What is Music Therapie

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.

Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people's motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings. 

(AMTA, www.musictherapy.org, 2018)

What are the benefits of music therapy?

Music is processed in multiple areas of the brain, and it is a playful experience of joy within the structure of song. Music is highly motivating because it provides successful experiences, and clients do not need any musical experience to benefit. 

Music therapy can help with physical goals, including steadying gait, speech formation, pain relief, range of motion, coordination, and increased lung capacity; emotional goals, including self-expression, confidence building, and emotional regulation; cognitive goals including ADLs and educational milestones, attention span, and speech; and social goals such as appropriate length of turn, communication, problem solving, and conversation. 

How does this support a child’s IEP goals/other therapies?

Music therapists work closely as part of an integrative medical team, so they are addressing the same goal areas as the family and other therapists. Music therapy objectives are measurable and changes are observed quickly- adding music therapy in to a child's IEP can often speed up the positive results seen in other therapies. 

Music therapy is a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and music therapists can provide direct or consultant services for individuals and groups. 

What types of instruments do you use?

Percussion is an accessible instrument family for persons with disabilities, so we often bring in drums and shakers and mallet instruments. We also use adaptable mallets and re-tuned string instruments to provide positive, non-frustrating first experiences with musical instruments. All of our equipment is able to be disinfected. 

What are a few basic activities that caregivers could practice with their children?

I always recommend singing with your child as often as possible- vocal play can create a fast connection, and improve understanding of speech and communication. Using music to transition between activities can be helpful, as well as finding songs that last the length of an unpreferred activity. Music can also be helpful to soothe a child before bedtime, or energize a child in the morning. And any kind of instrument play can be used to practice social skills like turn-taking. 


Kate Beever, MA, MT-BC, Maine Music & Health

Find some music examples on our Pinterest page here and please send us your own examples


Laura BadmaevComment