What is Music Therapy - Acceptance and Expression
About Music Therapy
 
 
What is music therapy?
Music Therapy is a young, applied discipline involving a wide range of subjects, applications, and ideologies. There is not a consistent set of standards, because:
·         Music therapy is a recent discipline
·      Music therapists are from different countries and different ethnicities, and are influenced by different cultural and historical factors,among others
·         Each music therapist provides treatment to different groups
Simply put, music therapy is the use of various forms of music activities, including listening, singing, playing, and rhythm to stimulate and relax the body for the purpose of improving health.
 
The history of music therapy
·         In the USA, the first academic program to train music therapists was instituted at Michigan State University in 1944.
·         In 1950, a group of psychiatrists, professional musicians and educators formed the National Association for Music Therapy.
·         By 1953, specific education and clinical training requirements led to a baccalaureate degree and registration as a music therapist.
·         In 1973, the American Association for Music Therapy was formed.
·         The American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998, a union of the American Association for Music Therapy and the National Association for Music Therapy. Its purpose is to support the therapeutic use of music in hospital,educational and community settings.
·         Currently AMTA establishes criteria for academic programs in colleges and universities, clinical training sites, and professional registration of music therapists.
·         In the UK, music therapy has been used effectively to support children with special needs. Examples of how music has particularly helped autistic children improve their attention and focus are given in various research studies. Also,it has been proven that music therapy can improve communication skills for children with autism.
(http://www.bamt.org/music-therapy/who-can-benefit/autistic-spectrum-conditions/autism-case-study.html)
 
Benefits: Physiological
  • Music stimulation can release certain neuro-transmitters in the brain, thereby improving cerebral cortex function.
  • Music can act directly on the nervous system, and can be a two-way adjustment on human emotions.
  • Music may be able to regulate emotions and to treat certain psychosomatic disorders, since emotional stress can lead directly to distress in certain internal organs.
  • Music helps improve concentration and serves to inhibit pain, since music stimulates the auditory nerve.
  • Music helps to coordinate left and right hemispheres of the brain, thus promoting intellectual development. Consequently, music therapy is widely used in special education.
  • Music is likely to positively affect personality, since musical activity is an orderly behavior which may contribute to physical and mental coordination and may promote harmonious interpersonal relationships. Music therapy is widely used in behavior therapy.
 
Benefits: Behavioral
·         Music therapy has been found to be soothing and to help shape proper behavior.
·         Music therapy can improve concentration and learning, and assist in developing social and language skills to replace self-stimulatory behaviors.
·         Some music therapy methods assist in improving concentration of children with autism. Music with pictures may be used to attract the attention. For example, the Visual Music Intervention Instrument provides music with cartoon graphics. A spectrum effect is also helpful for attracting attention.
·         A music album can be made with selected music and selected pictures or photos, using album editing software. This provides a personalized and pleasurable approach to teaching.
·         Rhythm may be used to improve concentration and ability to respond. Percussion instruments may be used to beat time along with selected music.     The student may clap along with the teacher, with or without music. A small drum may also be used.
·         Practicing the piano is very effective in music therapy. The music therapist may begin by holding the right hand of student to guide in playing the melody, while the teacher uses his/her left hand to play chord accompaniment. Another approach is to supply personalized words to a short and familiar tune played by the music therapist. There are many benefits for children with autism who are learning to play the piano, and when concentration improves, learning improves,and behavior improves, as well.
 
Music therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Music therapy provides a unique experience for children and youth with autism, and is particularly valuable and motivational when provided by a certified and skilled music therapist. The versatility of music allows for individualization of therapy in terms of the presenting behaviors, interests and abilities, and the materials at hand.
 
Music therapy is not the same as music instruction. According to Lisa Jo Rudy (Music Therapy for Autism at www.about.com, updated 1-31-10), music therapy can build skills, lower anxiety and develop new communication skills. Music therapy can improve communication, social skills, sensory issues,behavior, cognition,perceptual-motor skills and self-reliance or self-determination. She reports that the music therapist may rely on spontaneous music improvisation, or use simple songs, pieces, or musical styles to suit the mood and the clinical and developmental needs of the child or youth, and the music therapist can develop strategies that can be used at home or at school.
 
Most children with autism have an interest in music. Music therapy is an effective vehicle of rehabilitation and education for them. It is increasingly valued by rehabilitation workers. Two types of equipment that GIVES has sponsored for use with music therapy in China:
·         Somatosensory Vibration Music Therapy Bed
·         Visual Music Intervention Instrument
These combine musical and visual elements to help reduce emotional and behavioral problems and to improve attention.
 
There are many reports by researchers that have used music therapy with individuals with autism [Simpson, et al. (2005) Autism Spectrum Disorders: Interventions and Treatments for Children and Youth. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, California]. The researchers have reported significant changes in:
·         Interaction skills
·         Expressive Skills
·         Nonverbal communication
·         Behavior, and
·         Community-based skills
Music Therapy is classified as a practice for which there is limited supporting information. This is not an indication that the method is necessarily without merit; rather,an indication that the evidence is lacking to make an objective, scientific judgment.
 

 

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