WHAT IS MUSIC THERAPY?
As the Australian Music Therapy Association defines it, Music Therapy…
… is an allied health profession practised throughout Australia and in more than 40 countries around the world.
… is the planned and creative use of music to attain and maintain health and well being. People of any age or ability may benefit from a music therapy programme regardless of musical skill or background.
… focuses on meeting therapeutic aims, which distinguishes it from musical entertainment or music education.
… allows an individual’s abilities to be strengthened and new skills to be transferred to other areas of a person’s life.
WHO CAN ACCESS MUSIC THERAPY?
Just as each child is very different, so are the reasons for referring your child to a Registered Music Therapist. Your child does not need to possess any musical ability at all to be able to meaningfully participate in a music therapy session nor do they need to be of a certain age. We know that from within the womb, a baby can hear and react to music and that music helps to shape the neural pathways of the brain. In the early years of life, neural pathways are being shaped constantly, making early intervention with children with special needs crucial to maximise their developmental potential.
In a Music Therapy session, music is the tool used by the Registered Music Therapist to address one or all of the skill areas listed below.
A child can be referred because they require intervention to assist in the development of their:
- speech/language/communication skills
- motor skills (gross/fine)
- sensory processing
- social skills (waiting, turn-taking, listening etc)
- literacy skills
- numeracy skills
- emotional awareness
- cognitive (thinking/executive functioning) skills
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT FROM A MUSIC THERAPY SESSION?
Methods and techniques employed by a Registered Music Therapist are evidence-based and those used in a session are determined by the child’s individual needs. You can expect the first one or two sessions to be assessment based, while the RMT builds a rapport with your child. If no formal assessment is required, then the RMT will conduct an observational assessment, trying various techniques and observing how your child responds. There are an assortment of large tuned and untuned percussion instruments in the Music Therapy room at the Paediatric Centre Gold Coast. The RMT may use song-singing, song-writing, music listening, improvisation, instrument play or a combination of these techniques to meet your child’s needs. The RMT will almost always be part of a larger allied health team, addressing the needs of your child. It is not uncommon for a joint SLP, OT or PT session with a RMT, as music can make a critical difference to all these disciplines.