Monthly Archives: May 2016

Guided Imagery in Music


A Mandala created as part of the Guided Imagery in Music Course

As part of my PhD course I recently attended Level 1 training in Guided Imagery in Music, with Professor Leslie Bunt at The University of the West of England, further details available at:

Guided Imagery in Music is a particular branch of music therapy which focuses on receptive responses accompanied by a therapist.

GIM has a lot to offer the music therapy community. Not only do we need live improvised music making, we also need recorded music. Many of us use recordings in our clinical work, but how aware are we really of the techniques required to use them? GIM should be part of all music therapists training, it seems to be such an intuitive step in the development of the profession of music therapy.

The training involves listening to programmes of classical music. Beginning with a gentle start of listening whilst doing other activities such as drawing Mandalas (Fincher, 1991) or writing a narrative, developing into listening in deep states of relaxation whilst being closely attuned to by a therapist.

This is the first time that a Guided Imagery in Music course has been run at The University of the West of England. Receptive therapy in music is like the missing jigsaw piece in the music therapy spectrum, and it feels absolutely right for GIM to have a higher profile and an increasing number of therapists are starting to recognise its value.

GIM was originated by  Bonny (2002) following an epiphany experience in a prayer meeting, playing the violin, Bonny started to research the therapeutic benefits of listening to classical recorded music. Sessions in GIM start with a carefully controlled induction in which the therapist first finds out about the individual’s life, and creates a relaxation activity that facilitates the ‘traveller’ to enter an altered state. This is not strange as it sounds, since ‘altered states’ are a natural part of our everyday lives. The moments between waking and sleeping, or when we day-dream are all ‘altered states’ (Meyer, 2007).

The imagery and amount of direction is carefully considered by the therapist, designed to aid therapeutic process. The traveller is invited to visualise imagery, such as a pathway, a boat or a house.

GIM has two more levels in which the therapists learn to keep the travellers safe, before they can practice. One of the aspects that interests me is the analysis of sessions, looking in close detail at the musical analysis of a piece of classical music and then tracking the journeys it creates. I love this sort of analysis looking at small details in music. Which is part of the reason for doing a PhD.

On a personal note, I had one experience of travelling on the course, I was very surprised at the profundity of the experience, and I am still thinking about it two weeks later…

“Mandala created with sea-glass, pebbles, rocks, shells, toy instruments, lights and drawing”.



Bonny, H.L. (2002) Music and Consciouness: The Evolution of Guided Imagery and Music: Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers

Fincher, S.F. (1991) Creating Mandalas for Insight: Healing and Self-Expression. Boston: Shambhala.

Meyer, E. (2007) Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind. London: Bantam Books.











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Filed under Academic, Guided Imagery in Music, jazz, learning, music teaching, Music Therapy, PhD, Research Methods, Spiritual, Synaestheisa, Uncategorized

Art Work in Progress

Currently working on drawings which reflect Synaesthetic experiences. Listening to music and drawing what I see. Up and coming exhibition at Pewsey Tea Rooms June 4th to Saturday 6th July … Here is a taster …


Saxophone Timbre


Bass and Voice


Body and Notations

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Essay, Art Work or Hypertext?


Creating essays which are ALSO art works.

Trying to create a beautiful book is a relief in a world where we are so often virtual and on-line. It was a pleasure to create a physical object and to try to use that to communicate a creative heart.

As part of the taught module in ‘psycho-social’ studies, at the University of the West of England, I wrote a 6000 word assignment which included a reflective portfolio and micro research project. My aim was to create something beautiful, which was both aesthetically pleasing, and academically sound. This was instigated by the reflexive aspect of the assignment, being asked to express a personal research journey. I thus fell to using music<>visual aspects of reflection. This was the first ‘physical’ object I had been asked to produce towards a PhD, and it seemed important to express something tangibly creative through the act of making.

I was inspired by the idea of artists books, which are art works in the form of a book, made as small runs or one-off objects. I wanted my essay to give the reader a sensory experience of musical synaesthesia, or coloured hearing. This was done by the traditional practice of incorporating prints, on separate pages:


Extract: The Magic Picture

In addition, I wanted to give the experience of the simultaneous act of images combined with text. I did this by creating a hypertext, layering graphics underneath the words though out the document. This was inspired by the music therapist Stige (2002) who discusses the idea of different ways of collecting and viewing data such as, music, diaries, poems and drawings. In combining visual and text together I was revealing my own neurological difference, that the first thought is music <> visual and then it becomes words. My thought processes through out the module, involved thinking about highly coloured shapes which were also aspects of experience in improvised music. I wanted to try to convey this through the making of an artists book.

The next stage was to take some of the actual pieces of the art work and tie them onto the  book:


The art tags on the spine

I used all of the spare pieces on the books, so they  became merged with the art works.

The final aspect was to use the paper craft technique of applying layers of paper on top of the page using masking tape.  I also played with the formatting of the words.


The dancing shapes

The question remains what will my final PhD look like?

I’ve no idea what so ever!


Stige, B. (2002) Cultured-Centered Music Therapy. Gilsum NH: Barcelona Publishers


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