Flow State in At-Risk Youth During Group Music Therapy Improvisation: An Exploratory Study

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Schulz, Elisabeth
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
A within-subjects exploratory study of at-risk youth participating in four group music therapy improvisation sessions aimed to determine whether the youth achieved a flow state, analyzing changes in each individual’s state of flow over time, as well as comparing flow rates of youth with previous musical experience to those without previous musical experience. Youth were given the opportunity to participate in four structured music therapy sessions which included a welcome, introductions, discussion of rules, introduction to the instruments and music methods, warm-up music experience, and non-referential group improvisation, all facilitated by a board certified music therapist. Participants’ self-reported flow measures following each group music therapy improvisation tended to be robust. The results of this study did not show much variation in the flow state changes of each participant over time. Additionally, there appeared to be no significant difference in flow states between youth with previous musical experience and no previous musical experience. The scope of this exploratory study was very limited as there were only 7 participants, some of whom did not participate in all four sessions. Future research on the flow states of various populations during clinical improvisation is warranted.