Music is unique, just like each child who comes to visit the Darling Home for Kids. No wonder we see such amazing responses from our music therapy program.
Music is fluid and can easily be adapted to meet the needs of each individual. Just like the personalities of our children, some enjoy a loud, fast tempo, some prefer the quiet, slower pace. The therapist carefully tailors the music used in the session to best suit each child, and to best address the therapy goals.
Music Therapy is the skillful use of music administered by a trained music therapist to address physical, social, emotional, spiritual, cognitive and communicative needs of an individual. Session goals may include increasing gross motor skills, increasing attention span, encouraging verbal/nonverbal communication, improving self confidence, providing sensory stimulation, encouraging emotional expression and encouraging social interaction.
Since beginning music therapy sessions at the Home only one short year ago, we have seen countless positive responses from our children, on so many levels. How does music therapy affect the lives of the children who visit the Darling Home? Read on to find out just a few examples.
Providing Opportunity for Emotional Expression
The therapist had the experience of working with an 18-year old during his final visit to The Darling Home for Kids. During the session they wrote a song titled ‘Just Wanna Say Thank-You” expressing his thanks to the staff, and to all the people in his life who have been and continue to be there to support him. The lyrics were created solely by the client, and the therapist added the melody and guitar accompaniment. The music session created a safe environment for the client to discuss/explore his feelings, and gave the client a song, to take with him as a legacy from his last visit with us.
Improving Communication Skills
Music Therapy is also a powerful communicative tool for our youngest children. During the summer of 2011, the therapist had the opportunity to work with a 12-month old baby in order to increase communication skills. Throughout the sessions the baby began to sign the word ‘more’ independently. The therapist used songs and activities that the baby enjoyed, stopping the music suddenly to encourage a response from the child. When the music stopped, the baby was motivated to sign ‘more’ to continue the play. The therapist also created a song requiring the the baby to sign ‘more’ by filling in the line of the song (‘singing along’ with sign).
Increasing Gross and Fine Motor (Physical) Skills
It has been amazing to see children with limited motor movement reaching out spontaneously to strum the guitar, or tap on the drum. Even something as simple as tracking sounds with eyes and head…all of these are effective and purposeful responses to the music created in the sessions. The musical instruments provide immediate response to physical movement and support the children in their efforts. This response is motivation for the children to repeat the same movement in order to receive the same feedback. Music improvisation also provides a perfect opportunity for children to explore cause and effect. Improvisation also allows children to express creativity. The child’s playing is reflected and supported musically by the therapist, and the child is given the opportunity to become the ‘leader’ a role they may not often have the chance to take on.
Providing Opportunities for Sensory Stimulation
Many of the instruments used in the music therapy program are designed to provide the children with a variety of sensory stimulation: visual, auditory and tactile. Sensory input provides stimulation for children and allows for increased attention span, provides opportunity for social interaction and for increased communication. The therapist carefully monitors the use of the instruments, and encourages the children to interact not only with the instruments, but other with the other individuals in th