Volume 14 (1) 2022 – Article (first published on 30 July 2020)
Who’s afraid of Christian Wolff? Exploring experimental music on an acute inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit
In this practice-based article, the author summarises how he explored experimental music with creative arts-curious adolescent patients to help improve interpersonal interactions, impulse control, compliance, and attentional needs. Informed by the American composer of experimental classical music Christian Wolff, the author constructed an original clinical experimental music composition, Burdock Variations and Other Wolff, to be recreated in music therapy group settings on an acute psychiatric unit.Unexpectedly, the results of the experimental music group therapy experience revealed that (a) while aesthetic needs and development were not part of the patients’ treatment team goals, the experimental musical experience played an indispensable role in cultivating, shaping, and meeting the aesthetic needs of each patient in a safe therapeutic environment, (b) due to challenging the teens’ aesthetic system (Curreri, 2013) by exploring new and unusual sound practices together, the therapeutic relationship that had been developing in more standard music and other creative arts interventions deepened between the teens and the author, (c) the Burdock Variations and Other Wolff exploration is an advanced music therapy intervention that should be introduced after more standard music therapy interventions have been explored, and (d) the Burdock Variations and Other Wolff exploration should only be introduced to the adolescent patients that are able to remain focused, curious, and attentive.
adolescents, acute inpatient psychiatry, experimental music, Christian Wolff, re-creative experience, aesthetics
Enrico Curreri is a creative arts psychotherapist working on both child and adolescent acute psychiatric units at Elmhurst Hospital Center. His clinical research is broadly focused on non-ordinary creative arts experiences associated with openness, inquiry, uncertainty, and discovery, as well as spontaneity, fallibility, contingency, and variability. [email@example.com]