The IMCAP® is a population based, music-centered assessment profiling system targeting specific  areas of musical responsiveness as they pertain to musical interactions. The IMCAP’s goal is to create a Musical-Emotional Profile for each child being assessed. In essence, the IMCAP is basically painting a musical portrait of the child.

Although the IMCAP® is a music-centered based assessment, each of the seven levels of musical responsiveness are based on social-emotional development and are consistent with the DIR®/Floortime™ Model, Jean Piaget and Margaret Mahler.

Each level of musical responsiveness are being assessed within the context of interactive musical play between the therapist/s and the child, while observing the child through various modes of musical interaction (instruments, voice, movement, & gestures). Each level is evaluated based on the duration and quality of the child’s musical responsiveness within the context of music play, and, the type of the support (i.e. visual cues, verbal, gestural cues, high affect, etc.) that the therapist utilizies to assist the child in a particular musical area.

Seven levels of Musical Responsiveness:

  1. Musical awareness: the awareness that the child displays of the music and any of its facets (elements); how and if the child processes, on any level observable, the music as a whole and/or specific elements.
  2. Musical (self) regulation: the child’s ability to remain calm, interested and available during musical interactions over a wide range of affects and emotions; how the child self soothes and takes in the sights and sounds in the musical environment; the ability to use sensory modulation during musical play
  3. Musical mutuality/engagement & forming relationships: the child’s ability to relate (the quality of the relatedness) to the music and therapist through a range of emotion based on a variety of musical elements (i.e. dynamics, tempo, etc.) through various modes of interacting (instruments, voice, movement and gesture)
  4. Musical communicativeness and purposeful interactions: the child’s ability to initiate musical ideas, open and close circles of musical interaction, responding to musical cues (call and response, give and take interplay, etc.)
  5. Intentional interactions and musical problem-solving: the child’s ability to problem solve musically, in the context of the musical interaction, such as imitating dynamic and tempo changes, melodic ideas, and adapting playing to meter changes.
  6. Musical interrelatedness: the child’s ability to connect musical ideas with thetherapist in the context of the musical interaction through various and preferred mode/s (instrumental, vocal, movement and/or gestures).
  7. Range of musical expressiveness and creative thinking: the child’s ability to initiate musical changes in the context of the musical interaction, such as initiating changes in tempo, dynamics, etc. in addition, with children who are verbal, initiating musical ideas can also be displayed in lyrical content.




About drjohnmtbc

John A. Carpente, PhD, MT-BC, LCAT, NRMT, Assistant Professor in Music and Music Therapy at Molloy College, is the Founder and Executive Dir

21 responses »

  1. Abigail says:

    This is awesome John. Such a need for the profession. When I was working on my research the lack of such an assessment was an issue that came up over and over again. Kudos to you.

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hey Abigail.
      great hearing from you. When I have it all put together I would be more then happy to foward it to you- i would love to hear you feedback!
      Hope all is well,

  2. cheryl says:

    great work! music is an amazing form of communication. i’m very excited for you and would love to know more!

  3. Michelle Lasco says:

    hey john!
    Other than the long term care facility in smithtown I am working with adults with developmental disabilities. This is a great reference for the work I do with them. Thank you for being inspiring.

  4. Karen Goodman says:

    Hi John,

    Nice extension of the Nordoff-Robbins scales within the context of Greenspan !

    I analyze several children in this way in my book,Music Therapy Groupwork with Special Needs Children: The Evolving Process (2007-Charles C. Thomas) . See chapter three.

    Karen Goodman

  5. Nancy Lonich says:

    I am currently in the Master’s of Neurological Music Therapy program at Colorado State. I was privledged to attend your workshop at the Pittsburgh AMTA conference. I learned so much and would love to have the assessment profile. The enthusiasm you put into your work and this field was wonderful to watch! Thank you!

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi Nancy,
      Thanks so much for your words- greatly appreciated! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the CMTE.
      I’m still working on the the IMCAP-NDD, preparing it for publication- putting together the protocals, rationale and scoring devices.When it’s completed I would be more then happy to share it.
      All the best,

  6. vern says:

    I know that this is assessment was created for working with children but it reads like it could really work well as an assessment for adults as well. Do you have any thoughts on the ways that it might be adapted (if at all) for working with adults? It feels pretty universal and could be a useful guideline for assessing music-based therapy interactions.

    I too would be interested in the entire assessment profiling system when you have completed it.

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi Vern,
      Thanks so much for your question. I was just talking about this very question in one of my classes!
      I think you’re right. I too have felt that the IMCAP-NDRC does apply to a wide range of populations/ages. It’s dealing with relating and communicating. In addition, I would say that for the IMCAP-NDRC to be an effective tool across populations, depends greatly on the orientation and philosophical underpinnings of the therapist. The IMCAP-NDRC attempts to evaluate the quality of the musical interactions between therapist and client within the context of musical play. That being said, it’s (IMCAP-NDRC) not looking at isolated behaviors, it’s looking at the relatedness and/or lack of relatedness within the context of musical play and musical-social-dynamics between client and therapist- “what’s getting in the way of this client’s ability to relate and communicate within the context of musical play.

