An investigation into the effects of structured music workshops with adults with mental handicap

Raymond MacDonald, P. J O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the effects of structured group workshops for a population with special needs. Twenty subjects, each with a mild or moderate mental handicap, attended a series of 10 weekly 1-hour music workshops on the structured group playing of a Javanese Gamelan. Twenty subjects formed a non-intervention control group. The experimental hypothesis was that participation in the experimental group would produce significant improvements in musical ability as measured by the Rossi test of musical ability, devised and validated for use in this study. Significant gains in communication skills as measured by the Communication Assessment Profile for Adults with a Mental Handicap (CASP) and self-esteem levels measured by the Khalid semantic differential technique were also postulated. It was also suggested that these gains would be significantly correlated. Results show significant gains in musical ability (instrumental rhythm production: t = 5.67, d.f. = 29, p < 0.01 and simple rhythm production: t = 8.42, d.f. = 29, p < 0.01) and communication skills (t = 4.69, d.f. = 29, p < 0.01). Moreover these results are significantly correlated (r = 0.59, p < 0.05, r = 0.75, p < 0.05, r = 0.56, p < 0.05). A ceiling effect was obtained in the measurement of self-esteem. It is suggested that these gains derive from certain aspects of the musical communicative environment at the workshops. Suggestions for future research involve examining the possible influences on these developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-197
Number of pages13
JournalOccupational Therapy International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1994


  • mental handicap
  • music workshops
  • communication skills
  • musical ability
  • self-esteem


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