“Music therapy is the use of sounds and music within an evolving relationship between client and therapist to support and encourage physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional wellbeing.” Leslie Bunt
Music therapy is based on the belief that in some way everyone responds to sound and music. There are musical elements such as a rhythm to our heartbeat, breathing and movement, and there is melody to our voices: in our laughter, crying or song. We are innately receptive to music and it can affect us on many levels – physical, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural. For people who find verbal communication difficult, music therapy offers the opportunity for an alternative means of self-expression.
In sessions a music therapist aims to build a relationship with a child through using music and sounds rather than words. Both child and therapist usually take an active part by playing, singing and listening. The therapist encourages the child to use a variety of instruments and their own voice to explore the world of sound. During the process of creating music together a relationship between the therapist and child develops, which enables emotional and developmental themes to be explored and hopefully the child can experience and explore new ways of relating which may lead to development and change.
Hans Christian Anderson said “Where words fail, music speaks.”
How can music therapy help?
- Communication: the non-verbal medium of music can offer an alternative mode of communication.
- Social interaction: music making involves skills such as listening to others, sharing, working together and being able to lead and follow.
- Confidence: in creating their own music and bring their own ideas to sessions, in leading music-making and through developing relationships self esteem can be boosted and a child can feel personal satisfaction and achievement.
- Enjoyment: music-making can encourage play and may encourage participation and engagement.
- Self expression: music can convey feelings without the need for words. Music therapy can provide a medium through which children can express and recognise their feelings in a safe environment.
- Listening skills
- Relaxation: A child can vent frustration using instruments which may result in decreased tension, anxiety and challenging behaviour.
- Fine motor skills: music can motivate a child and encourage physical awareness and movement as well as helping to develop attention, concentration and memory.
- Sense of autonomy & Sense of self and others: Children can become aware of their own music and their own ability to create music.