Introduction:In this chapter I discuss means of fostering inclusive music making experiences as demonstrated in the practices of a music therapy rock band, the Smooth Criminals. The band uses many adaptive strategies to mitigate physical barriers to participation that may be useful in other music learning spaces. The band’s practices provide means of identifying and negotiating social barriers deeply rooted within popular and informal learning practices.
Abstract: This case study explores the means and meanings of participation in a music therapy rock band for young adult members. The band, the Smooth Criminals, was comprised of five young adult members diagnosed with developmental disabilities and four adult assistants, including three music therapists/interns and myself as a volunteer. Data collection included: video recordings of weekly rehearsals and three concert; field notes; interviews with young adult members, their family members, and the other adult assistants; and a researcher journal. Through data analysis using organizational and axial coding, three major themes emerged: (1) young adult members use the band as a space to play with and construct personal identity, (2) participation in the band afford the young adult members and their family members a space for community and mutual care, and (3) adult assistants as acting as embellishers and providing a safety net. Findings suggest the experiences hold mostly social and identity-based meanings for young adults and that actions of the young adults are facilitated by self-adaptations and help from adult assistants. The discussion explores possible implications of this study for music education and music education research practices.
Keywords: Developmental disabilities, music therapy, popular music, adaptive practices, inclusion
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