A-Z List


Learning & Behavior

Journal of Music Therapy
(Entries 1-21)

Compiled by Jessica Lichty


Madsen, Clifford, K., and Charles H. Madsen Jr.. “Music as a behavior modification technique with a juvenile delinquent.” Journal of Music Therapy, 72-84 No. 3 (1968): 5.

The case study presented illustrates the contingent use of music and music participant activities in the treatment of a severely disturbed youngster while on court probation. Principles derived from experimentation, presently gaining greater acceptance and spread among behavioral therapists, were used with the 15-year-old juvenile delinquent. Music and participant music activities,  i.e., guitar lessons, guitar withdrawal, and recorded music were used with a successful treatment outcome. Follow-up after thirty months indicates that previous maladaptive behavior is absent and positive adaptive responses have generalized to other areas of his life.


Galloway, Herbert, F., and Marjorie F. Bean. “The effects of action songs on the development of body image and body part identification in hearing impaired preschool children.” Journal of Music Therapy, 125-134 No. 3 (1974):11.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the application of music action songs to the specific tasks of body-image development and improvement in children with hearing impairments in a preschool classroom setting. Body-image in this study was defined as the individual’s awareness and knowledge of the physical and spatial characteristics of his own body. Body vocabulary was defined as the identification of body parts by the child upon request. The results of this study suggest that music may be a useful method in teaching selected concepts to children with hearing-impairments.


Einstein, Susan Rachel. “Effect of contingent guitar lessons on reading behavior.” Journal of Music Therapy (1974), 138-146 No. 3.

The results of the study indicate that contingent guitar lessons were a significant factor in increasing reading behavior of the subjects. Increases in behaviors were found when the guitar contingency was offered, and when the guitar was withdrawn, decreases in the level of appropriate reading behaviors occurred.


Underhill, Karen K., and Lawrence M. Harris. “The effect of contingent music on establishing imitation in behaviorally disturbed  retarded children.” Journal of Music Therapy, 156-166, No. 3. (1974):11.

This study found that the use of music may have several advantages not ordinarily found in other forms of reinforcement. When the music was made contingent upon a correct imitative response, a substantial increase in the percentage of the desired behavior was noted for all four subjects. In general a causal relationship would seem to be evident between the effect of contingent music and the frequency of imitative behavior.


Miller, D. Merrily, Laura Dorow, and R.Douglas Greer. “The contingent use of music and art for improving arithmetic scores.” Journal of Music Therapy, 57-64, No. 2 (1974): 11.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of pairing a non-preferred activity with a preferred activity as a reinforcer for improving arithmetic scores. Although preference for music listening or art activities did not change as a result of the treatment, lack of experimental control prohibits any conclusions regarding pairing of preferred and non-preferred activities. However, music listening and art paired together, as well as the less preferred activity, acted to reinforce arithmetic achievement. During both treatments composite arithmetic scores were higher than in the baselines.


Johnson, Janet M., and Carol Connor Zinner. “Stimulus fading and schedule learning in generalizing and maintaining behaviors.” Journal of Music Therapy, 84-96. No. 2 (1974): 11.

Results demonstrated that the increased amount of therapist time and attention required for establishing desired behaviors could be gradually decreased when specific plans for maintaining client behaviors were applied. These maintenance and generalization procedures greatly increased the relevance and value of systematic acquisition procedures.


Metzler, Roberta Kagin. “The use of music as a reinforcer to increase imitative behavior in severely and profoundly retarded female residents.” Journal of Music Therapy, 97-110, No. 2 (1974): 11.

This study attempted to measure the influence of music as a reinforcer to increase imitative behavior in female residents with severe and profound mental retardation. Under the conditions of this study, the variable of music as a reinforcer was not found to increase imitative behavior in the subjects studied, and it did not influence discriminatory behavior.


Jorgenson Helen. “The use of a contingent music activity to modify behaviors which interfere with learning.” Journal of Music Therapy, 41-46. No. 1 (1974): 11.

