilled the full inclusion criteria. The analysis shows that GVI does not appear in the literature as an established music therapy technique and instead seems to be a by-product of an implicit dichotomy associating singing with pre-composed material and group improvisation with instruments. The literature also shows promising evidence for the psychological implications of the use of voice and of improvisation as distinct practices.
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Keywords: clinical improvisation; group work; music therapy; narrative synthesis; systematic review; voice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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  • The Journal of Applied Arts and Health serves a wide community of artists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers evidencing the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary use of arts in health and arts for health. It provides a forum for the publication and debate within an interdisciplinary field of arts in healthcare and health promotion. The journal defines 'health' broadly which includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and community health.
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