Journal Article

Music Research with Children and Youth with Disabilities and Typically Developing Peers: A Systematic Review

Laura S. Brown and Judith A. Jellison

in Journal of Music Therapy

Published on behalf of American Music Therapy Association

Volume 49, issue 3, pages 335-364
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0022-2917
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 2053-7395 | DOI:
Music Research with Children and Youth with Disabilities and Typically Developing Peers: A Systematic Review

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Background: Systematic reviews of research provide pertinent information to both practitioners and researchers. While there are several recent reviews of music research and children with specific disabilities (primarily autism), there is no current review of music research with children with a wide variety of disabilities.

Objective: The aim of the current study is to identify and systematically review music research with children and youth published in peer reviewed journals for the years 1999 through 2009. Research questions focused on participant characteristics; research purposes, methodologies, and findings; as well as the presence of ideas from special education policies, and practices. We also asked how results have changed from those from an earlier review (Jellison, 2000).

Methods: Using computer and hand-searches, we identified 45 articles that met our criteria for inclusion. Once identified, through a process of consensus we analyzed articles based on criteria, categories, and codes used in the earlier review. Additionally we analyzed measurement instruments and effectiveness of interventions as reported by the authors.

Results: Primary findings show a large majority of studies were experimental with most reporting effective or partially effective interventions, particularly for social variables. Compared to the earlier review, increases were found for participants with autism and for reports including ideas from special education. Percentages of articles measuring generalization and examining high-incident disability populations (specific learning disabilities) were low.

Conclusions: The findings from this review and comparisons to the earlier review reveal important implications for practices with children with autism and preparation of researchers to design and conduct studies in inclusive music settings.

Keywords: music; children; disability; inclusion

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