The study demonstrated the effectiveness of using a music activity to decrease two behaviors which interfered with learning. The data indicated that making the music activity contingent on following directions and on the absence of stereotyped behavior resulted in better direction following and fewer stereotypic behaviors.


Cook, Marilyn and Margery Freethy. “The use of music as a positive reinforcer to eliminate complaining behavior.” Journal of Music Therapy, 213-216, No. 4 (1973):10.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of contingent music. The hypothesis stated that music can be a positive reinforcer to eliminate inappropriate behavior. Music, when used contingently, was an effective reinforcer in eliminating complaining behaviors with this patient. Decrease in the frequency of behaviors was facilitated when the patient was instructed about the contingencies.


Greenwald, M. Amelia. “The effectiveness of distorted music versus interrupted music to decrease self-stimulatory behaviors in profoundly retarded adolescents.” Journal of Music Therapy, 58-66, No. 2(1978): 15.

This study attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of distorted music versus interrupted music to decrease self-stimulatory behaviors in profoundly retarded adolescents. Subjects were four profoundly retarded, multiply handicapped clients who exhibited high rates of self-stimulatory behaviors. The study utilized a changing conditions design consisting of two baseline conditions: silence and noncontingent music, and two treatment conditions: (1) contingent music and distorted music, and (2) contingent music and silence. During treatment sessions, music listening was contingent upon appropriate behavior. Whenever specified inappropriate behaviors occurred, distorted music or silence was presented. No substantial decrease in the self-stimulatory behaviors of the subjects occurred. Data were inconsistent for all subjects across all conditions. The lack of treatment effect may be due to the low functioning level of the subjects and the extremely high rate of self-stimulatory behaviors. The lack of effort supports the conclusion of the one study previously conducted which used music with profoundly retarded subjects.


McCarty, Bonnie C., Colleen McElfresh, Shelia V. Rice, Susan J. Wilson. “The effect of contingent background music on inappropriate  bus behavior.” Journal of Music Therapy, 150-156. No. 3 (1978): 15.

The influence of contingent music on the fighting and out-of-seat behavior of emotionally disturbed children riding three school buses was the focus of this study. The procedure consisted of baseline without music, baseline with music and contingent music introduced at weekly intervals on each bus. A one-day reversal was instituted on the first bus. Percentages of time of inappropriate behaviors for each bus each day were computed and plotted on graphs. The multiple baseline design clearly demonstrates that inappropriate behavior on the buses decreased with the use of contingent music.


Roskam, Kay. “Music therapy as an aid for increasing auditory awareness and improving reading skill.” Journal of Music Therapy, 31-42. No. 1 (1979):16.

This study investigated the effectiveness of a planned series of music activities designed to expand auditory perception and improve  language skills in learning disabled children. It was intended to substantiate the relationships between audition and language, music and language, and behavior and language. The 36 children were divided into three groups and treated for reading difficulties using prescriptive music therapy, language development activities, and a combination of these. All children were pre-tested and post tested for skill in reading recognition, reading comprehension, spelling, nonverbal auditory awareness, and verbal auditory awareness. Although the music therapy group showed the highest mean difference in the pretest and posttest scores, an analysis of variance showed no statistical difference among the three groups.


Owens, Lynne D.. “The effects of music on the weight loss, crying, and physical movement of newborns.” Journal of Music Therapy, 83-90, No. 2. (1979): 16.

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of music on the weight loss, crying, and physical movements of newborns. Twenty-nine normal newborns were exposed to routine auditory stimulation and 30 normal newborns were exposed to taped musical auditory stimulation. The musical stimulation consisted of approximately 5 minutes of recorded lullabies played 12 times daily at an average of every 2 hours. No significant difference was found between the two groups in terms of weight loss, percentage of babies crying, or percentage of babies moving their arms, legs, or head.


