In March/April 2013 at my place of work our music therapy team began to develop new feedback forms to use following music therapy open group sessions. The open groups can often be large with numbers sometimes reaching 20 or more as participants, family, friends and staff attend. The forms were to record participant's changing mood, level of participation, use of instruments, musical interaction, non-musical interaction etc using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data collection. The nature of the large groups led me to feel that a simple and fast method of making a record of the obvious and primary interactions taking place in the group was required and so I developed the Shell Matrix. I offered it to the music therapy team at work and we have been trialling it alongside the feedback form over the past few months.
The concept is to be able to record a general impression of the group quickly and easily following the session taking place. This will hopefully provide a memory aid for more detailed notes as well as being a visual representation of the main dynamics and interactions of participants. There is scope for the matrix to be developed further utilising more symbols/keys to represent more detailed interactions as well as the idea of creating more than one per group in order to detail the process through the group. I hope to explore these options imminently but first felt a need to document the original concept.
How it works:
Participants are represented by small circles in a rough estimation of where they sat in the room. Names can be used if it is appropriate with the rules of confidentiality of the individual setting in question. In the following examples participants are represented by letters of the alphabet. The therapist is placed at the bottom of the matrix (remembering that this is a depiction of the entire group in one matrix so may not have enough detail to be able to document the different positions that the therapist was in).
Interactions are illustrated with lines. Straight lines for "good" interactions and zig-zags for "bad". The following example indicates that participant F interacted well with the therapist but that participant F & E did not interact well with one another. However, participant E interacted well with the therapist and with participant D, who also interacted well with the therapist.
If a participant did not interact at all the two small lines are used. If they did not interact but were still seemingly observing or listening then one small line is used. The following example indicates that participant C did not interact with peers or therapist but could have been observing or listening. Participant A might have been asleep.
To complete the matrix we need to establish participant B's interaction. The following example indicates that participant B interacted well with the therapist and with participant D.
Why the name - Shell Matrix?
If the participants all interacted well with the therapist and also with the participant sitting next to them then this is the result...
It reminded me of a scallop shell, hence the name. The examples above are simple versions of a simple device. There are many ways that this matrix can be used and other notations that can be used which I will detail soon.