Music Therapy Made Me A Better Music Teacher

Music Therapy made me a better music teacher!

Music Therapy
Music Therapy

Music Therapy is all about using music as a tool to promote emotional, physical, psychological and cognitive development.  Being able to connect with a person using music is about finding non-verbal communication; a different channel to connect us inside, which cannot be found nor produced by using words.
 
When I first started working as a music therapist with children with developmental delays and autism, I had to let go of my “self consciousness-self judgement” as a musician. I had to start focusing in the non-verbal musical interaction with my patient -give my 100% so I could create such interaction- and stop worrying about the way I was playing the guitar. Repertoire became crucial to elicit responses and interaction; and my technique playing the instrument rather unimportant. My “performance” became secondary.
 
Soon I discovered the rapport and empathy in learning my patient’s interests and needs; which in turn promoted a connection and a powerful interaction. It was at this point when I understood the power of using the right song during a session. To play any random song for my patient did not help us reach the point of non-verbal interactions and emotional sharing through our musical channel. The right choice of song was vital and had to be carefully selected.
 
I remember Jonathan, a 5 year old child with Aspergers’ syndrome who did not care for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom -a very popular song-book among children his age- but instead he connected in music when listening to Dave Matthew’s band. Few years after practicing music therapy I started teaching music and it didn’t take me long to want to apply this formula into my lessons.
Being a Music therapist taught me that finding the right song for a child who has autism, is the perfect path to the individual’s interaction, communication and self expression. Music therapy has helped me being a better music teacher because it tuned me to understand how the right song for my student is the “empathy” channel to that musical interaction, and the key that connects us teachers with who they are as student-musicians to keep their ongoing motivation and interest.

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