“Music therapy can be beneficial to children with autism. The greatest challenge is to build trust in the relationship between the therapist and the child,” Kendra Gandharba, a clinical music therapist told Xinhua Wednesday as Nepal joined the world in observing Autism Awareness Day.
Jammin’ Jenn is honored to inform you of a terrific event on March 8th in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We currently conduct music therapy in the surrounding area and have recently been in contact with Jill Kail, the Ombudsman for Disabled Citizens of Cherry Hill, the sponsor of this event. We are sure this gathering will be valuable to access resources and information on issues important to families raising children with special needs. If you are near the area please attend!!
Why Music Therapy Versus Music Education?
What is the difference?
A traditional music educator teaches attainment of musical knowledge and skills with an emphasis on developing performance abilities. Standard curriculum tends to be the focus. In most cases, music education teachers do not have sufficient experience or training in educating special needs children. According to the American Music Therapy Association, published research studies indicate that music educators often report lacking adequate training regarding the educational needs of students with disabilities and limited knowledge of effective strategies to meet those needs.
As special needs students attend traditional music education class they are typically taught by traditional, rigid methods with no adaptations to meet the child’s specific needs and learning style.
Music Therapy, however, is highly adaptive. A music therapist is trained and experienced in recognizing that each child has different strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. Music therapy focuses on the development of non-musical skills. Musical activities are custom designed to promote specific cognitive, motor, perceptual, communication and behavioral goals that address a specific individual or group. Musical “talent”, “aptitude”, and/or “ability” are not prerequisites for progress.
Music as a medium is powerful. It often facilitates a connection to children with special needs that in many other circumstances cannot be made. Music is transformative in its effect. It positively alters mood and processing, which in turn produce fertile ground for progress in many areas.
Music therapy as a discipline is becoming more and more established, validated by broader and increasingly recognized research. As a result, special education professionals are beginning to realize that the traditional music ed. setting is not sufficiently appropriate for special needs children. It does not cater to their needs. Furthermore, the setting does not leverage the power of music as a medium hindering the potential progress that music therapists are well equipped to deliver.
I grew up singing the songs from Annie, A Chorus Line and Barbara Streisand, etc. That was my love, my passion. People always ask me what made me leave performing to do Music Therapy. My answer is that I just knew that my talent was not meant for the stage 8 shows a week. It was not an easy thing to walk away from my life in the theatre and don’t get me wrong; I loved traveling all over the world and singing, but something was missing. It took me years to figure out what was missing but after many years working as a Music Therapist I finally know what it was. It was a confidence, a confidence in my talent as a singer and the insecurity was just too much to handle. My confidence as a Music Therapist is as high as it can be. As far as singing goes, I am the voice of so many of my clients. There is no producer or director telling me my note was not great, or I missed a dance step. I run my own show and I know that what I do works. I know that when a family comes in for services I can evaluate not only what is going on with the child but the family dynamic. I am able to assess very early on what the child and the family need from me as their therapist. I care, bottom line, it is just my nature to take it all in and try to improve the quality of the families life with Music Therapy. There is absolutely no insecurity on my end, because I say it as I see it.
Being that I have been in the field for over 13 years, I have seen it all. I have seen the most severe autistic child to the highest functioning; and even though there were times were I may have been uncertain about how to treat a particular case that might have been more challenging, I never lost confidence, never thought I cannot help this family. It feels great to be able to say that after years of tears, frustration, and rejection from my theatre world stint. I am in the right place. I am the star of my own show and I don’t need any applause.