How Does Music Therapy Help A Child? - Types & Who Benefits
Created by Sugandha Tiwari Updated on Apr 29, 2017
With the combination of words, strings of wires and beats of the percussion, music has been soothing many a hearts and has been bringing together people of different ethnicities and cultures. As much as music has been a source of entertainment, it has also got itself established into a full-fledged profession under the domain of what we all know as ‘Music Therapy’
What is Music Therapy?
According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. ‘’
How Does Music Therapy Help Children?
They say, even in the mother’s womb, a little neonate can begin to hear sounds. In the second trimester of pregnancy, your baby can detect sounds from outside your body. Our motor systems naturally entrain or match to a rhythmic beat. When a musical input enters our central nervous system via the auditory nerve, most of the input goes to the brain for processing. Some of it heads straight to motor nerves in our spinal cord. This allows our muscles to move to the rhythm without our having to think about it or try. This neural process is what a trained music therapist uses to treat people with different kinds of disabilities across age groups.
Music therapies rehabilitative qualities are flexible enough to be implemented in a way that will address a child’s individual learning needs. Songs with lyrics, instrumental, dance – they all are powerful tools that can be used to develop skills like expressing emotions, social skills, communication, memory, attention. A therapist can work towards striking a perfect musical chord for a child with mobility difficulties or a non-verbal child or a child that needs to learn the language and communicate skills.
Who Benefits from Music Therapy?
When working with children through the medium of music therapy, the treatment plan will begin by assessing the child’s needs and requirements and accordingly setting goals for the overall development of the child. The primary goal of therapy is not to develop music as talent in the child; instead, it is used to develop other functional key skills that the child can use in his or her everyday life. The environment is designed in a way so that children can expand their cognitive abilities and increase their self-esteem. For eg: playing an instrument helps improve flexibility and dexterity, which further helps in refining gross and fine motor skills. It helps with alertness because the beat of music helps a child build connections within the brain that help them concentrate and focus and give them more able to respond to external stimuli quickly and appropriately. It can help in the relaxation of nerves and muscles and help reduce muscle tension which can benefit a young person who has cerebral palsy for example. The same concept applies when the child is learning to speak. The child can make an attempt to speak in tandem with the musical beats which helps him develop control of the vocal muscles.
Besides all this one thing that must be noted is that music therapy is not an alternative but a compliment. If a child requires certain medication or any other therapy like speech or maybe occupational therapy, then that also must be taken care of.
Types of Music Therapy
Within the domain of music therapy also, there are different kinds – let’s try and understand what these are!
- Background Music Therapy: Background music therapy is a form of therapy in which music is heard for an average of 8 to 12 hours per day as part of a hospital routine. It is transmitted via audiotapes and radio. The aim of this therapy is to create a calm environment amid the chaos in the hospital.
- Contemplative Music: Contemplative music therapy helps patients appreciate the significance of music and art in general. Before music is played for patients, they are given a biography of the composer and other details about the music. This may be administered in a group setting or individually. This facilitates the uncovering of morbid experiences, termed communicative music therapy, and causes emotional enlivenment, termed reactive musical therapy.
- Combined Music: In combined music therapy, music therapy is used in conjunction with other therapeutic procedures. In this type, it calls for the patient to select musical compositions that enhance the therapeutic outcomes and suit the patient. Sometimes in this form of music therapy, hypnosis is conducted while the subject listens to the music. This form of music therapy has been used in combination with cerebral electro sleep therapy and behavior therapy methods such as autogenic training.
- Executive Music: Executive music therapy consists of individual or group singing and playing musical instruments. Patients with long hospital stays are the best candidates for this form of therapy. It strengthens patients' self-confidence and their feelings of worth among others. Executive music therapy can be incorporated into the occupational therapy routine.
- Creative Music: In creative music therapy, patients write songs, compose music, and play instruments as a form of catharsis. Grief over a deceased loved one, oppression, and repressed feelings and fears often are well expressed in music and song.
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