We all know that music can be tied to emotions. Have you ever felt a ball of emotion bubble up when listening to a certain song? Has your mood/entire day changed after you heard a tune on the radio? We are all well aware of the music around us. But did you know that music can be so much more?
Music Therapy is actually a clinical and evidenced-based form of therapy which addresses the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of an individual. Like any therapy, the therapist will tailor the musical treatment to the meet the needs of the unique individual. This can be accomplished through creating, singing, moving/dancing to, and/or listening to music. It is through the use of music that the client and therapist can strengthen and transfer abilities to other areas of the client’s life. It can also be used as a form of communication for those who have difficulty expressing themselves.
I think you can already see how music therapy could have a positive impact on children. I’m sure you are asking yourself what this looks like? Here’s some ways you, as a teacher, can utilize music within your day. If you are a parent, you can always adapt some of these ideas to sibling interactions, play dates, etc. But remember, it’s always best to seek out a Music Therapist if this topic interests you.
- Social Interactions: you can utilize music to encourage social interactions by allowing students to pass and share instruments, play music/movement games as a whole class, have all the students gather around a single instrument, sing greetings, and or use music for tasks (example: the clean up song)
- Behaviors: the presence of music appears to improve behaviors in general, but especially those behaviors in the realm of inattention/focusing. Just by having soft music playing in the background enables the active mind to hone in on something thus allowing an avenue for focusing. In other words, it gives the mind something to do.
- Communication: Did you know that music can also assist with our speaking ability? Sometimes when having trouble with expressive language, a steady rhythm or beat will help with the formulation of words more easily and smoothly. Music also helps a child connect sounds to actual actions. Thus, when a direction is given in song, the comprehension rate improves. The brain allows for additional connections to the action. An example again is the “clean up” song.
- Hype Up or Calm Down: Surrounding oneself with music can also reduce anxiety. Having soft music playing in the background may help regulate one’s breathing and decrease blood pressure. Music could have a calming effect. However, music could also be used to hype oneself up in preparation for a test or a game. Choose the music wisely for the desired outcome.
- Fun, Fun, Fun: Finally, music is just plain fun! Turn up the volume and just move! Don’t dance like no one is watching. Instead, dance like a Toddler. They don’t care who’s watching, they are just out to move and have fun.
Author: Kelly Dale, School Psychologist