January is Music Therapy Advocacy Month, so we thought this would be a great time to share some of the exciting things happening in our music therapy program at Metro Music Makers. We are excited to have recently added a new music therapist, Kristen Van Dyke, to our team of therapists. Our growing specialized staff allows us to reach everyone from babies to geriatric patients. This week we will share about some of our younger clients; stay tuned next week for interesting information about the music therapy groups we lead at an assisted living facility.
We are honored to work with patients at the Center for Visually Impaired (CVI), including a two-year-old group comprised of children with visual impairments, and an infant/toddler group where the children have visual impairments combined with other medical issues. Kristen was gracious to give us a glimpse into what these groups look like.
“Music Therapy can address a wide range of goals in a setting like this. Some of them include, but are not limited to the following: to increase listening skills, motor skills, socialization, mobility and orientation, self-expression, self-awareness and positive family interactions. Parents/caregivers usually sit with their child on their laps and interact with them throughout the session.
“Each song/activity is designed with those different goals in mind. For example, there is a song we do around a large gathering drum where the song cues the children to play as a group, but then also individually. It encourages them to listen for when it is their turn, to resist the urge to play while another child is having their “drum solo,” aurally track where the sound is coming from, and really just to be aware of the others around them.
“I plan song interventions that are a multi-sensory experience. For example, they love holding instruments of different textures and sounds. We may do a song that instructs them so shake their instruments high, low, side to side, fast, slow, three times, etc. Also, during the “Hello and Goodbye” song, they get an opportunity to strum my guitar. This allows them to hear my sound and reach out for the guitar independently to feel/strum the strings. I enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces when it is their turn and they get to play by themselves!
“One of my favorite things about these groups is seeing the parents, grandparents and children interact together. It is my hope that some of these families take some of the songs home and continue that positive interaction.”