Music Therapy…

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the music therapy symposium as part of music therapy week.  I discovered the event whist scrolling through upcoming events on Eventbrite and it caught my interest as something I could really get a lot out of… and I was right.  I attended the event with a completely open mind after all I had never even heard of music therapy before stepping foot into the Auckland University lecture theatre.

What I learnt was that music has huge amounts to offer, especially in support of those with speech language and communication needs and also in helping people find social connection.  I was blown away by stories of children with global developmental delays being reached by the patient, caring work of a music therapist.  And I wondered at the isolation that many must feel trapped within their own bodies with no one able to make that significant connection with them.  But music therapy is not only for children with special needs, I also saw case studies showing how it also has huge impacts with elderly people suffering from dementia.  With the benefits so wide-ranging I turned my thoughts to how music therapy could benefit the children in my care, so many of which could use just a little boost of support with their speech language or with making connections with their peers.

After listening to (and singing with) the celeBRation choir, it did not take me long to consider the idea of a kindergarten community choir.  It would be open to all members of our community, parents, children, siblings etc, and we would start off by singing the songs we usually sing at kindergarten before broadening our repertoire.  There is a bunch of research out there describing how singing can support children with speech language and communication needs and we have seen first hand at kindergarten how singing can break down communication barriers for our children with english as a second language.  ‘Let it go’ from Disney’s Frozen seems to cross langauge barriers with no problems.  This could be a chance for us to really support these children in a meaningful, targeted way and by having a parent there with them, the songs would travel home and all the work would be reinforced.  Not to mention the community building aspect of having parents involved in the project.  This really is too exciting!  Along side our children with speech language and communication needs, singing in a choir fosters social connection amongst its members, something that can be quite a challenge for some of our children.  Truly I can’t see a down side to this work at all!

However, not everyone is going to be as open-minded and accepting of the benefits of singing in a choir as I am, so I am going to us this opportunity to do a bit of research.  What impact does singing in a kindergarten community choir have on children’s speech language skills and social engagement?  Below are the outcomes that I expect for children and their families.

Potential Outcomes for Children:

1.  Speech Langauage intervention for children needing extra suppost including ESOL.

2. Interpersonal skills including communication, confidence, belonging and social connection. 

3. Community engagement in the kindergarten.

In order to see if the choir provides the outcomes intended we would need to measure/ assess a start point and then again after a periods of time, ie a term.  I could put together a questionnaire which looks at different outcomes and ask my co-teachers, famlies and a speech langage therapist to complete them at the start and then again after a term.  I can also do reflections and collect video data from during the term.  This would provide the data I need to be sure that an intervention of a choir actually does have the benefits I think it will and that has been shown in other situations.  Who knows what the possibilities could be from there?  It’s all about dreaming big and then putting one foot in front of the other to make those dreams a reality.  I love to sing and I can’t wait to share my passion with my community and hopefully make a difference in peoples lives.  After all, making a difference is a big part of why I am a teacher in the first place.  Wish me luck on my journey.

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3 thoughts on “Music Therapy…

  1. This is very exciting, Jessica. I think music has potential in many areas, as you have pointed out. Can I suggest you try some of Anne Infante’s songs of affirmation. I used to sing them with my children every day. They are very uplifting. The children love to sing them, and any parents, volunteers etc who were in the room used to sing them as well. They are great for helping to build a supportive classroom environment by strengthening children’s confidence and self-esteem. I always started with “Special as I can be”, then added others as the year progressed. Here is a link to Anne’s site where the CD can be purchased http://www.anneinfante.com/ (Special as I can be is also the title of the CD).
    I look forward to hearing more about your action research project. I’d love to see your questionnaire and look forward to hearing about the pre- and post-responses.
    Best wishes with it. It’s a wonderfully positive and, possibly, life changing project.

    • Thanks, Norah! I am just looking for great music resources. I can’t wait to check out the CD, thanks for the link! I will keep you posted as it goes along. Already I am far too excited!

      • It’s going to be awesome fun! Best wishes with it.
        Here are links to a couple of songs my children always enjoyed. I used used the songs to call the children together in the mornings.

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