In many South African schools where English is used as the language of instruction learners with a different mother tongue are accepted, yet they may experience many challenges. In this research study I investigated whether group music therapy sessions can have a positive impact on such learners in relation to particularly two of these difficulties. The first difficulty is social interaction and integration. The second difficulty is their negative attitude towards English, the school and their school work. This difficulty develops because of their weak competency in the language.
The paradigm in which this study falls is interpretive and a qualitative approach was used. A case study design was utilised. Ten music therapy sessions were offered to a group of nine grade eight boys from three different linguistic backgrounds: three English home language speakers, three Portuguese home language speakers and three siSwati home language speakers.
Music therapy offers a non-threatening environment in which group members can creatively interact. I made use of an array of techniques including improvisation, movement, song writing and musical games where group members had opportunities to express themselves in an unconventional way.
Three different sources of naturally-occurring data were used. Questionnaires were filled in by all participants before the commencement of the sessions, five video excerpts were selected from the music therapy group sessions and a focus group was held with all participants after the last session. Data was analysed according to Ansdell and Pavlicevic’s (2001) qualitative content analysis. Responses from the questionnaires and focus group and thick descriptions from the selected video excerpts were coded and categorised according to Gibb’s (2007) proposed technique of open coding.
Results generated from the analysed data indicated that, through the opportunities afforded to the group in music therapy sessions, social interaction was experienced in a novel way and integration was enhanced. Findings also indicated that, through this unique way of interacting, the attitude of some members towards English improved.
There were also indications that improvement was not across the board and individuals reacted differently to the process. A much longer process could hold far more convincing results.
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2014.