Music mediation and mental health

What score do musicians play?

Partnership research on the program of musical animation at Centre Albert-Prévost


Irina Kirchberg

June 2019
The research results will be revealed at Cégep de Saint-Laurent on 25 May 2020. If you would like to attend the event, which is free and open to everyone, please RSVP.

Between September 2018 and June 2019, a cohort of 14 instrumentalists, music students at Cégep de Saint-Laurent aged 18 to 20 years, were invited by a patron to produce musical performances at Centre psychiatrique Albert-Provost, affiliated with Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur in Montréal.


Although the members of the care team were convinced of the benefits of the arts in the healthcare environment and accepted the idea enthusiastically, it remained to imagine the prerequisites for the encounter between these young musicians and the patients.


The supervising team of music professors at Cégep de Saint-Laurent had two questions: what was the relevance of the project in the context of professional training of music students? And how did the students have to prepare before performing on this unusual stage?


Although the effects of music on the health of patients and care teams have been thoroughly researched, little work has been done, from the perspective of the sociology of work, on the conditions of “training for” and “production of” these activities by the musicians. When it comes to “orchestrating the encounter” between music and the psychiatric environment, what “score” do the performing musicians play? To answer this question, we gathered material from observation of the recruitment and training of students and analyzed 17 interviews conducted with the instrumentalists, the music teachers, and the musical mediation trainers before and after their workshops.


First, the research will reveal the pedagogical, musical, and social justification regimes mobilized by the supervisors. It will then present the musical, organizational, and relational skills required of and developed by the musicians to conduct these musical mediation activities in the healthcare environment, described from the vocational and pluri-activity points of view.



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Research team

Irina Kirchberg is a guest professor in the Faculty of Music at the Université de Montréal, where she is co-manager of the DESS in music mediation. She is also a member of the international research group Partenariat Publics de la Musique (P2M) and of the Observatoire des Médiations Culturelles (OMEC). She is the author of Panorama des pratiques de médiation de la musique au Québec (2019) and is currently conducting research on digital devices for musical mediation. Kirchberg was co-editor of the books Faire l’art. Analyser les processus de création musicale (2015) et Bourdieu et la musique. Bilan et perspectives (2019).
Auxiliaires de recherche : Émilie Adam et Audrey Gauthier.