International Online Collaboration to Enhance Outcomes in Community-Based Rehabilitation Through Music

The Online Music Leadership Program




In this 1.5 year action research pilot study, an interprofessional team of co-researchers studied the use of online intercultural collaboration to integrate music therapy-informed activities into community-based rehabilitation (CBR) with rural families in central India. Over four cycles of action and evaluation, Australian music therapy (MT) co-researchers and Indian CBR co-researchers studied the perceived impact of MT-informed activities in CBR for CBR facilitators and participating families, and the online communication strategies and MT information that were useful. The research team identified that the integration of MT-informed activities into CBR led to a perceived increase in family motivation and engagement in CBR, enhanced connection between CBR facilitators and families, and greater enjoyment and fun for all involved. Researchers also identified some foundational MT techniques that were useful and articulated some practical considerations for online intercultural collaboration. Importantly, the research team clarified the scope of information sharing that was useful in the context of online intercultural collaboration, and the need to prioritise local expertise and resources. Learning from this study may inform other online intercultural collaborations in both music therapy and international/community development.

Correction Note:

The URL hyperlink for Willis et al. (2014) is not functional in the article and has been corrected to:

Willis, M., Watson, J., & Talmage, A. (2014). Navigating cross-cultural pathways on Rarotonga: An exploratory collaboration bringing together a music therapist a speech-language therapist, the Cook Islands Ministry of Education and a day centre for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy, 12, 58–86.

Author Biographies

Lucy Elizabeth Bolger, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Lucy Bolger has been a music therapy practitioner and scholar since graduating from the University of Melbourne in 2004. She has worked with people across the lifespan in community and institutional settings, in Australia, Bangladesh and India. Lucy has particular interest and expertise in collaborative processes in music therapy, sustainability-oriented practice, participatory music work with communities and young people, and international development work in music therapy. She is also interested in equity and access to music therapy, and how innovative approaches can support music participation for those in remote and rural communities. These interests continue to inform her practice, research and teaching, and are underpinned by a belief that all people should have access to music as a resource for health and wellbeing.

Sameer Valsangkar, Catholic Health Association of India

Dr. Sameer Valsangkar has a master’s in Public Health from USA, and an MD in Community Medicine from India. He has been working in research and public health development since 15 years. He has designed, operationalized and implemented public health projects in close collaboration with the government in several regions in India. He has conducted and directed a variety of research in occupational health, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, quality of life studies, nutrition and has published in several indexed international and national journals of repute.

Sumathy Sundar, Chennai School of Music Therapy, India

Prof. Sumathy Sundar, Ph.D., FIMC (Austria) is a senior clinician medical music therapy educator, researcher and supervisor in the field of music therapy in India. She is the founder and the Director (Academics) of Chennai School of Music Therapy Pvt. Ltd and formerly held the position of the Director and Professor at the Center for Music Therapy Education and Research, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth University, Pondicherry. 

Melissa Murphy, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Melissa Murphy is a music therapy practitioner, supervisor, educator and researcher. She has worked in mental health, aged and palliative care, but her primary interest lies in the disability sector. Melissa currently works with both children and adults with disability in the education system, community settings and in private practice drawing on her skills as a clinical music therapist, GIM practitioner and community music therapist. She is the founder of MusicSpace, a community music hub for people living in the greater Geelong and Surf coast regions in Victoria, Australia. Philosophically informed by critical and ecological theory, MusicSpace aims to foster personal and group creativity, as well as social and musical connections within the local community. She is the former National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) representative and Disability Advisor for the Australian Music Therapy Association and music therapy representative for the working group of Allied Health Professions Australia.

Photo of authors Bolger, Valsangkar, Sundar and Murphy




How to Cite

Bolger, L. E., Valsangkar, S., Sundar, S., & Murphy, M. (2023). International Online Collaboration to Enhance Outcomes in Community-Based Rehabilitation Through Music: The Online Music Leadership Program. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 23(2).