“Music does not represent life: it is life (Charles Abes)
Music is an art that enables expression, connection, and communication. Music therapy is a methodical process of intervention, based on the use of musical experiences in the framework of the relationship that develops between the caregiver and the patient, in order to enable change and growth of mental and physical health.
One of the assumptions of music therapy is that music has a psychological and physiological impact on people: basic elements of music such as rhythm, melody, and harmony “echo” in the person’s body and soul in different manners and together create an arousing or relaxing experience with organizing as well as integrative characteristics.
Another assumption of music therapy is that music derives and is produced from the inner world of the patient both when he is active (singing, playing, moving) and also when he is passive – listening to the music that he chooses or expressing preferences regarding a certain type of music. The role of the caregiver is to listen, understand and absorb the patient’s music and use it in creating a framework of therapeutic dialogue.
Within the framework of working with children with various levels of visual impairment, there are also children that suffer from delayed development. Here the developmental aspect of music therapy is even more valid since these children do not experience enough development of mutual contact skills:
- Initial interactions develop at the beginning of the baby’s life and are based on eye contact between the child and the adult.
- Spontaneous vocal dialogue is first initiated by the adult and afterward by the child himself.
- Imitation and mirroring of the child’s spontaneous behavior.
The mutual relationship in communication between two individuals is the basis for normal communicational and emotional development.
According to various research studies of children with delayed development, one of the main reasons for lack of self-confidence, fear, lack of communication initiative, seclusion, restlessness, and so on, derive from the little experience in these skills. Therefore, one of the aims of music therapy in the framework of ELIYA is to compensate for the gaps in emotional and communicational development that were created as a result of an impairment or delay.
Using music as an expressive and communicative art and as a “natural” media for the child, enables bypassing the existing impairments and motivating the child to be an initiator and create communication with his surroundings and in accordance with his level, without words. Indeed, through music, it is possible to communicate also with people who speak different languages.
Using music as therapy is done in a large variety of ways, including singing, playing, and listening, while incorporating movement and acting, and is decided according to the emotional development level among children that varies from patient to patient.
Therapy takes place in groups where most of the children can act more independently, thus creating interaction between the children. The number of participants varies between the different groups. The composition of the group is determined according to the common denominator in the developmental needs of the children. In addition, each child has a personal program that is implemented by the caregiver in the framework of the kindergarten.
If there is difficulty in incorporating the child in group therapy, it is possible to provide individual therapy where the goal is to later incorporate the child in a group framework. Individual therapy is accompanied by guidance by the teacher and her assistant, in order to implement the therapeutic plan during the week.
The therapy process includes identifying the developmental stage, taking into account the existing abilities, and creating an appropriate therapeutic environment to the needs of the child, while including implementation of therapeutic principles in the framework of the kindergarten, enabling a fruitful base for integrative work and developmental progress.
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