LEARNING THROUGH MUSICAL PLAY
Our Learning through Musical Play programme recognises that each child has an inherent musicality regardless of disability. Music is the child's first language. It is a language of the emotions. A baby is born to be a 'musical play partner' and can take the lead and interact musically from birth (Trevarthen). When a parent copies the gestures and sounds that their baby gives, this validates their baby's offerings. Musical activities can calm and regulate child and parent, support relationships between parents and children, and provide a nurturing environment with opportunities for learning and development.
The programme engages children and their parents in playful activities that support each child’s individual developmental goals and also gives parents strategies they can use at home to support daily living. Both individual and group activities allow children to express their sense of self and be a leader. Music is a powerful non-verbal form of communication which helps children to feel included and safe.
The Art of Musical Intervention video gives an idea of the thinking behind the music programme and why it is so effective in supporting children's development.
Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education, (July 2013).
Research snapshot: Music Beyond the Music Room
Purposeful actions (tying shoes, closing doors, giving a hug) have a shape: a beginning and middle and an end. And so does a musical phrase. In addition, almost any action can be enhanced musically by adding elements such as rhythm, pitch, or dynamics; or by modifying the tempo (speed) or timbre (sound texture). We know that the music specialists at the Champion Centre use music to support children’s developmental progress; but what about the other therapists? Are they using music or making their actions and activities with children musical? Well, yes, they are! Almost all of them!
For her Honours project at the University of Canterbury, Naomi Harmer spent 6 weeks at the Champion Centre observing 27 of the sessions run by Occupational Therapists (OTs), Physiotherapists (PTs), Early Intervention Teachers (EITs), and Technology Supported Learning Specialists as they worked with children and families. She made a note of every activity where one or more of the elements of music occurred and how long that activity lasted. Time spent on musically enhanced activities was greatest among the sessions conducted by the technology supported learning specialists (on average 64% of each session), because so many of the programmes they used came with a music sound track. The PT and OT sessions came next, with musical components, on average, more than half of the time (64%); and the EITs added musical elements just over a third (35%) of the time. Many of these therapists clearly knew they were being musical and were consciously adding elements of music to their work; while others were surprised but pleased to learn that they were!