      The IMCAP-NDRC is grounded in a relationship-based perspective. For example, if you are working with an elderly client who is having difficulty holding a mallet for more then 1 measure (this is keeps her from engaging in musical relatedness), some may say that the goal should focus on her ability to hold the mallet for a sustained period of time, however, because the IMCAP is not focusing on behaviors (holding mallets), it’s focusing on the quality musical relatedness within the context of musical interaction. So, holding the mallet (which is a more of a behavioral gaol) would not be considered a goal according to the IMCAP-NDRC. The therapist administering the IMCAP may say, “why does she need to hold mallets? Let’s engage the client in musical play in which she does’nt need to hold anything.”- the goal is to deepen her expereince in music, utilizing her exisiting capacites that will allow her to move into a musical-interpersonal-therapeutic relationship. In the above example, the the therapist may develop music based goals that bridge to social-emotional goals. And in doing so, the therapist needs to cater to and support the “individual differences” of each client in order to faciliatate a continuous back and forth musical dialogue between the client and therapist. That being said, the goal of holding a mallet, may be looked at as a PT or OT goal. OT and PT was not in my music therapy training and are not my areas of expertise. However, music based goals within the context of social-emotional growth (if we look at musical interaction in that manner), is my speciality in being a music therapist.

      I’m still working on developing the protocals, charting, and musical-emotional growth charts for the IMCAP-NDRC. I’m hoping to have it ready for publication by the end of the summer- I hope!

      Thanks so much for your interest and your question.

      All the best,


  7. Very interested in your assessment system. Looking forward to seeing more…

    Sidenote: Did you present a CMTE on working with school-age children at either the National Conference in Louisville (2007) or St. Louis (2008) or am I thinking of someone else?

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Thanks for your post! I’m hoping to have the IMCAP-NDRD ready for publication by the Fall.
      It may have been in St. Louis- DIR/Floortime and Music Therapy, however, it was a concurrent session not a CMTE.


  8. Alex K. says:

    Hey there Dr. John! I’m loving your blog over here and I really like this Individualized Music-Centered Assessment Profiling system, such a great integration of Nordoff-Robins and DIR which seems to be such a great match. I think it adds a lot to both music therapy and DIR to look at various mediums through which one can the therapist can help the child get engaged, take initiative, and be creative…this assessment and your work with kids is a really great example of that.

    I wonder, could you add other ‘sensory’ or an ‘individual differences’ component to this assessment system? For example, in the musical context, one could observe how a child may choose an instrument such as drums and play loudly…what does that say about that particular child’s sensory system, i.e. craving proprioceptive input? Or maybe another child who is under-reactive responds really well to loud sounds from the therapist to get engaged, but another child may need soft, lower pitched sounds to regulate? I like how you look at sensory modulation during musical play, but I wonder if it would be feasible to add to the assessment more specific individual differences like arousal level, auditory processing and language, hyper/hypo-responsivities, motor planning and sequencing, visual spatial processing… Anyway, look forward to reading more posts of yours, and it’s fantastic to see such great things happening on your end!


    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hey AK,
      Thanks for your comments! To answer your question, in regards to “adding a sensory or an individual-differences component,” the IMCAP-NDRD contains several components: 1) the IMCAP’s raw scores which creates the child’s musical profile based on the levels of musical responsiveness within the context of musical play between therapist and child, 2) Musical-Emotional Profile which includes a narrative and checklist that displays the child’s ability to “perform” in each of the Musical Levels and the type of sensory, or “individual-difference” support needed in order to facilitate higher levels of engagement. To that end, there is a checklist that lists several support areas that the therapist may provide to promote higher levels of thinking and playing (i.e. visual cuing, vestibular input, etc.). in addition, there is a section that discusses the child’s regulatory system in terms of being underreactive, overreactive and or mixed reactivity. 2) and the Sensory-Musical Profile which attempts to link musical elements with the child’s over profile in terms of processing and “differences”. For example, I am finding trends in the IMCAP’s data that show that child that are underreactive appear to be increasingly regulated during musical play when the music displays increased tempo and dynamics levels. usually these children have a difficlulty time engaging to music that is “slow” and “not as loud.” i would imagine that this attributes not only to their sensory system but also their limited range emotionally.
      I would love for you to continue to post and include some of your great work that you have done with the kids!!
      All the best,


  9. Hae Won Yoon says:

    I am currently a DIR/Floortime therapist, and also a Music Therapist in the Los Angeles area. At our clinic we have been using DIR based Music Therapy and I am so happy to see that there is an actual assessment system!!! Is there any way that we can be trained??? Do you have a training class? I know you are based in New York. I have contacted you before a few years back when you were first starting to write about DIR based Music Therapy. Please let me know. thank you!

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi Hae Won Yoon,
      Thank you for inquiring. I am currenlty in the process of publishing the IMCAP-ND (assessment profiling system). I am hoping that it will be in print by the fall. In regards to training on the IMCAP-ND and Developmental Music Health practice, yes, I am involved in doing so at the moment, however, I am in the process of formalizing the training curriculum. In the mean time I have been invited to various settings to lecture on the DIR-music therapy approach. If you’re interested please let me know (, however, until then I’ll keep you posted on the IMCAP-ND training manual.
      Thanks again!

      All the best,


  10. Barbara Wheeler says:

    Where has this been published (by now), John? I was not aware of it, I am sorry to say – but would like to learn more. Thanks.

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi Barbara,
      I was hoping by now that the It would be available. Im still working on it. It’s just about complete. I’m hoping by the fall, 2012 that it will be out and available. I’m currently testing (reliability) one of the IMCAP-ND’s evaluation scales, The Musical Emotional Assessment Rating Scale. Thanks for asking. Best, John

  11. Cay Taylor says:

    Howdy from Texas! I practice music therapy at The Monarch Institute ( alongside 2 incredible DIR clinicians and I am eager to learn more about the IMCAP. Any update on publication?

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi there, I’m happy to say that I have just completed the manuscript and have sent it off to the editors. I’m hoping that it will be in print by late spring / early summer. Thank you for inquiring. All best, John

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s