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Music Therapy Through the Lifespan:Infants to Childhood

Hello! Miranda Murphy MTBC popping in to introduce our newest blog series for you all! This series will focus on how Music Therapy can be integrated throughout our development, from our first breaths to our warmest well wishes. Our first post is going to focus on infancy until about the age of 11. Pre-teens will be included in our next post, as they are more likely to need similar supports as teens.

Music Therapy After Birth: Baby, baby, baby, OH

After babies are born there are some possible issues that can arise. This can often cause a lot of stress for not only the infant, but parents as well. Music Therapy can actually be found in NICU’s across the US. Music Therapists at this level work to assist babies with breathing, feeding, and

creating an environment that helps them sleep more efficiently. Music is the one language that even those without a voice can understand. Music can help the babies calm with a familiar sound while surrounded by machines and the other noises associated with a hospital. This type of service is observed mostly with premature babies, but the support of music can be a key piece to the puzzle in helping them grow and transition home more rapidly.

Music Therapy Ages 2-5: The teenage years before the teenage years

As a child begins to grow, we sometimes observe delays in certain developmental areas. However, there is no need to panic. Every child has their own pace for learning and growing. Music Therapy can be integrated throughout this time to help support and progress development. We begin to see development in motor, communication, social, and even emotional skills. Let’s break down how music helps in all of the areas!

Motor skills are easily tackled within a Music Therapy setting. Instrument play often incorporates not only the large motions like moving our arms and legs, but also the fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are focused in the hands to work on grip strength through holding and playing with

instruments. Music can also explore gross motor development through movement/dancing to build up the arms and legs and coordination skills. This development can be explored within musical games that incorporate catching, throwing, and jumping. One cannot engage with music and avoid moving any parts of their body!

Communication skills can look many different ways in a music therapy session. Here we can begin to build the groundwork for making choices, sharing feelings, and expressing needs. A music therapist may do this through image selection, the use of gestures, and practicing sounds through chants, singing, and using instruments to represent the voice itself. Communication does not always appear as words into sentences. Some children require another avenue to explore and find what suits their needs and abilities best.

Social skills are often the topic we see kids struggle with as they transition into a school setting. School presents a new environment where not everyone acts or thinks similarly. This can present some challenges for children to develop relationships with others. Music Therapy allows us to explore these various differences in a non-invasive way. Social issues can be presented through stories, directed play with the therapist, and development of understanding how others may play as well. These goals can be explored on an individual level or within a group of similar

age/developmental peers.

Emotional skills are often not explored until a child is older; however, children struggle with emotional regulation throughout their life. The way we explore regulation differs throughout our lives, but the core of our ability to cope and manage big feelings can start at any age. We can work on how we react to different problems or how to create a space to go when we need less stimulation. Even children without a diagnosis can become overwhelmed and require a sensory break of some form. It is important to show children it is ok to need to step back and calm their body. Music therapists demonstrate coping skills like counting to 10, taking deep breaths, and body check ins. Within music we can introduce ideas that are created with your child. Music integrates the creation of calm down songs and use of movement to release tensions.

This age range is the starting point for being able to identify and process various emotions- traumatic or everyday frustrations. Music creates the capsule that allows safe exploration of these spaces so as to not cause more harm or struggles to clients.

Music Therapy for the Pretweens- Is my child now some kind of alien?

After the age of 7 children tend to start developing their own sense of self. Their personalities are heavily influenced by their environments both in their home and community. This can cause some feelings of isolation and feelings of “not fitting in” with peers. This can be enhanced ten-fold if the child is struggling with a diagnosis.

Music can be extremely helpful at this time to not only continue the development of regulation/coping skills but also building a sense of self. Through music children can express their emotions and process problems that they might not have the vocabulary to express. Music allows an outlet for these frustrations and can create an atmosphere of safety and understanding without fear of judgment.

At this age they can also begin exploring the concepts of personal boundaries and owning their body through music therapy. Music can allow children to create a better understanding of what makes them comfortable and how those boundaries integrate into day to day life.

Non-age specific goals- Music Without Borders

Music Therapy can be seen in various sites serving a wide range of needs. This can be found in schools to assist the guidance counselor with processing traumas with students, assisting in crisis situations, or within adaptive classrooms working on daily living skills.

Music Therapy can be found for these ages in hospitals and therapeutic residential sites. Therapists here can focus on regulation, understanding how and why they body reacts in various ways, supporting through emotional hard times of suicidal ideations or prolonged treatment for other mental health needs.

Music Therapy can even be found within the home. Clients who struggle or do not have access to transportation are not cut out of having support through music. Music Therapists can come to the residents and work on the needed skills of each client. Having a child with adaptive needs can be stressful and it can be hard to balance your child’s needs while trying to maintain a full life as well.

Children deserve to grow and learn in a place and alongside a force that is as wild and alive as they are.

As music therapists we strive to provide spaces where children can thrive and enjoy exploring their own possibilities. Learning about oneself doesn't have to feel like an impossible and scary task. Sometimes a fantastic self made intro song is just the trick!

Want more info?

Music Therapy Neonatal Care

Music Therapy Early Childhood

Music Therapy Various diagnosis in childhood

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