Music Therapy with the J-Play

Music as therapy.

More and more teachers and therapists are using J-Play to integrate music into their programs. By sharing the practice of music, they help their patients or students find a way to express their creativity, connect with others and gain confidence.

Pauline Ricard, a recent graduate of the DU in Music Therapy at the Faculty of Medicine in Nantes, wrote her memoir on new musical technologies and their contribution as a music therapy tool for Alzheimer's patients.

Having loaned the J-Play from the Bordeaux Mériadeck library, she took advantage of the instrument's versatility to conduct group sessions with an elderly public at the Alzheimer's center.

Her objective was clear: to encourage communication and interaction between participants by exploring musical creation with the J-Play. By inviting her patients to discover tactile sensations while creating sounds, working on triggering emotions and helping them to verbalize them, Pauline found that J-Play enabled them to reinforce the correspondence between the mental image of an instrument and the production of sound.

Her thesis, from which we have selected a few extracts for you, gives a detailed overview of her experience and the feelings of her patients.


As she begins her session, Pauline's patients are quickly intrigued by the J-Play's aestheticism: "It's fun, it's soft", "Does it sound the same?" while pointing to the acoustic instruments. She is fascinated by their ability to assimilate a technology with which they are not familiar, some of them no longer even making the connection with their own objects and their destination, or even their own reflection in the mirror.

After letting them explore visually and explaining how J-Play can be used to create music in a playful, interactive way, Pauline chooses Massive Attack's "Teardrop" from the list of tracks in the app's library and launches the creation process with everyone:

I encourage each participant to touch and explore the sensitive areas of J-Play. I let the playlist play at a very, very low volume. I guide them and test all the pads and sounds with them.

I propose a game: M.P plays soft melodies and chooses the theme of acoustic piano sounds, and I record the theme on the iPad. Mrs C chooses to explore the Guitar Pad and its electric sounds. Usually very averse to powerful sounds, I mistakenly think she'll go for the piano as well, but her choice is quite different. She tells me she loves the feel of the yellow rubber lines representing the guitar strings. She seems to be recovering her impulsive energy to invest in this new object. I suggest that she try it out without and then with M.P.'s recording, and then I add her improvisation to the recording.

M.D and Mme Ba explore rhythms, one with the sounds of acoustic drums and the other with the sounds of congas on the Drum Pad. Mr.B and Ms. M create harmonic sounds with the Key Pad, which contains pre-configured keys for playing a fixed scale. I just make sure that each musical contribution is valued and integrated into the whole. I then play them a recording of their joint creation. Mrs. C thinks it's "great", but I suggest they discuss their group experience. M.P, with less verbal stereotyping than usual, manages to make a clear statement: "We're coping pretty well".


"This music therapy session highlights how the use of the J-Play tool can facilitate engagement and interaction between residents, while providing a space for expression and communication within the group. M.P expressed his joy at producing a sound known to him (the piano) by his own means. It seems that this feeling of pleasure, and the verbalization of feelings, is reinforced by the fact that he has bypassed the failure that might have occurred if I had presented him with a standard keyboard or a piano (there's one in the big living room where he is all the time and he has never tried to play it)."

The tactile and auditory experience actively engaged their senses, helping to maintain their attention and enhance cognitive focus. I've also noticed that, despite offering a wide range of sounds, the residents sometimes opted for the acoustic tones of the digital instruments, and this creative exploration was directed towards the creation of less complex sounds.

New technologies offer the possibility of creating interesting links between mental images of traditional acoustic instruments and the ability to produce the sound of these instruments. Here are a few links that can be established in mental representations: The various J-Play Pads can faithfully reproduce the sounds of traditional acoustic instruments such as piano, guitar or drums. This sonic similarity can therefore make virtual instruments familiar and accessible to those with prior experience of acoustic versions.

J-Play offers tactile interaction similar to that of acoustic instruments. Users can physically interact with the tactile interface to create music, which can reinforce mental associations with traditional instruments. This is coupled with an integrated visual experience, allowing residents to see graphic representations of instruments and notes. This can help reinforce the correspondence between the mental image of an instrument and the production of sound.

If you too would like to engage your patients or students in musical practice with J-Play, we invite you to sign up for our dedicated program and browse lesson ideas here.

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