Music therapy is an established branch of the healthcare profession that utilizes the beneficial effects of listening/playing music to achieve nonmusical treatment goals. Music therapy is typically utilized to promote learning and skill acquisition due to the multi-sensory stimulation (auditory, visual, and tactile) playing, listening and performing music games can encourage. This stimulation can improve attention, aid coordination and mobility, and increase motivation; all of which translate into real world situations. As a result, patients typically perform better in communication and behavior, and have an easier time participating in social and educational settings.
Musical therapies were first employed in 1945 to help military service members in Army hospitals with occupational therapy. It has since become officially recognized as a branch of special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act* (IDEA)20 U.S.C. §1400.
Benefits of Music Therapy
Music therapy offers a number of health benefits for participants. These include, but are not limited to:
- Increased joint attention
- Increased coping skills
- Improved listening skills
- Increased socialization with peers and educational teams
- Functional and effective self-expression skills
- Improved behavior and self-regulation
- Improved non-verbal and verbal communication
- Enhanced auditory processing
- Increased self-regulation and decreased agitation
- Enhanced sensory-motor, perceptual, fine, and gross motor skills
- Support of progress and attainment of IEP goals and objectives
- Acquisition and practice of new skills for educational
- Improve mood
- Reduce stress and depression
Music Therapy Versatility of Treatments
In addition, music therapy is extremely versatile thanks to the huge variation in types/genres of music, which can be endlessly altered and adjusted to suit the moment.
Furthermore, since music stimulates a different area of the brain to speech and language, those students who experience difficulties with speech therapy and language lessons may benefit greatly from music therapies.
Millions of people experience the benefits of musical therapy each year, and finding a therapist near you certainly shouldn’t pose any problems in the States, or any developed country, since there are more than 6,000 trained music therapists and over 10,000 worldwide.
Music Therapy Treatments
There are several music related therapies that can be utilized to help treat a number of aliments. These therapies include, but are not limited to:
- Rhythmic movement help develop gross motor skills (agility, balance, coordination and mobility,) as well as breathing patterns and muscular relaxation
- Rhythmic exercise and games can also help better organize cognitive systems and sensory perception in individuals diagnosed with autism
- Playing instruments, listening and analysis-type exercises can aid auditory processing and other sensory-motor skills (perceptual, gross and fine motor)
- Musical improvisation enhances self-expression, creativity
- Songwriting can help facilitate self-expression
- Singing encourages vocalization and support communication goals
- Simply listening to music decreases agitation and calms
- Music can also be used as a mnemonic device to assist memory and retention abilities
- Lyric analysis can improve literacy and social emotional skills
Ideal Candidate for Music Therapy
Music therapy has been shown to help patients of any age, suffering from a number of conditions. These therapies can reduce symptoms in students suffering from one or more of the following conditions:
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Blindness/Visual Impairment (BVI)
- Deafness and Hard of Hearing (D/HH)
- Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
- Emotional Disturbance (ED)
- Speech or Language Impairment (SLI)
- Orthopedic Impairment (OI)
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Multiple Disabilities (MD)
- Behavioral Disorder (BD)
- Other Health Impairment (OHI)
Music Therapies FAQs
Reports estimate over 2million people undergo musical therapy annually in the USA alone.
90.15% of participants utilize music to relax, 81.80% percent used it to increase happiness, 46.5% to process and release sadness, and the remaining 32.53% employ it to assist concentration.
Music therapy is suitable for individuals of any age, however, it can be extremely effective for children, adolescents and young adults, especially in cases where the risk of harm due to polypharmacy may be deemed to high.
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) represents 10,000 music therapists, corporate members, and related associations worldwide. AMTA is committed to the advancement of education, training, professional standards, and research in support of the music therapy profession.
AMTA’s mission is to advance public knowledge of music therapy benefits and increase access to quality music therapy services. Learn more at www.musictherapy.org.