What Is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.
–American Music Therapy Association Definition, 2005
To put it simply, music therapists use music experiences to improve emotional well-being, social skills, communication, fine and gross motor functioning, self-awareness, self esteem, and cognitive skills in their clientele.
In my work with special needs, first and foremost, it is important to build a relationship with my clients by meeting them where they are. This allows me to assess their areas of need and set attainable goals. Then, comes my favorite part! I create personal music experiences for each client based on their needs, abilities and music interests. Whether it’s singing in the words to their favorite song, playing/translating emotions through drumming, learning social cues through musical story telling, enhancing hand-eye coordination through tracking notes, colors or numbers on a keyboard, boosting self-esteem through song writing or following directions through instrument play, music is the underlying motivator than can bring positive change and growth for each of my clients.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” I could not agree more. In my eight years as a music therapist I have seen more clients with special needs come alive through music. It truly is a language through which they can achieve their highest potential!
For more about the profession of music therapy please visit the American Music Therapy Association website.