Monday, October 13, 2014

Trauma-related dissociation as a factor affecting musicians’ memory for music: Some possible solutions

Inette Swart, Caroline van Niekerk, Woltemade explores trauma-related dissociation, identified as a factor contribution to memory problems in this report and extensive study about the influence of trauma on musicians. They looked into musicians onstage, participants during practice and lessons, and temporary amnesia for music due to severe trauma (such as PTSD -- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

The researchers investigated on and discussed the nature of memory function in the musician, optimal performance and focus, trauma and dissociation and the resultant ways in which it interferes with memory. The effects of trauma on the unconscious mind, nature of associations, its working memory, and also, the similarity of states of optimal concentration and pathological dissociation. These effects are discussed to potentially enhance understanding of how trauma can negatively affect musicians’ memory. Observations are made by extensive qualitative research survey, including students’ and teachers’ self-reports, and narratives of three musicians participating as case studies. In order to search for effective solutions, the researchers offered promising intervention strategies, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming, Eye Movement Integration, hypnosis, body therapies, and movement.

This article provides detailed information on trauma and how it affects the musicians’ music-making, focusing much on memory during music performance. What I found interesting was that, they did not focus much on the study and examples of the collection of data. The author stated that, “the study is also exploratory in nature,” (119)  making the assumption that the reader understands exactly, the procedure of this research.

The paper relies heavily on information based on other journals and researches. It compiles extensive literature and hence, providing the reader a vast amount of facts and possible solutions for trauma. In addition to short literature reviews of many researches, the authors also explore what dissociation and trauma is, while defining it and what happens. The authors explored in depth, of the possible therapeutic solutions, such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and EMI (Eye Movement Integration), hypnosis, body therapies and the role of movement (focusing on Dalcroze methods), with the emphasis on future directions of this research.

As mentioned, this research seems to be much more of a factual paper based on others’ researches rather than explaining the authors’ own research. It quickly explained the methodology but did not reveal results. I’m more interested to see their findings based on the results they received from the qualitative research (especially the results from the questionnaires), and the data they received from the three case studies (in which they did not cover in depth). Instead of a research paper focusing on their participants, it would be a much more successful paper that focused on others’ researches, and providing an analysis paper based on literature. Perhaps, using the participants may not have deemed necessary, or useful as information in another paper.

Works cited:
Swart, Inette., van Niekerk, Caroline and Hartman, Woltemade. “Trauma-related dissociation as a factor affecting musicians’ memory for music: Some possible solutions.” Australian Journal of Music Education (2010). Nedlands, Australia. 2:117-134. 

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