Vibrational Music Therapy with D/deaf clients


  • Russ C. Palmer Andante research group, Tampere University, Finland
  • Stina Ojala Department of Computing, University of Turku, Finland



D/deaf clients perceive music through their bodies. The music therapist needs various methods to appreciate these sensations. It is necessary to examine the instruments from a vibrational perspective. Also, listening to the client is more important than speaking. This article focuses on how non-verbal methods are more appropriate when working with clients who have a hearing loss. Vibrosensoric approach to music combined with touch-based communication methods (social-haptic communication) enhances a positive client response. As a deafblind music therapist, musical vibrations play an important role for me as well as for the client during a therapy process. Background noise and spoken language can sometimes mask the perception of musical tones from different types of instruments. Speech with music within GIM sessions renders the client unable to follow either music or storyline. This distorts the sounds in hearing aid devices. Therefore, the instrument selection within the therapy session needs to be considered from a vibratory aspect. Musical tones from the instruments can be felt in different parts of the body. In this case, the focus is not on how an instrument sounds but more on the vibrational sensations it produces.

Author Biographies

Russ C. Palmer, Andante research group, Tampere University, Finland

Russ C. Palmer, International music therapist and vibroacoustic therapy practitioner. He is part of the Andante/Social-haptic Communication research group at Tampere University, Finland. He is one of the developers of social-haptic communication and the use of haptices in everyday life with his wife Dr. Riitta Lahtinen. He is a singer-songwriter and musician who has published a music CD and a DVD. He has been involved in the development of a portable music floor known as the Tac-Tile Sounds SystemTM with University of Sheffield. His academic publications focus on musical perception, vibrations and hearing aid devices as well as social-haptic communication and its variations. In music therapy his main focus is with dual-sensory impaired clients and he encourages people who are losing their hearing and sight to experience and feel musical vibrations. He gives international presentations as a hearing and visually impaired music therapist and wears two cochlear implants. He was advisor for two EU-projects: SUITCEYES (smart clothes) and the haptice dictionary within ERASMUS. For more information:

Stina Ojala, Department of Computing, University of Turku, Finland

Stina Ojala, PhD, bioinformatics, speech scientist. She is a researcher at the Department of Computing, University of Turku, Finland. Her academic interests include speech, signing, languages, linguistics, music, acoustics and vibrations. She is also a speech-to-text interpreter for people with hearing lossor deafblindness. She has published a wide range of articles on speech, language, communication and accessibility.

Photo of authors Russ Palmer and Stina Ojala


Additional Files



How to Cite

Palmer, R. C., & Ojala, S. (2022). Vibrational Music Therapy with D/deaf clients. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 22(3).