Entering the Ambient

A Performative Collaborative Autoethnography of Music Therapists’ Improvising with Digital Music Technologies


  • Michael Viega John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University, USA
  • Victoria Druziako Brooklyn, NY, USA
  • Josh Millrod Merrick, NY, USA
  • Al Hoberman Vienna, Austria




music therapy; improvisation; digital music technology; performative collaborative autoethnography; ambient mode of being; therapeutic soundscape


Since the 1980s, there has been an interest in the clinical benefits and challenges with the use of digital music technology in music therapy, yet there is still little information about the experiential potentialities of digital music technologies from relational, psychodynamic, and ecological frameworks. The ambient mode of being presents a heuristic approach to clinical listening when using digital music technology. Performative collaborative autoethnography was utilized by a group of four music therapy clinicians who wanted to understand their shared experience of entering the ambient while improvising using digital music technologies. Seven video excerpts from six different improvisation sessions were chosen to explore this topic and its implications for being a music therapy clinician. In keeping with the values of performative collaborative autoethnography, the results and discussion of this study are presented as a dialogue between the researchers. Each group members’ experience of entering the ambient was unique, but they shared a common reverence for how they were able to create an ambient space using digital music technology, which acted as a co-agent within their group process. The group members discuss clinical implications for this research including the benefits, challenges, and the role of gender/identity when using digital music technologies.

Author Biographies

Michael Viega, John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University, USA

Michael Viega, Ph.D., LCAT, MT-BC, is an Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at Montclair State University, and a Fellow in the Association of Music and Imagery. He has published and presented internationally on a wide range of topics such as adolescent development and music therapy, popular music cultures in music therapy, therapeutic songwriting and digital technology, and arts-based research methodologies. As a music therapy clinician, he has worked extensively with children and adolescents who have experienced childhood adversity and trauma. He serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Music TherapyMusic Therapy Perspectives, and Joural of Applied Arts and Health,  Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.

Victoria Druziako , Brooklyn, NY, USA

Victoria Druziako, MA, LCAT, MT-BC, is a licensed, board-certified music therapist who specializes in working with adolescents and adults with acute mental health and substance use issues. In addition, Victoria is an active singer-songwriter and producer, and maintains a private teletherapy practice.

Josh Millrod, Merrick, NY, USA

Josh Millrod, MA, LCAT, MT-BC, is a music psychotherapist in private practice in Merrick, NY and cofounder of Therapy For Dads. He also leads a working group focused on exploring music’s role in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.

Al Hoberman , Vienna, Austria

Al Hoberman, MA, LCAT, MT-BC is a music psychotherapist based in Vienna, Austria and working in private practice internationally. His clinical and research interests include the use of internet and digital technology in music therapy, Music and Imagery, and GIM.

Photo of the four authors Michael Viega, Victoria Druziako, Josh Millrod and Al Hoberman




How to Cite

Viega, M., Druziako , V., Millrod, J., & Hoberman , A. (2023). Entering the Ambient: A Performative Collaborative Autoethnography of Music Therapists’ Improvising with Digital Music Technologies. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v23i1.3510