An Ethnographic Study into the Musical Interaction of a Young Man with an Intellectual Disability and his Music Teacher

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Following a brief literature review in the field of music and intellectual disabilities, this auto-ethnographic study contemplates and analyses the musical interaction of a young man, G, who has a diagnosis of Down’s syndrome, intellectual disability and a visual impairment, and myself, his music teacher. Video footage of weekly music sessions was accumulated over the course of one year, and subsequently transcribed for analysis. The communicative function of musical improvisation in the initial stages of the relationship is deliberated, before examining the effectiveness of an alternative notation system which was conceived and implemented. The learning profile of individuals with Down’s syndrome is discussed in relation to the content and direction of the session and resources prepared. The contribution of the music sessions to the consolidation of social skills is proposed, as well as implications for increased clarity and breadth of speech. My contribution to sessions is critically reflected upon in addition to a reflexive appraisal of my own preconceptions and attitudes. Implications for further research are discussed as well as the contribution this study makes to the literature on music and intellectual disabilities.
    Date of Award10 Oct 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorKarl Nunkoosing (Supervisor)


    • intellectual disability
    • microanalysis
    • musical development
    • ethnography

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