Improvisation is defined as, “the art of creating music spontaneously on the basis of nondirective activity.” This can be done in many different ways including drumming, singing, playing piano, or any other instrument we use in music therapy. This can be especially helpful in achieving goals with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Sara Knapik-Szweda conducted a study to determine the effectiveness and influence of vocal and instrumental improvisation on children diagnosed with autism. She discussed the reciprocal interaction between the therapist and patient and how meaningful that is to the musical improvisation. Improvisation provides a safe environment within the musical structure for the patient to be creative. The main goal of her study was to determine the influence of improvisation on communication, social development, and reduction of repetitive behaviors. She found that nonverbal communication, social skills and cognitive goals including joint attention, concentration, memorizing and imitating were all improved in the patients who participated in improvisational music therapy sessions.
Incorporating improvisation into music therapy sessions allows children with ASD to foster creativity as well as get closer to achieving their communication, social, and cognitive goals.
Source: Knapik-Szweda, Sara. (2015). The Effectiveness and Influence of Vocal and Instrumental Improvisation in Music Therapy on Children Diagnosed with Autism. Journal of Education Culture and Society (1), 153-166.