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Synchronisation/Synchronization. Musiktherapie bei Kindern mit Autismus – Music Therapy with Children on the Autistic Spectrum. [DVD]

br2008_094Schumacher, K. & Calvet, C. (2008). Synchronisation/Synchronization. Musiktherapie bei Kindern mit Autismus – Music Therapy with Children on the Autistic Spectrum. [DVD]. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Karin Schumacher is a very experienced music therapist and researcher working with persons in the autistic spectrum. She published several books and articles. Recently she published a DVD with filmed excerpts form music therapy that illustrates the core concepts she developed during her work as a music therapist and a researcher in music therapy.

The DVD (available in German and English) contains several chapters. “In search of shared time” deals with the analysis of intra- and inter-synchronised moments. The former refers to the correspondence of time-related structures within the human body, while the latter describes the affective attunement between two persons.

A chapter by Manfred Hüneke shows how intersynchronisation in the music can be presented in graphic notation. Another chapter, by Petra Kugel, shows how the Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) can be used to present the intra- and intersynchronisation in terms of movement.

Insights from developmental psychology as well as infancy and brain research and attachment theory are added in separate chapters. One chapter is addressed to the intra- and intersynchronisation during a rehearsal of Herbert von Karajan with music from Robert Schumann, Antonio Vivaldi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig von Beethoven.

Intra- and intersynchronisation runs through all chapters. In the excerpts from music therapy we can hear how isolation changes in intersynchronisation by means of rhythm, dynamics and form. A relationship is established by the child and the music therapist. This happens because the scratching of the child’s teeth is integrated in musical meter, or for instance the forward and backward movement of the child is matched with pitch, melody, and musical timing.

We see how the synchronisation through music opens up the isolated child by means of movement, sound, laughs and eye contact to the environment. It also becomes clear when there is synchronisation and when there is not and how the music therapist does an excellent job in trying to establish it. The moment where the child is aware of the music therapist and starts imitating, or is playing with its own timing to experience what happens and by doing this enlarges the musical repertoire is fascinating. All these examples are impressive and the explanation by Karin Schumacher, Claudine Calvet and their colleagues is very clear.

The attempt to illuminate the core concept in the graphic score of the musical interaction, in the movements of the child while making music, and in musical situations outside music therapy is most interesting. This form of triangulation gives information of what is happening from several perspectives and thus enlarges our understanding.

In the rehearsals of Herbert von Karajan the intrasynchronisation is seen in the cellist whose body movements match the music he is playing. Intra – and intersynchronisation is seen also during a duet in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and the violin concert of Ludwig van Beethoven. Although I am reserved in equalising interactions between musicians with interactions between music therapist and client, both concepts can be used here, even if the interactions differ from each other.

The DVD of Karin Schumacher and her colleagues is a very good supplement to her books and articles. It can help students especially for educational purposes to see and hear these processes of intra- and intersynchronisation. The DVD is a good example for colleagues how to illustrate their work and to expand their work into other domains.

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