We are a group of eleven young people with intellectual disability and three music therapists. We did action research at a university. We wanted to find out how a music group might be helpful for young people with intellectual disabilities. We wanted to tell our own story and use our own words because we have a lot to say. We wanted people to read our story and to use our ideas to help young people with intellectual disabilities to have good lives. We went to twenty sessions of music research, and five more sessions of research analysis. We also did a lot of research work in between sessions.
We found out that music groups can be fun. They can also be hard work. They help us develop skills like listening and waiting. They are places where we can be independent. But music groups are also good places to practice working as a team. They can be safe places for people to express emotions. Music helps us to know people. It brings us together. Playing musical instruments can also help physical development. A good life for us would include having the chance to play music with others or to have music lessons. But it is not always easy for us to go to ordinary lessons or music groups. It might be important for young people with intellectual disability to have support from people who understand them at first. We want to be independent but we need help to develop our dreams in practical ways.
We found that doing research is fun and interesting. We were all researchers but we had different things to do. The adults had to be the organisers, setting up the research. We knew from the start the research would be about what young people think about music. The adults had done their reading and had written the literature review. The young people decided on other questions, and gathered data in lots of different ways. They also did some of the analysis, and decided on the findings of each cycle. The findings of each cycle, with more of the young people’s words, are in the appendices. Later, the adults wrote the main findings, the discussion and conclusion.
We all discussed the things we wrote along the way and at the end of the research. The adults have tried to help the young people understand what has been written. The research took a lot of time and it was hard work for everybody. To be a good researcher you need to learn research skills. It is important that young people with intellectual disabilities are not exhausted by research. They need to be able to enjoy the things they are doing. We all liked being involved in research even though it was hard work. We think that research is important and helpful. Young people should be involved in research that is about them.
We learnt that young people with intellectual disabilities can go to university. Going to university was scary at first but we got used to it and we started to enjoy it. We need to do more research to make sure universities are ready to welcome students with intellectual disabilities. We can use our research to show universities that it can be a good idea to support people with intellectual disabilities to go to university. We can also use our research show people what we can do; what we like to do; and what we want to do in the future. Most of us would like to do more music and research in future.
Rickson, D., Evans, A., Claydon, N. R., Dennis, P., Cree, D., Dovey, K., . . . Watkins, E. (2014). Active Music. New Zealand School of Music & IHC NZ. Wellington, N.Z.
New Zealand School of Music; IHC New Zealand