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The Use of Guitar in Music Therapy

Author : Jonathon Oden

The Use of Guitar in Music Therapy
ISBN : 9781937440411

A comprehensive examination of the guitar’s prominent place within the field of music therapy. Music therapy students with little or no guitar-playing experience, as well as practicing professional therapists, may find it to be a practical and valuable resource. Part one of the book introduces the reader to historical and important functional information about the instrument, and describes how to play the guitar with proficiency and versatility. Parts two and three address clinical uses of guitar-playing by therapists and clients. In addition to reviewing guitar references within the music therapy literature, creative and innovative techniques are provided which will allow clinicians to take advantage of the instrument’s wide range of adaptability. Examples are given that demonstrate ways in which therapists can use guitar to accompany songs and improvisations, as well as to make guitar-playing accessible to clients of varying physical and cognitive abilities. Clinical uses of traditional guitar playing, alternate tunings, and adaptive devices and accessories are discussed.

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Table of Contents






Pitch Abbreviations

List of Figures

List of Tables                                                                                                                                                     



Prevalence of the Use of Guitar in Music Therapy

Advantages of the Guitar                          

Guitar in Certain Settings

Use of Recordings



Chapter 1: History of the Instrument     5

Early Stringed Instruments     5

The Guitar     6

Summary     8


Chapter 2: Music for the Guitar    9

Classical-Style Guitar     9

Jazz Guitar     10

Other Guitar Styles     11

Summary     12


Chapter 3: Using the Guitar     13

Parts of the Guitar     13

Neck     14

Body     15

Strings     17

Purchasing a Guitar     18

How to Position the Guitar    19

Standard Tuning Methods     21

How to Replace Strings     25

Removing Old Strings     25

Attaching New Strings     26

Maintenance     28

Summary     29


Chapter 4: Playing Guitar Notation     31

How to Sound the Guitar     31

Plucking Hand     31

Fretting Hand and Arm     35

Reading Guitar Notation     36

Standard Guitar Notation     36

Tablature     41

Performance Markings     43

Chord Charts     51

Fretting Chords     53

Open Chords     54

Bar Chords     56

Lead Sheets     60

Becoming Familiar With Playing Chords in Different Keys     62

Summary     66


Chapter 5: Playing Guitar in Styles     67

General Techniques     67

Introduction to Playing in Different Styles     73

Country     73

Rock     75

Hard Rock/Heavy Metal     77

Blues    78

Jazz     85

Reggae     87

Funk     89

Flamenco    89

Summary     91




Chapter 6: Song Accompaniment by Therapist     95

Addressing Communication Skills     95

Anecdotes     95

Summary     102


Chapter 7: Playing Scales and Accompanying Improvisations 103

Playing Pentatonic Scales     103

Anecdote of Use of Scales     110

Bass Accompaniments     113

Accompanying Improvisations on Other Instruments     118

Accompanying Piano     118

Accompanying Harmonica     119

Anecdotes of Accompanying Other Instruments     119

Summary     121


Chapter 8: Adaptations for Clinical Use     123

Voicing Open Tunings     123

Playing Blues Riff in Open Tunings     125

Capos     125

Summary     126




Chapter 9: General Considerations     129

Client Guitar Playing in Music Therapy     129

Type of Guitar to Use     129

Summary     131


Chapter 10: Client Playing in Traditional Ways     133

Guitar Instruction     133

            Structuring Guitar Instruction     133

            Learning Chords     137

            Learning TAB     138

            Learning Traditional Notation     139

            Anecdote of Guitar Instruction     139

Summary     140


Chapter 11: Assisted Playing     141

Positioning the Guitar     141

Forming Chords     142

Strumming     143

Level of Assistance     143

Anecdotes     144

Summary     148


Chapter 12: Alternate Tunings     149

Open Tunings     149

Barring with Open Tunings     149

Anecdotes of Use of Open Tunings     152

Monochord Tuning     155

Anecdote of Use of Monochord Tuning     156

Other Alternate Tunings     156

3-for-1 Tuning     157

Adhesive Labeling for the 3-for-1 Tuning Method     158

Anecdotes of Use of 3-for-1 Tuning     159

Summary     161


Chapter 13: Devices and Accessories     163

Picks     163

Traditional Picks     163

Adapted Picks     164

Slides     166

Nontraditional Slide Playing     167

Adhesive Labels     168

Use of Partial Capos for Open Pentatonic Tunings     169

Fretting Devices     174

Electronic Effects     174

Anecdotes     176

Summary     182


Chapter 14: Group Guitar Playing     183

Small Groups     183

Larger Groups     183

Summary     185


Works Cited and Consulted     187



A: Glossary of Guitar Terms

B: Strumming Patterns

C: Open Tuning Charts

D: Muscle Groups and Movements Involved in Guitar Playing