Music, Drum and Vocal Work for Children with Special Needs.

1 hour - One on one music

All children can be helped to learn to enjoy and to become involved in music to some extent. Music, Drum and Vocal work can be of inestimable value for children who have difficulties in hearing, seeing, moving, thinking or responding.

A single instrument can possess qualities of sound and tone irresistible enough to reach a child in a direct, uncomplicated manner. Music contributes to: reasoning ability, reading skills, feelings and response, personal fulfillment, language development, the promotion of communication, motor control and physical well-being, positive attitudes to school, socializing and pleasurable experiences in a group. This also enhances and focuses on the child’s sensory needs.

Children who experience severe obstacles in forming relationships with other children, adults and their environment can achieve security and joy in making music.

By means of Music, Drum and Vocal work, The Rythym Room can assist these children to come to focus and develop in many ways by applying a variety of drums and percussions with the child. "Music confers non-musical benefits that have particular consequences for children with special needs.

Therapeutic Characteristics of Music:

  • Music captivates and maintains attention
  • Music stimulates and utilizes many parts of the brain
  • Music is easily adapted to, and can be reflective of, a person's abilities
  • Music structures time in a way that we can understand ("that's the last verse - my exercise session is almost over!")
  • Music provides a meaningful, enjoyable context for repetition
  • Music provides a social context -- it sets up a safe, structured setting for verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Music is an effective memory aid
  • Music supports and encourages movement
  • Music taps into memories and emotions
  • Music and the silences within it provide nonverbal, immediate feedback

Music is success-oriented - people of all ability levels can participate

Music has been successful as a therapeutic intervention for children with disabilities. It has been used with persons, of all ages from preschool to late adulthood and with many types of disabilities whether congenital or adventitious. Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy may play an important role in developing, maintaining and/or restoring physical functioning.

Because music is reinforcing, it can be used to motivate movements or structure exercises which are prescribed in physical rehabilitation. Involvement in drumming and percussions may provide a distraction from the pain discomfort, and anxiety often associated with some physical disabilities.

Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy Techniques:

Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy techniques have been used to develop and maintain joint and muscle function or to increase fine and gross motor coordination and control, increase muscle strength, increase range of motion, improve cardiopulmonary and respiratory functioning, improve oral-motor skills, facilitate relaxation and controlled movement, as well as provide an outlet for emotional self-expression and provide opportunities for social interaction.

Musical experiences presented within Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy sessions can be effective in achieving a variety of physical, emotional and social goals relevant to the individual’s needs capabilities and preferences.

For children with disabilities, music can:

    1. Facilitate relaxation

    Relaxation is an important component in achieving increased range of motion and flexibility. It is also important when working with persons who have difficulties with spasticity. Sedative music has been show to enhance EMG biofeedback relaxation training when compared to EMG biofeedback relaxation training alone for persons. with spastic cerebral palsy . Music experiences that can promote relaxation include listening to carefully chosen music, instrumental improvisation and music-assisted relaxation exercises. Improvised music can match and guide physiological responses (i.e., respiratory rhythm, pulmonary rhythms), toward achieving a more relaxed state. Although most people may find sedative music effective in achieving a relaxed state, this may not be true in all cases. The music therapist is able to recognize and monitor the effects of the presented music on the individual and to adjust the music to ensure that the intended results are achieved.

    2. Increase motor coordination

    Motor coordination can be improved through many musical experiences. The use of selected instruments can improve range of motion as well as fine and gross motor skills through strategically, placing instruments around the individual or using instruments that require the use of specific muscle groups or, body parts. Eye hand coordination can also be improved through the use of instruments that require increased precision in physical motion. The use of rhythmic auditory stimuli has been shown to increase independent, even control of ambulation in individuals with uneven or arrhythmic gait patterns and to facilitate temporal and quantitative muscular control in children with gross motor dysfunction.

    3. Reinforce and provide motivation for physical exercise

    The use of music and rhythm in therapy provides a positive and enjoyable atmosphere for persons with physical disabilities to experience success. Carefully chosen background music can enhance regular physical exercise. Through providing live background music, adaptability and flexibility is maintained so that the music therapist can more easily match the individual's motions in tempo, style and rhythm. Musiccan help provide distraction and diversion from exercises that may be difficult for the individual, provide motivation to maintain participation and make a regular exercise routine seem less tedious.

    4. Foster independence, self-confidence- and self-esteem

    As physical abilities improve, and persons have increased opportunities to practice and acquire new skills and abilities, independence can be fostered and self-confidence and self-esteem enhanced. A positive self-image and self-concept can be developed through music therapy interventions and music therapy activities can be adapted according to the individual's needs and capabilities. This may involve adapting instruments or songs to make them more accessible and to ensure that the musical experience can be successful while continuing to provide challenges to the individual. Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy can help these individuals to develop positive attitudes toward their disabilities and provide opportunities for personal growth.

