What insights into music did you discover in the early days?
Discoveries with neuroscience have shown that music can contribute to each child and parent's wellbeing. When the child is in a calm, regulated space then they can learn. The elements of music can be used in very specific ways to promote well-being and regulation. Musical rhythm, melody/tune, dynamics (loud or soft), form (clear beginning, middle and end of a song or piece of music), the specific sounds of instruments and harmony all have an impact on the brain's systems. Music that has a steady beat, close to a resting heart rate, encourages the lower parts of the brain and the body to come into synch and produce a feeling of calm. Depending on how they are used, they can either contribute to regulating or deregulating a child's systems.
You refer to yourself as the conductor, what do you mean?
I like being the conductor not the leader; the parent is the leader as they can carry the music on at home or anywhere. For example, today I asked one of the dad’s in the baby programme if he sung with his son. He said he had a terrible voice and I said, ‘I’ve heard you, you can sing.’ His eyes lit up. Your wife and your voices are the most important voices in this world for your child. He looked really excited. ‘I have a guitar at home, but I never touch it. My nanny lived next door to us when we were growing up and she sang to me all the time,’ he said. Then the whole story came out about the Māori side of his whānau and how his nanny played the guitar and sang him lullabies when he was growing up.
Have any graduates of the Centre gone on to pursue music?
We have a number of children who have grown up to be incredibly musical. Thomas Eves is the chief trumpeter at the CSO, and Jasmine Butcher is studying music at university. Another boy, Rohan Soper aged 17, who was born premature, has been learning percussion and has sat an exam through Trinity College. India Neville, now 21, is studying at a music academy in Canada.
Where to now for music at the Champion Centre?
I believe everything has a season. I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to and wanted to do, and now it’s time to bow out. Music at the Centre is in very capable hands, as we have five talented music specialists, led by Sarah Marra. When I started at the Champion Centre, I was crying out, ‘please consider music.’ Now wherever I go people are singing and using music. All the therapists are using music in the most incredible ways.
What’s in store for Julie Wylie now?
I’ve been on this journey and it’s way bigger than me. I have my musical school in the community and run workshops for teachers and parents. I have also developed a Postgraduate Certificate in the Psychology of Musical Play Therapy. I am writing a lot and there are numerous stories to tell about my work with children at the Champion.
Julie captures it poignantly when she says;
‘every vignette is so special and every child I’ve met has taught me so much. It’s not about their limitations but about how children can fly musically. When you allow them to find their voice and let them be the leader, they take you on the most miraculous journey.’
We express our gratitude to Julie for all her years of passion and dedication to our Champion Centre families.
The Champion Centre team of specialists offer children the best possible start to their lives to be able to reach their full potential. The total funding the centre receives from Government falls $7 000 short for each child at the centre. This $700 000 shortfall relies on fundraising and donations.
Call Karon Storr on 03 383 6867 to discuss ways to give.
The Champion Centre is administered by the Christchurch Early Intervention Trust, and is registered with the Charities Commission (CC22708). Gifts of over $5 are eligible for tax rebates.
© 2019 The Champion Centre