Music therapy is a well-established professional health discipline that uses music as the therapeutic stimulus to achieve treatment goals. Music Therapy is considered as an effective educational and therapeutic tool for both children and adults with various disabilities.
In special education at Hayes Day School, the music therapist utilizes music as an educational related service to promote learning and skill acquisition. Music therapy has been shown to help children who are at different levels of communication develop needed skills. We work on the ability to initiate, anticipate, and sustain participation in turn taking, and to maintain attention to and engagement in the interaction. For example, with different elements of music (melody, pitch, tonality, rhythm, pre-composed, instrumental improvisation), the music therapist supports connection between speech and singing, rhythm and motor behavior, memory for song and memory for academic materials. Music therapy provides rhythmic movement that helps develop gross motor skills (mobility, agility, balance, and coordination) as well as respiration patterns needed for muscular relaxation. It can be used to motivate movements or structured exercises that are prescribed in physical rehabilitation. Through the use and power of music, music therapy becomes a positive reinforcement for the students in their active learning. In addition, through playing musical instruments, music therapy provides a distraction from the pain, discomfort, and anxiety often associated with some physical disabilities.
Overall, with the different clinical therapeutic methods of music therapy, the music therapist enhances the students’ moods to increase their awareness of self, of others and the environment, reduce destructive behaviors and increase their attention span in order to optimize the student’s ability to learn and interact.