    5. Develop functional speech and communication abilities

    Singing and speech have many commonalities. The use of vocal exercises used in singing can enhance oral motor skills such as articulation, breath control, and vocal intensity. Through manipulating tempo and rhythm, clarity of speech can be enhanced and the rate of speech can be modified to provide increased communication abilities for the individual. Rhythmic training has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of aphasia. Melodic intonation therapy involves the sung intonation of propositional sentences in such a way that the intoned pattern is similar to the natural prosodic pattern of a sentence when it is spoken. This technique has been shown to be effective in improving word-morpheme performance levels, sentence lengths, articulation skills and intelligibility for language delayed apraxic children and has been an effective treatment for some persons with severe aphasia. Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy has also been effective as a stimulus to promote spontaneous speech with physically challenged children and to promote non-verbal communication through bliss symbols or sign language.

    6. Motivate interaction with others

    Persons with physical disabilities may encounter decreased opportunities and motivation for social interaction. Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy can provide opportunities to interact with peers through a shared experience. Group ensembles provide opportunities to develop peer relationships develop social interaction skills and provide opportunities for cooperation and working together as a group toward a common goal. Group music therapy sessions can also provide opportunities to share personal experiences with others and provide a means and an outlet for appropriate self-expression.

Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy for Children with Autism.

1 hour, one on one music therapy

Music, Drum and Vocal therapy for children with autism

Jody Marsolais’ Rythym Room is equipped to cater to children with autism with Drums and Percussions suited for all children. We colour coordinate drums and other instruments while creating a beat that accommodates the child to enhance focus and development.

Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy is particularly useful with autistic children owing in part to the nonverbal, non threatening nature of the medium. Parallel music activities are designed to support the objectives of the child as observed by the therapist or as indicated by a parent, teacher or other professional. A music therapist might observe, for instance, the child's need to socially interact with others. Musical games like passing a ball back and forth to music or playing sticks and cymbals with another person might be used to foster this interaction. Eye contact might be encouraged with imitative clapping games near the eyes or with activities which focus attention on an instrument played near the face. Preferred music may be used contingently for a wide variety of cooperative social behaviours like sitting in a chair or staying with a group of other children in a circle.

Music, Drum and Vocal Therapy is particularly effective in the development and remediation of speech. The severe deficit in communication observed among autistic children includes expressive speech which may be nonexistent or impersonal. Speech can range from complete mutism to grunts, cries, explosive shrieks, guttural sounds, and humming. There may be musically intoned vocalizations with some consonant-vowel combinations, a sophisticated babbling interspersed with vaguely recognizable word-like sounds, or a seemingly foreign sounding jargon. Higher level autistic speech may involve echolalia, delayed echolalia or pronominal reversal, while some children may progress to appropriate phrases, sentences, and longer sentences with non expressive or monotonic speech. Since autistic children are often mainstreamed into music classes in the public schools, a music teacher may experience the rewards of having an autistic child involved in music activities while assisting with language.

It has been often noted that autistic children evidence unusual sensitivities to music. Some have perfect pitch, while many have been noted to play instruments with exceptional musicality. Music therapists traditionally work with autistic children because of this unusual responsiveness which is adaptable to non-music goals. Some children have unusual sensitivities only to certain sounds.

Since autistic children sometimes sing when they may not speak, music therapists and music educators can work systematically on speech through vocal music activities along with the beats of African drums or percussions. Songs with simple words and beats, repetitive phrases, and even repetitive nonsense syllables can assist the autistic child's language. Meaningful word phrases and songs presented with visual and tactile cues can facilitate this process even further. One six-year old echolalic child was taught speech by having the therapist/teacher sing simple question/answer phrases set to a familiar melody with full rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment.

Autistic children have also made enormous strides in eliminating their monotonic speech by singing songs composed to match the rhythm, stress, flow and inflection of the sentence followed by a gradual fading of the musical cues. Parents and teachers alike can assist the child in remembering these prosodic features of speech by prompting the child with the song to a beat.

While composing specialized songs with drum and percussions it should be remembered that the repertoire of beats and songs are generally repetitive in nature. Even in higher level vocal method books, repetition of simple phrases is common. While the words in such books may not seem critical for the autistic child's survival at the moment, simply increasing the capacity to put words together is a vitally important beginning for these children.

The Rythym Room understands that all singing and drumming experiences are invaluable to the autistic child when songs are presented slowly, clearly, and with careful focusing of the child's attention to the ongoing activity. To hear an autistic child leave a session quietly singing a song or reciting a beat is a pleasant occurrence.

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