Have you ever wanted to learn more about music therapy for kids? Well today I have, Carrie Friddell MT-BC, a Board Certified Music Therapist to tell us more about what music therapy is and how it is helpful for kids. She works with children with special needs in her clinical music therapy practice, In Harmony Music of Middle Tennessee. Carrie also is a Music Together center director and teacher and has taught piano for 20 years. She is also a mother of two lively school age children so she has a great understanding of children and how music therapy can be helpful to their development. I have also included a few inspirational music quotes.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said, and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo
What Is Music Therapy?
The phrase I hear the most from parents of the children with special needs I work with is, “I believe there is a connection my child has with music, I was thinking that music therapy might be a good fit.” The very next comment is, “How does music therapy work, exactly?”
As a board certified music therapist, I have engaged in academic studies, practicum learning, taken a 6 month internship, and engage in continuing education activities to help navigate this one question. “What is music therapy?” It’s a great question that I love to answer!
Music therapy simply stated is the prescribed use of music and music techniques by a board certified music therapist to help a person achieve their unique non-musical goals. As RN, Tere Jones, says, “For children, music can be a fun way to learn, relax and get through tough emotional or physical situations. It can help with communication, social skills and with other abilities. In fact, it’s also been shown to reduce stress”.
What Music Therapy For Kids Can Assist With:
In my work with children with special needs, some common non-musical goals that music therapy can help achieve include:
- Making appropriate requests either verbal or non-verbal
- Making and maintaining eye contact
- Increasing social awareness
- Taking turns
- Using fingers to increase small motor skills
- Using arms and legs to increase gross motor skills
- Answer questions
- Increase focus and decrease hyper-active behavior
As a trained musician and in using therapeutic techniques, music becomes the vehicle for motivation. Various musical instruments are my tools of the trade. A drum can be used to motivate a child to make a request. In addition, sharing the drum can increase eye contact, social awareness, taking turns, using fingers and arms, answer questions, and increase focus for a given amount of time. Using music that a child likes also increases their path to increased health and wellness.
I use other instruments similarly, teaching piano or guitar skills, can help cover the above goals. What sets a music therapist apart from a music educator is that through training, I can make assessments, create therapeutic goals and objectives, plan out the course of therapy, implement therapeutic techniques, document progress, and generate reports. This gives a clear view of progress. Training in behavioral health, mental health, and physical health sets a music therapist apart. Music as therapy is used in the process of health and not always the end result of musical performance as the goal for formal music education.
Music has a connection with children because humans are musical beings. Babies wiggle their
bodies to music and often coo and chatter after they hear singing. Toddlers, bounce and smile to the rhythm of a fun, energetic song. Preschoolers, sing favorite lyrics over and over again practicing their voices. Children are drawn to catchy tunes in movies and TV shows. Even grown-ups have their favorite music they like to listen to because it makes them feel good or resonates with a situation they have gone through.
Where words fail, music speaks – Hans Christian Anderson
What songs and/or instruments motivates your child? Makes them wiggle, move, look up and smile? Using music in throughout your child’s day can be a great motivator in their daily life as they grow and learn. Attending music therapy sessions can also be the key that helps unlock their potential and motivate their will.
Do you have any other questions about music therapy for kids? Share them in the comments to open up discussion on music therapy.