Holloway, Martha Snead. “A comparison of passive and active music reinforcement to increase preacademic and motor skills in severely retarded children and adolescents.” Journal of Music Therapy, 58-69, No. 2 (1980): 17.

Eight severely retarded subjects were each taught two behaviors with contingent music listening (passive reinforcement) and contingent rhythm instrument playing (active reinforcement) to determine which type of reinforcement was more effective. A variation of the multiple baseline design was used in which a baseline condition preceded and followed two treatment conditions, passive and active music. Treatment conditions for each behavior were terminated at criterion or after the subject failed to meet criterion. Criterion was defined as an increase of 25 % above the baseline mean for three consecutive sessions. An F test was performed at the sessions to criterion and the behavior frequencies under each reinforcement condition. Results indicated that both passive and active music reinforcement had a positive effect even though no significant differences were discerned between the two reinforcers for either variable.


Davis, William B., Norman A. Wieseler, and Thomas E. Hanzel. “Reduction of rumination and out-of-seat behavior and generalization  of treatment effects using a non-intrusive method.” Journal of Music Therapy, 115-131 No. 3 (1983): 20.

A multiple base-line-across-situations design was used to determine (1) the effects of contingent removal of music and a verbal cue on the frequency of rumination and (2) the effect of contingent removal of music on the duration of out-of-seat behavior. A profoundly retarded male served as participant for the 93-day study. Results indicted that contingent music and the verbal cue were effective in reducing out-of-seat behavior. Generalization was then programmed to the participant’s normal classroom setting.


McElwain, Juanita. “The effect of spontaneous and analytical listening on the evoked cortical activity in the left and right hemispheres of musicians and non-musicians.” Journal of Music Therapy, 180-189 No. 4 (1979):19.

This study investigated the effects of spontaneous music listening and analytical music listening on electro encephalographic alpha cortical activity of the right and left temporal lobes of 50 musicians and 50 nonmusicians. The aural condition was the Allegro movement of Bach’s “Concerto for Three Violins and Orchestra.” The number of seconds the subjects spent producing electro encephalographic alpha cortical activity within each 3-minute aural condition constituted the dependent measure. Each subject in both the musician and the non-musician group received two presentations of an aural condition, with instructions to listen spontaneously and analytically. During each presentation, the left and right temporal lobes were each monitored for 3 minutes. Analysis of the time subjects spent producing alpha showed significant difference in alpha rhythm cortical activity in interaction between musician/non-musician and left and right temporal lobes. No significant differences were found between groups or conditions. A post-hoc Neuman-Keuls Multiple Range Comparison Procedure revealed alpha to be significantly higher in the right than in the left  temporal lobes of non-musicians; alpha was significantly higher in the right than in the left temporal lobes of musicians.


Nelson Killian, Janice K.. “Effect of instructions and feedback on music teaching skills.” Journal of Music Therapy, 166-180 No. 4 (1981): 18.

This study investigated the effects of three feedback procedures on music teaching skill acquisition by prospective elementary and special education teachers. Feedback procedures included systematic videotape self-observation (counting and recording  instances of specified teaching skill), unguided videotape self-observation, and instructor verbal feedback without videotape observation. Music teaching skills selected were teacher verbal reinforcement, nonverbal reinforcement (touches and facial expressions), and use of instructional time (amount of lesson time involving music and student participation). Of additional interest was the effect of teaching skill acquisition on students’ attentiveness. Teachers (n=32) received instructions to perform a specific  skill, taught a 5-minute music lesson, and subsequently received differential feedback during eight teaching sessions. No-contact  control teachers (n=20) taught pre-posttest or posttest-only lessons and received neither instructions nor feedback. Statistical results indicated no significant differences between feedback conditions on teaching skill or teacher attitude. All feedback groups were significantly better than no-contact control groups on measures of verbal and touch reinforcement. Graphic analysis of eight  teaching sessions allowed comparison of teaching skill acquisition across time, during new and retaught lessons, and better children and peer student populations.


