Jan Hall, Music Therapist / Teacher
“Music plays an important part in our everyday lives. It can be exciting or calming, joyful or poignant, can stir memories and powerfully resonate with our feelings, helping us to express them and to communicate with others” –(British Association of Music Therapy B.A.M.T )
Music Therapy supports all other areas of the curriculum and the child’s development.
Music Therapy can help the children gain non-musical knowledge and skills that are essential to or part of their education. Music learning and music skills are secondary. Music Therapy addresses educational difficulties and needs that require therapeutic intervention, because these have important implications for the child’s overall development.
Research shows that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other form of communication. Children for whom verbal communication is difficult can express themselves more effectively through music. Music Therapy supports early language development because the interactions through improvisation involve all pre-linguistic skills. The ‘playing with sounds’ is parallel in structure and timing to early mother and child interactions – looking, waiting, give/take, back/forth, sound/silence, etc. These improvisations focus attention and sustain concentration, develop auditory awareness, listening ability, eye contact, initiation and imitation of vocal/verbal sound and gesture and develop repertoire – musical and verbal.
The safety and security of the therapy sessions can release feelings and the relationship developed can be a way of promoting change and growth. Individual Music Therapy aims to build trust and confidence, to develop self esteem and a sense of worth, to enrich verbal communication and to provide an outlet for emotion (Music activates the most primal part of the brain and is unique in its activation if the limbic system-the brain’s emotional and motivation centre).
Through the use of music the child feels able to express themselves at their own level.
Many children are isolated by their individual disabilities and Music Therapy benefits these children in a 1 to 1 and group situation. In all sessions the music therapist aims to diagnose through musical improvisation. By observing in detail a child’s musical and non-musical behaviour during a session specific conclusions can be drawn concerning the child’s condition e.g. The child may demonstrate either extreme passivity or aggression through his/her handling of the instruments. The child may present an aspect of his/her personality through the music, which may rarely be expressed in other situations i.e. A withdrawn child may demonstrate an unusual sense of purpose or energy or a hyperactive child may show genuine sensitivity through his/her improvisation.
The therapist actively encourages the release of emotion. The therapist supports and contains this as long as it is non-destructive. This provides the child the opportunity to share and work through his/her feelings with the therapist. Some children will acquire some knowledge of musical concepts through their experience of Music Therapy.
Music Therapy is a ‘cross-curricular’ area in that it is a relevant medium for working on skills throughout the whole curriculum (social/emotional, physical, cognitive, communication, expressive arts). Music Therapy contributes to all learning and therefore contributes directly to the school aims.
The qualified music therapist is registered with the Health and Care professions council (HCPC).