by Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS
I've been binge watching documentaries recently. I watched one the other day on Alzheimer’s disease. Actually, it was about what happens when you give iPod headphones to dementia patients in nursing facilities. Music playlists representing the styles of music from their youth seem to produce the most startling results at bringing folks back to life. If you have Netflix, search for “Alive Inside”, it’s an apt name for a story about rebirth through stimulation of certain parts of the brain in people whose brains are slowly being consumed by rampant plaques and tangles of nerves.
It made me wonder about Music Therapy in general, especially among severely developmentally disabled children or children with emotional disabilities. I wonder if approaching a child through different nerve pathways that are usually assigned to interpreting music might provide a new avenue to enhance learning. As it turns out, music is very helpful in providing alternative therapies for children identified with:
· cerebral palsy
· childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)
· learning disabilities (LD)
Other instances where this type of therapy can be beneficial include treating depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and helping those who lack self-confidence. Music therapy allows some disabled children new ways to learn. This type of therapy can be extremely effective.
So, how does this look in the classroom? There are four basic music therapy models in education:
· Program model
· Direct service model
· Consulting services
· Hybrid models
In the program model, the district works with a music therapy team to identify classrooms and students who could benefit from music intervention. The therapists conduct sessions in the designated classrooms, which will then serve as models for the classroom staff to deliver between music therapy sessions.
In a direct service model, a student receives music therapy services as described in her IEP. An evaluation referral by the school study team produces written goals and objectives that describe how the therapy will benefit individual students in either a pull-out or push-in model, depending on how the district wants to roll it out. Certified music therapists are usually district employees who operate on an itinerant basis, depending on the size of the district and individual schools.
Consulting services may be the preferred method in small school districts. An independent music therapist is on-call to come in and provide music therapy sessions to students who have MT written in their IEP’s. It sometimes takes pressure from an active parent to bring this person in. This model, if successful, may then turn in to a hybrid model where the consultant is then hired full time to provide services more closely resembling a direct service model.
A music therapy session will look different for each child. Most will contain:
· Performing/playing, including singing or instrument playing.
· Composing, including a group or individual songwriting process.
· Improvising, including creating original music.
· Receiving/listening, the IPod image I created at the beginning of the article.
Music Therapy Resources:
Do you have music therapy for your students? Let me know.