Why Music Works in Therapy
In February I will be giving a presentation at Pinecrest Community Center on music therapy with Claire, one of the music therapists who works with Wholesome Harmonies. (Pinecrest Community Center is where these programs are taking place!)
Claire and I are getting together this evening to work on this presentation, so it got me thinking about what is the most important information to include. It seems impossible to fit everything that can be said about music therapy into a 45-minute presentation, but we will do our best!
One of the core elements that I like to include in my presentations to those outside the music therapy community is:
Why is music an effective therapeutic medium?
There are many reasons why music is an effective medium for bringing about functional changes in behavior. Here are just a few…
– Music is organized into patterns. Research has shown that when the brain takes in information, it prefers it to be in an organized, structured form, rather than discrete bits of information.
– Music provides concrete, multisensory stimuli. Musical instruments such as the ocean drum, cabasa, tone bars, and drums provide unique visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation.
– Music has a rhythmic component. Rhythm can be used to structure movement patterns, accent specific words or sounds, and help sustain a client’s attention throughout the therapeutic intervention and session.
– Research has shown that children with autism have a musical sensitivity and
perceptual preference for music. Music is our way ‘in.’ Music therapists can use music to engage children with autism so we can work on other skills, such as joint attention, expressive language, or socialization.
– Music can be used as a mnemonic device. “Chunking” (grouping information into smaller units) and repetition in songs allow non-musical information to be remembered and recalled more easily.
– Musical elements can cue specific behaviors. For example, high notes on a piano can cue a child to play their shaker high; low notes can cue the child to play low.
– Music is universal. Music crosses boundaries of age, gender, and culture. Nearly everyone responds to music in some way.
– Music is a fun, motivating medium! The music and the upbeat rhythm are what motivate the children to be engaged and participate.
What would YOU add? Why is music an effective therapeutic medium, or as the title of this blog post says why does music “work?”
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