Music Therapy and Children

The sensory stimulation and playful nature of music can help develop a child’s ability to express emotion, communicate, and develop rhythmic movement. There is also some evidence to show that speech and language skills can be improved through the stimulation of both hemispheres of the brain.

Just as with adults, appropriately selected music can decrease stress, anxiety, and pain. Music therapy in a hospital environment with those who are sick, preparing for surgery, or recovering post-operatively, is appropriate and beneficial. Children can also experience improved self-es(teem through musical activities that allow them to succeed.

Newborns may enjoy an even greater benefit of music. Those who are premature, experience more rapid weight gain and hospital discharge than their peers who are not exposed to music. There is also anecdotal evidence of improved cognitive function.

The benefits for children include:

· Music therapy enhances the quality of life. It involves relationships between a qualified therapist and child between one child and another; between child and family; and between the music and the participants. These relationships are structured and adapted through the elements of music to create a positive environment and set the occasion for successful growth.

· Music stimulates all the senses and involves the child at many levels. This “multi-nodal approach” facilitates many developmental skills.

· Quality learning and maximum participation occur when children are permitted to experience the joy of play. The medium of music therapy allows this play to occur naturally and frequently.

· Music is highly motivating, yet it can also have a calming and relaxing effect. Enjoyable music activities are designed to be success-oriented and make children feel better about themselves.

· Music therapy can help a child manage pain and stressful situations.

· Music can encourage socialisation, self-expression, communication, and motor development.

Because the brain processes music in both hemispheres, music can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills.

Music and Rehabilitation

Patients with brain damage from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other neurologic conditions have been shown to exhibit significant improvement as a result of music therapy. This is theorised to be partially the result of entrainment, which is the synchronisation of movement with the rhythm of the music.

Consistent practice leads to gains in motor skill ability and efficiency. Cognitive processes and language skills often benefit from appropriate musical intervention.

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