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Learning through Music Therapy

The Champion Centre recognises that a musically nurturing environment can provide ongoing, insightful, caring support for parents, providing musical strategies to help them interact playfully with their child.

The music programme which is offered to children individually as well as within a group, provides opportunities for playfulness, warmth, humour and love and gives the child a crucial experience of success, helping to build self esteem.

This programme recognises that each child has an inherent musicality regardless of disability.  Music is a powerful non-verbal form of communication which helps children to feel included and safe. 

A video about the music programme can be seen here:

Reports and Stories.........

Notes from Terms 1 & 2, 2015


This report includes stories of two young boys with Down syndrome in our Transition to School programme. Benson has a beautiful smile and wonderful sense of humour and he knows what he wants when he comes to the Music room. Ethan loves coming to his individual music sessions and smiles broadly as Julie and his mother Claire accompany him down the hallway singing a little marching song. Read the full story how Music helps children and their families.


Super Cool Young Man with Rhythm

Rohan was born very prematurely and had a really rough start in life.  Thanks to the support of his mum, Amy, he quickly showed he was boy with rhythm.  You can see more of Rohan on our Facebook page


Ayla's Story - Listen to Me

ayla Ayla has just turned four years old and is a very determined young lady with quite definite opinions which she shares easily with those around her in a clear voice.  She has little time for those who see her powered wheelchair and assume she cannot do much for herself because, indeed, she has a fine intelligence and much to tell the world.

 Two years ago, however, the frequent bouts of chest infections that landed her in hospital almost every other week meant that she barely spoke above a whisper.  She couldn't breathe well enough to speak up or to clear her lungs of the microbes that made her health so poor.  She was so weak that she could barely move without getting exhausted.

 As part of Ayla's team at the Champion Centre Linda, the music specialist, noticed that Ayla had a very fine-tuned sense of beat. Whenever there was music being played, Ayla's feet would start moving in time and Linda realised that if she could harness that response, she could perhaps get Ayla's hands, arms and body to move better.

Ayla was too weak at first to hold a shaker or a beater for a drum, so Linda used a computer tablet to help her make a noise with just a light tap of the fingers, and her family did the same at home, giving her a chance to have her own 'disco' by selecting her favourite songs.

To strengthen Ayla's legs and feet, Linda tied bells onto her ankles so they tinkled when Ayla tapped her feet in time; and she encouraged her to beat a drum with her feet instead of with her hands.  To build strength in her arms and hands, she offered rakau sticks that could be gently tapped together, and soon Ayla was able to beat a drum with a beater.  She used ribbon sticks while she tapped her feet, swung her knees, and jived her shoulders to complex Latin rhythms.  And at home she used a keyboard to develop her fine motor skills.

Linda and her family also encouraged Ayla to sing by giving her a chance to complete the notes at the end of each of the lines of a well-known song or nursery rhyme. At first she couldn't get enough air into her lungs to make a sound, but little by little, over several months, she began to be able to draw larger and larger breaths.  At home, her family gave Ayla small pipes and a harmonica that helped her make music as she developed her ability to control her breathing. As that control grew, Ayla was able to increase the number of words she could say before pausing for breath and soon the world began to know exactly what this switched on little girl has to say for herself.

Over time, Ayla has grown stronger and more verbal. Now when she is hospitalised, they know they can rely on Ayla to tell them what she wants and how she feels.  Ayla's parents are grateful for all the help they have received from the Champion Centre, and credit the Music Programme with helping to show them the impressive thinking and talking skills their daughter possesses and for giving them ideas for things to do at home.

Further information about the music programme:

Some of the work of the music programme can also be seen in the article to be found here, which was published in July 2013 in Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education.

Julie Wylie's CD's:

Champion Centre music specialist Julie Wylie’s CD’s for children and their parents are available for sale from the Centre with $5.00 from every sale donated to the Centre. You can view a list of CD's here. For more on how to purchase please contact the Centre here or phone the office (03)383 6867.


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