Byron Perdikis and Jolan Ormrod use an interactive whiteboard computer also used in music therapy at nambour Special School.
Byron Perdikis and Jolan Ormrod use an interactive whiteboard computer also used in music therapy at nambour Special School. John Mccutcheon

Music has special place in young lives

SOMEONE once said: “Music is what feelings sound like”. And no one knows that better than the parents, teachers and staff of Nambour Special School.

Nambour Special School coordinator Adrien Ford said the children really enjoyed the interactive music-based lessons – evidenced by the smiles and excitement on the children’s faces while they played with their interactive whiteboard.

“Teaching children rhymes early is very important in helping with lots of concepts they will use at school,” Adrien said while watching her students play.

“Music is a universal language so you don’t need a strong voice to interact.”

Adrien said music interaction was ideal for children with physical and verbal disabilities as they were able to interact with their peers better through the means of sound.

Sunshine Coast special schools have been incorporating music into their programs for many years with positive results.

New research confirms the rhythm of a beat and the lull of a gentle and soothing lullaby can put smiles on all children’s faces but especially those with disabilities.

Playgroup Australia’s Kate Williams recently completed a Queensland University of Technology study into the effectiveness of small-group music therapy with parents and their young children with a disability.

“This is the most substantial research project both in sample size and in measures that focus on the interaction between parent and child,” Ms Williams said from her Brisbane base.

“The main reason why music is effective with children with disabilities is that it is strength-based. You can show the parent the strengths within the child and not focus on their limitations.”

Ms Williams said she had seen many improvements that music had made to the social interaction of the children within the research project.

“It improves their reaction with their peers and enhances their awareness of their overall peer environment,” she said.

“With children, music can motivate them to work harder and what is great is the environment you can create with song and dance.

“It can put the kids at ease to try new things.

“For parents, it gives them the opportunity to delight in what their children can do with music.”

Nambour Special School staff members have noticed how the incorporation of music early into a child’s life can enhance both their socialisation and learning abilities during their school years.

The interactive whiteboard gives the children an opportunity to play and learn by integrating visual stimuli with a wide range of sounds and voices.

Put simply, music therapy gives children with disabilities on the Sunshine Coast the opportunity to communicate in an essentially non-verbal way.

Woombye Music Studio music therapist Cassandra Huntley said that starting a child’s musical development early on in the learning path was a very important consideration.

“For children with hyperactive disorders and behavioural disabilities, music therapy can provide a fun and interactive way to focus attention and behaviour,” Mrs Huntley said.

But no matter how many academics and specialists tell you how great music can be for children, the proof is in the faces of the children when the music touches their souls.

Music Therapy Tips

  • Start incorporating music from birth
  • Music abilities develop critically within 0-11 years.
  • Choose age-appropriate methods with age-appropriate goals
  • Group work is the most effective
  • For children with behavioural disabilities, music therapy can effectively provide a path to focusing attention and modifying behaviour
  • Have fun ... that is what it is about.

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