Evaluating Note Frequency and Velocity During Improvised Active Music Therapy in Clients With Parkinson's Disease

J Music Ther. 2023 May 5;60(1):36-63. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thac014.


The purpose of this article was to report on the findings of the note frequency and velocity measures during Improvised Active Music Therapy (IAMT) sessions with individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD). In this single-subject multiple baseline design across subjects, the article reports the note frequency (note count) and velocity of movement (mean note velocity) played by three right-handed participants while playing uninterrupted improvised music on a simplified electronic drum-set. During baseline, the music therapist played rhythmic accompaniment on guitar using a low-moderate density of syncopation. During treatment, the Music Therapist introduced rhythms with a moderate-high density of syncopation. The music content of the sessions was transformed into digital music using a musical instrument digital interface. Results of this study indicated that all participants exhibited an increase in note count during baseline until reaching a plateau at treatment condition and were found to be significantly positively correlated with the Music Therapist's note count. All participants played more notes with upper extremity (UE) across conditions than with lower extremity. All participants also scored similar total mean velocity across conditions. Two participants demonstrated higher mean note velocity with UE than right foot, whereas the other participant did not demonstrate this difference. Two participants also exhibited greater mean note velocity variability with left foot within and across conditions. More research is required to identify commonalities in note count and mean note velocity measures in individuals with PD during IAMT sessions.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; drum-set; improvised active music therapy; musical instrument digital interface; note count; note velocity.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Movement
  • Music Therapy* / methods
  • Music*
  • Parkinson Disease* / therapy