Soraci Jr., Sal, Deckner, William, McDaniel Cynthia and Richard Blanter. “The relationship between rate of rhythmicity and the stereotypic behaviors of abnormal children.” Journal of Music Therapy, 46-54 No. 1 (1982): 19.

Eleven abnormal children classified at various levels of mental retardation were observed reacting to four different rates of a rhythmic musical soundtrack. Consistent with the hypothesis, an inverted u-shaped function was found over all levels of stereotypic behaviors across rates. Specific behaviors showed similar patterns as a function of rate of rhythmicity. The present study demonstrates that (a) abnormal children are perceptually sensitive to the rate of an auditory rhythm and not merely its intensity, and (b) the rate of the  auditory rhythm has an important impact on the frequency of a number of potentially maladaptive stereotypic behaviors.


Kahans, Daniel and Michael B. Calford. “The influences of music on psychiatric patients’ immediate attitude change toward therapists.” Journal of Music Therapy, 179-187 No. 3 (1982): 19.

This study examined whether music facilitated an immediate attitude change toward a therapist by patients. To determine the characteristics of such a change, recorded (popular and classical) and live (cello) music was employed. A semantic differential was used to measure attitude change by psychiatric inpatients and control subjects (medical students and student nurses). Significant attitude changes were found when the music preference involved the presence of the therapist and when this preference was conveyed to the audience. Patient breakdown into diagnostic categories also showed that patients with affective or alcoholic disorders showed significantly larger attitude change than those in the control groups. Results are discussed in terms of cognitive consistency theories of attitude change, concluding that maximal attitude change toward a therapist occurs under conditions in which  the therapist presents new aspects of behavior (in terms of previous exposure) to the patients.


Madsen, Clifford K., and John M. Geringer. “Attending behavior as a function of in-class activity in university music class.” Journal of music Therapy, 30-38 No. 1 (1983): 20.

This study examined the extent to which the attending behavior of students in university music classes is a function of the classroom activity in which the students engage. Behavior was observed during teacher lecture, student discussion, performance, listening, music dictation, and “getting ready” activities. On-task behavior also was examined for possible relationships with six different subject matters: music history, theory, music education methods, choral ensembles, instrumental ensembles, and music therapy classes. A total of 120 classes were observed. Trained observers viewed a total of 40 different classrooms; interobserver reliability averaged .87 for off task judgments and .96 for activity coding. Significantly different levels of off-task behaviors were found for both type of activity and classroom curricula. Music performance activities had low levels of off-task behavior. Students showed higher off-task levels when teachers and students were interacting verbally, and were the most off task during periods of “getting ready” for activities.


Wolfe, David E.. “The effect of automated interrupted music on head posturing of cerebral palsied individuals.” Journal of Music Therapy, 1980, 17, 184-206.

The study investigated the effect of interrupted music/silence and interrupted music/tone on the head posturing of persons having cerebral palsy. Twelve subjects clinically diagnosed as having spastic cerebral palsy and ranging in age from 3-37 years participated in the study. An individual subject design (ABAC) consisted of two baseline conditions and two treatment conditions: (a)  interrupted music/silence; and (b) interrupted music/tone. Each subject wore a special head device containing a series of mercury switches which activated the music/tone contingencies. This apparatus also monitored erect head position, the number of seconds during which the head was improperly postured, and the number of times the head changed position. During the interrupted music/silence condition, recorded music was contingent upon erect head position. When the head became tilted 20 degrees or more, the music ceased and was replaced with silence. When the head was improperly positioned during the music/tone condition, a 493 HZ tone automatically sounded until the head again was erected; at this time, the music stimulus resumed. Results indicated that  head control improved during the treatment conditions for four subjects. One subject seemed to respond only to the music/tone condition, and the remaining subjects showed minimal improvement in head posturing throughout the experimental conditions. Individual results and recommendations for clinical applications are included.

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