Friday, September 7, 2012

Music: The Ultimate Learning Tool - Part 1

Thanks for visiting topics and conversations. Here I want to address music therapy issues and concepts as they relate to preschool, autism and special needs children's needs. Also, I want to let everyone know that my new site: is in it's infancy. Right now there is only one music album available. Very soon I will have my second offering, Lyrical Imagery. This album's history, purpose, etc. is explained on my home page section "free song download."And yes, grab the free download of "The Ocean,"one of the songs on this upcoming album.

Music: The Ultimate Learning Tool  - Part 1

At S.A.I.L., school for autistically impaired learners, Dr Marion Boss came to me one day and said "David, that little song of yours, Line Up, has the children stop what their doing, pick up their chair and move towards the door... We've tried for the longest time to get them to listen like that..." she explained. As teachers play the songs everyday on the CD player "the children respond automatically to the songs' directives - while singing!" I have seen this kind of positive response to music for years, and if you think about it, you have too.

So what's going on here? What is it about music that elicits such responses?  Part 1 here will first talk about some larger, more global reasons why (in my opinion and experience) this occurs.

First, music has been around since the beginning of time. Ancient cultures' first efforts at making music (with voice and crude percussion instruments) was an attempt to mimic nature (including animal) sounds. So most of us do have an innate sense and appreciation for music. Second, groundbreaking work by Alfred Tomatis, MD (see: What Does Your Baby Hear in The Womb) identifies that a developing fetus hears 65% of all sound that is around the mother. So the old notion that the womb is this impenetrable chamber insulated from all sound is inaccurate. Not only do babies hear sound, they feel and are highly affected by mother's voice through bone conduction (vibration). So what is the implication here? Sound, and very importantly mother's voice, become part of the child's comforting (or discomforting) memory. And when you think about it, the sounds (words or music) that a developing fetus hears are most often repetitive, similar to sounds in nature.

So, back to S.A.I.L... Remember I said that songs that I do (live) with the children in our music therapy (MT) class are played everyday on the CD player at different times of the day? So the children are hearing songs with relevant directives, goals and objectives often and repetitively. Think about this... That's what we all did when we were young, i.e., listen to the same song over and over, watch the same video or DVD over and over, etc. This tendency stems from the fact that we humans are comforted by things that are predictable. Predictability equates to us feeling in control and safe. And particularly preschoolers, autistic children and those with special needs benefit greatly from predictability and the resulting experience of control.

I will end part 1 by summarizing that in my experience the purposeful use of music provides preschool children including those with autism and other special needs feelings of control and safety. Because music is so emotionally and physically engrained in us, and when heard often and repetitively, music is a wonderful complement to teaching and learning. Those are just a few reasons why music can then be a productive vehicle for teaching and development.

Part 2, coming next week, will address more specific reasons why music is an ultimate learning tool.

What do I suggest??? Use special music with your children - repetitively and often!

My next prescription???   Watch this YouTube performance. Even though this is not about children's music exactly - enjoy!!!      

Thank you, David

AND!!!! Please share with others, like us on Facebook  and follow us on Twitter ... Thanks, David P.