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Rhythm of Life Children’s Music Therapy – St. Louis
September 13, 2016
Children’s Music Therapy
By: Gabrielle Fales
This summer the St. Louis office kicked off the first ever Children’s Music Therapy program. The program has two sessions each week, one for children ages one to three and another for ages four to six. Though it is a relatively new program, it was evident what an impact the sessions have had on the children and their parents.
Music has a way of bringing people together. It encourages collaboration, helps provide a way to communicate when words are not enough, and it often brings out the best in people. All of this and more was apparent at Children’s Music Therapy at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Entering the room to sounds of soft guitar strumming and light chatter, it was immediately apparent the three women leading the session were passionate about their jobs – and talented. The kids (Jonathan, Logan, and Abigail) and their moms came in one by one and the room was quickly filled with energy.
For an hour the participants were led in songs, hand motions, and dances. A highlight of the session was when the kids were able to pick out their own musical instruments to play along with the song being played. Logan picked out two hand bells and began to shake them both excitedly. His mom cheered and clapped for him- then explained that he typically has trouble doing movements with both hands simultaneously. But over the past few weeks, she had seen major improvement in this area, she thinks, thanks to music therapy.
The children were able to practice taking turns strumming the guitar and playing the big drum. They followed directions by tap, tap, tapping along to the stick song. And they let out some energy by dancing around the room. It was impressive to see the wide variety of skills the children were being taught through song and dance- and even more impressive that they were able to have fun while doing it all!
The personalized songs and activities allowed each child to feel they were receiving attention while, at the same time, the group dynamic helped to provide a sense of community and encouraged inclusion.