Thanks for visiting musicfromthestart.com 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: musicfromthestart.com 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 2
I will start part 2 by briefly summarizing last weeks post, i.e., 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 can be a comforting complement to teaching and learning.
Now, more specifically about how and why music is the "ultimate
learning tool." Yesterday, again at S.A.I.L (the autism school
where I am the music therapist), a youngster had spent the whole
morning needing to be calmed and redirected as he was very upset. At
11:30AM it was time for our music therapy (MT) class. From the moment
of our first music piece he sat down, was direct-able and engaged
very actively and happily for the duration of the class. The 30
minutes of our MT class had the youngster more settled and ready to
learn - than the whole morning prior to the MT class.
As I said in my previous post... "So what's going on here?
What is it about music that elicits such responses?"
An aspect of music that I see affect people often, no matter what
the age, is that of music being a primary cognitive experience. What
this means is that when we hear music we have no control over the
feeling and emotions it gives us. All sensory experiences are like
this. When we hear, see, smell, feel and taste things, again, we have
no control over the feeling and emotions sensory experiences give us.
For example... if we are in a mall and a fragrance that reminds us of
our grandmother gets our attention, whether we want to think of our
grandmother or not, we will think of her. We can not control the
thoughts that come about due to the sensory experience.
So, back to S.A.I.L... Remember from part 1, the music pieces
presented in the MT classes are most often repeated so the children
know them, often very well? With music being a primary
cognitive experience, the first reaction the upset youngster had to
the music was that of being attentive, engaged and happy. Why? Because those are the feelings and reactions he associates with music
in general and to certain songs specifically (apart from the feelings and emotions that were upsetting him). And I know he has positive associations to those “certain
when a music therapist, parent or teacher knows specific music will
elicit desired responses, that music can be purposefully used. It
is very common for teachers to report to me that when a child has
“had a rough morning” then settles and actively engages in music,
the rest of the day ends up being productive and positive.
I will end part 2 by summarizing that in my experience the
purposeful use of music provides music therapists, parents and
teachers a means to divert a child's attention towards learning and
positive engagement. Also, once attentive, the child can learn and
experience success from goal oriented music experiences, i.e.,
familiar music chosen purposefully.
Part 3, coming next, will address more specific reasons why music
is an ultimate learning tool.
What do I suggest??? Identify specific songs or music experiences
that you know your children have positive responses to. If you can't, start to use songs or music experiences repetitively and
***What do I mean by music experiences??? Music experiences (apart
from songs) can be: playing instruments, dance, humming, games with
My next prescription??? Think of a sensory experience
that reminds you of something very pleasant, a taste, smell, etc.,
and re-visit it!!! Then think about what we said about primary
cognitive experiences. Try not to think about your pleasant
association when, for example you're smelling pine or listening to
ocean sounds. Good luck!!
Thank you, David
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