Let me take you on a mental journey inside the walls of a music therapy session (picture a small closet, a conference room, the end of a hallway). Today our subject will be a 4 year old with autism. His goals (from his Individual Education Plan) include using 3-word phrases and counting to 3. We start by singing “hello” as a greeting, to establish a routine, and to work on communication. The 3 word sentence he would use is “Hello, Miss Katey” within the song structure. Three-word phrases continue to be used when requesting instruments or during a conversation song.
We then move on to working on his math goal of counting 1-2-3. I lay out 3 shape drums with the number 1, 2, 3 on each corresponding drum. We may sing a song and drum 1-2-3 to a tune. This activates both hemispheres of the brain—the right by melody and the left by rhythm. I have a student who can count to 30 now because of starting with a simple song and rhythm. We end our session by singing “Goodbye” which completes the general structure of a music therapy session.
What did I work on? Matching pitch? No. Singing the right words? No. Am I a music teacher? No. The goals I worked on were: communication and math. So there you have it, within the walls of a music therapy session part 1. Next blog I will discuss within the walls of a music therapy session: adults with disabilities. I will continue to uncover the truths about the mysterious job of a music therapist.
Author’s note: Please do not replicate these ideas if you are not a music therapist. If you use them, do not claim that you are a music therapist until you complete a 4 year degree in music therapy.