An Exploration in Performance Therapy

The project is made up by three different sections:

  1. Four tours at the Museum of Fine Arts

  2. Thirteen compositions inspired by the tours

  3. A ten track CD titled: “My Ship.”

An exploration in music therapy was inspired by many years as a social worker, as well as my early experiences at the Global Jazz Institute. I decided to make "Zero Gravity", culture, collaborations and theory my four areas of study after orientation week. 

Danilo Perez named our classroom Zero Gravity, which means a place without rules or judgment, where music can absorb all of our body. Through BGJI I have collaborated with over ten different cultures while creating this music. Patricia Zarate taught me the importance of culture and collaboration, but also showed me the importance to being theory driven.

Zero Gravity

“The Danilo Perez Workshop“ was a class where we explored methods of improvisation inspired by Danilo's experiences playing with the great Wayne Shorter. We transcribed our own speech and performed it on our instruments. In one class, we accompanied movies together in different groups to create music for the moment. Danilo also taught us the relationship between music and culture. In many cases music is  connected to movement and dance and therefore can easier be learned that way.




Culture has had impact since music existed. To give one example, the rise of Jazz music thanks to slavery. Music first was created with purpose, whether it was for communication or enjoyment, it still built culture. Patricia Zarate believes that it is very important to pay attention to a clients culture when performing therapy. Playing European music in Panama will not give the clients the same responses. As a performer, I wanted to apply the same theory and pay attention to the culture of my audience. Through this project, I explore culture related to the artworks presented in the tour. This made me research different periods and cultures of music. 




At the Global Jazz Institute I have been encouraged to collaborate with many different people and cultures. India, Asia and South America to name a few. I decided that I wanted to collaborate with an already existing therapy program. It helps me to see the impact of the music if the staff and clients already have a relationship. 

I found out that the Museum of Fine Arts organizes themed tours for individuals with disabilities. I contacted the director of the Accessibility department at the museum, Hanna Goodwin and arranged a meeting. 

After exchanging ideas, we scheduled two different tours with two separate groups. 

Tour one with the theme Seascapes for adults with cognitive disabilities. Tour number two with the theme Clocks was for a group of seniors with memory loss. For each tour I would be presented with four art works and a description. My job was to compose music for the art work to enhance the visitors experience. 

The Seascape tour was such a success that it got requested to come back with other groups, and a third tour got added with the theme gatherings for a group with visual impairment. 




On a trip to Panama, I had the pleasure to play and study with the great music therapist Colin Andrews. Colin is a professor at Laurier University in Toronto as well as at the music therapy diploma program in Panama. In my interview with Mr. Andrews, he talked about the Nordoff-Robbins method. This is a branch of music therapy where improvisation, themed composition, and documentation play big roles. I decided to use this theory on my own music in the composing and recording process.