Music therapy is based on the understanding that all human beings are musical – that is, we all have an innate response to music, which remains unchanged by illness, disability or emotional state. Our music therapists use musical improvisation informed by therapeutic theories to engage, reach out and support each person, whatever their disability, difficulties or diagnosis.
In music therapy, children and family members can experience music improvised uniquely for and with them. They will have the opportunity to interact and communicate musically and to express themselves in whatever way they can – using their body, voice or percussion instruments. Most of all, they’ll be forming a creative and therapeutic relationship with their music therapist.
A session may include...
- Improvising music
- Writing songs
- Composing dance tracks
- Making music CDs
- Relaxing through music
- Singing favourite songs
- Working with family and as a group.
Music therapy can help to...
- Provide a means of communication and self-expression, when words are not possible or are inadequate
- Increase interaction for children with communication difficulties
- Raise self-esteem and dignity
- Encourage control and choice
- Lower anxiety levels and promote a sense of well-being
- Encourage physical and cognitive development
- Add a spiritual dimension, helping to give people’s lives meaning, purpose and a sense of completion.
How music therapy helps families
EACH Norfolk Music Therapist Jane Rous-Milligan explains, “Music provides positive changes in the emotional, cognitive and social needs of the people I work with from babies to grandparents. Many of the children and young people I work with are unable to talk but music gives them a language and a voice; it’s for people who don’t have or find words difficult.
“If a young person comes in and bangs the drums and cymbals I’ll play along with them and reflect their mood as I want them to feel heard. If I tried to play something quiet or happy it wouldn’t reflect how they were feeling and they wouldn’t feel understood and heard.
“Through using music I can connect and interact and encourage expression. Making choices in life is limited by illness and disability but through music therapy, they can take control. Music therapy isn’t just for the children and young people directly accessing EACH’s care; it also plays a vital role in supporting family members caring for a child or young person with a life-threatening illness.
“Music therapy means so much to the families I work with. In a recent letter to the hospice care team from a mum, she wrote:
Jane came to us and began what can only be described as a magical and unimaginable journey. In this age of financial pressure on services, I would like to champion the value of such therapies, which for my son opened his heart, his world and his voice.
‘For children like my son, much of his time is spent in situations of medical intervention, investigation or treatment which makes the precious time experiencing something so therapeutic and non medical, extremely important. I am so grateful that this piece of work was given the appropriate amount of time, over a period of years in fact, for I know with some certainty that had this block of work been time pressured, his full potential would not and could not have been unlocked. It was Jane’s gentle patience, instinctive understanding and quiet unobtrusive persistence that helped my little boy open up before my eyes.
'Words could never describe what music therapy meant to us, how it touched my son’s heart, soul and spirit but my only wish is that other children might be given a similar opportunity to explore what lays within them.’