Project Title: 

Music Interventions for Children and Families: Social-Emotional Development and Well-Being

Funding detail: 
NEA Research Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Principal Investigator: 
Miriam Lense, PhD
Project summary: 

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will conduct studies in partnership with Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Opera, and VSA Tennessee, the state organization on the arts and disability. One set of studies include a randomized-waitlist control trial of a community-based music program (named SeRenade) designed to foster active engagement of parents and children with autism through shared musical experiences; follow up studies aim to test whether child and parent outcomes vary by treatment type: individual parent-child music training only, SeRenade only, and combining individual training with the SeRenade program. Separate studies include a national survey of music engagement by families with and without autistic children, and a study that highlights the impact of psychoeducational songwriting for the well-being of parents with children who have developmental disabilities. VUMC will host a quarterly Music Research Forums to promote the development and refinement of the Lab studies, as well as design a publicly available, manualized music-based curriculum for children with developmental disabilities and their parents.

The research agenda will address the following research questions:

  • What are the social and emotional benefits of a therapeutic music program for children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and for their parents?;
  • What are the mechanism of action and group dynamics by which music engagement improves social and emotional well-being and builds empathy and acceptance among families with and without ASD?; and
  • How does musical engagement differ in a large, national sample including families of children with and without developmental, medical, and mental health conditions?
Other Key Personnel: 
  • Pablo Juárez, MEd
  • Mark Wallace, PhD
  • Elizabeth May Dykens, PhD

For more information on this Lab, see their Research Lab webpage.