This article outlines a summary for an experiment on the effect of music therapy on patients suffering from depression. In particular, the authors intend to focus on improvisational music therapy techniques as these techniques have been studied very little in the past. In fact the article first points out that the study of the effect of music therapy on depression is its infancy, yet deserves much attention. In the few (5) trials outlined in the review "Music therapy for depression" (found here: http://mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD004517/frame.html) the authors find that although music therapy seems to be highly effective in the treatment of depression, the trials are of low quality because of the small number of participants and poor methodology.
The authors of this proposed study believe it to be of good design and intend a high number of participants to be involved (85). In total, 35 patients between the ages of 18-50 will receive 20 one hour sessions improvisational music therapy plus standard care whilst the 50 remaining patients will receive standard care only.
The study aims to find if improvisational music therapy effects depressed patients in the following ways: reduce levels of depression, increase quality of life and reduce EEG asymmetry. If music therapy is found to be effective, the researchers intend to study the recordings of the music used (and improvised) to find if there is a correlation between specific musical features and their effect on depressed patients.
As this study is currently underway, it difficult to evaluate. The researchers intentions of a well designed study are supported with excellent methodology, a decent sample size and the potential for many threads of statistical analysis.
As a person who is indirectly effected by clinical depression (my wife suffers from severe depression) I will be waiting for the results of this study. Hopefully they will find what they expect to find: that improvisational music therapy has a positive effect on depressed patients. If they are able to provide enough details I may be able to play a role in the rehabilitation of someone I care deeply for.