FAQ – What Happens in a Music Therapy Assessment?

I am often asked this question several times a month by teachers and parents. They have children in school with disabilities who have been recommended for a music therapy evaluation, but many of them have not been exposed to music therapy and sometimes do not even know that it exists, especially in their school district. I have always been happy to give them a brief description of what I do when I come to see their child for the music therapy assessment.

Music therapy assessments take many different forms and may include different elements depending on the therapeutic setting. Music therapy in the public schools, for example, is partially governed by state and federal guidelines. It is considered a related service and a music therapist is part of a team of teachers and therapists who work with a student according to an Individual Education Plan (IEP). An Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee must obtain consent from the parent or guardian to ask for a music therapy assessment in order to begin the process.

Music therapy assessment procedures will vary between types of client populations, but there are several key areas that should be considered when conducting any music therapy assessment. An assessment should include a review of the client history, including origin of disabilities, medical or psychosocial issues, current therapeutic strategies and existing goals. The assessment will also gather remarks and observations from teachers, staff, and parents about how they have seen the student respond to music at school or at home. The majority of an assessment should be comprised of a comparison between client responses during music and during regular activities that do not normally include music.

Music therapy assessments in the public school setting require that the evaluator look for significant or unique differences in client performance on specific objectives as described in their IEP. I explain to teachers and parents that the assessment should take place in the client’s main classroom or wherever therapy would be conducted. The assessment process including consulting with staff, observation of the client in the classroom, and music activities usually takes from one to two hours. In order to accurately assess a client’s responses to the specially developed music activities, the therapist will choose several specific areas of need as described by teachers, parents and the IEP objectives to address during the assessment.

The music therapist should try and observe the client working in the classroom through several different activities. During this time, the therapist can obtain an overall sense of how the client participates with peers and interacts with teachers and work tasks. The therapist will be looking for patterns in expressive and receptive communication, general ability to focus attention and follow directions, and some indication of academic abilities. The client should also be observed working on specific IEP objectives so that data may be collected and used for comparison with data gathered from work during music therapy activities.

The music therapist will conduct a music therapy session with the client that will last twenty to thirty minutes. During this time, the therapist will typically use an acoustic guitar as the primary accompaniment instrument unless a piano or other client preferred instrument are available and more appropriate. Other instruments such as hand drums, shakers, and bells are used throughout the session as both accompaniment and for active engagement with the client. Age appropriate songs and music activities with supportive visual aids will be used to address specific IEP objectives. The music therapy session may be structured similarly to other music therapy sessions which include an opening and closing song along with the specific music activities that were chosen to address the student’s IEP objectives. A comparison will be made between the student’s behavior and performance in the non-musical setting and the structured music activities. The comparison of data will then determine the significance and/or uniqueness of music strategies in helping the student to make progress on targeted IEP objectives.

This outlines a music therapy assessment process for a child in the public school. The conclusion of the assessment will result in an official recommendation to the ARD committee explaining how the client does or does not require music therapy services in order to make adequate progress on IEP objectives. The ARD committee must take the recommendation under consideration and decide upon the implementation of services and, if approving music therapy, determine the amount of time the student will receive therapy.

Music Therapy As a Form of Treatment

We mostly describe music as the art of putting sounds together and organizing the sounds so they could bring a response to whoever listens to them. But is there anything else that music could do aside from simply making people listen to sounds and respond to it? Can music go beyond its boarders? As a matter of fact, it can, in the way of music therapy. Music is now being used not just for therapy but for contributing to a person’s emotional well-being.

Did you know that music can be a pain reliever? Aside from the expansive role of music in our lives, it is being used as a way of relieving pain for cancer patients. Cancer patients listen to music in order to divert their attention from the pain from which they suffer. Music therapy can be used to treat patients with emotional disorders. Music brings a sensation that helps make a person calm and comfortable. These soothing feelings allow the patient to be free from emotional distress. Eventually, music helps alleviate the cause of the patient’s disorder.

Music Therapy For Mental Disorders

Music therapy is also being used as a treatment for mental disorders such as anxiety and dementia. Dementia is a brain disorder that results in the deterioration of the affected individual’s mental disposition along with emotional disturbance. Dementia, however, isn’t the only disease that can be treated by this form of alternative therapy; it is also known for its ability to help relieve symptoms of pain and anxiety in many terminally ill patients.

There are many alternative treatment methods and natural remedies that can be prescribed to help cure any disorder, whether mental, physical or emotional. There are a number of methodologies and therapeutic modalities that can be used, but since music therapy does not conflict with other traditional therapies, it can be used in conjunction with other treatment methods.

Ayurveda Healing Music Therapy – How Music Soothes the Savage Beast

Ayurveda healing music is an age–old part of Ayurveda, the 5000 year holistic natural healing medical system, which is the primary medical system of India. Healing music therapy promotes the balance of health, happiness, and beauty.

You might be asking,”how does music relate to Ayurvedic therapy?” In Ayurvedic medicine it is believed that music can stimulate the pituitary gland which is a gland in the brain. This gland is about the size of a pea and secretes hormones and regulates homeostasis in the human body.

The mode of Indian music which Ayurvedic medicine uses to make melodies is called Raga . The tones are sharper and flatter than in Western scales. The raga is defined as “that which colors the mind” and there is a spiritual connection that our Western scales do not have. Ragas are believed to fight aging, pain, insomnia, schizophrenia and epilepsy. It can even cure a headache, tension and abdominal pain. Ayurvedic music therapy is a proven method of controlling our blood pressure, and the function of the liver.

Modern western science and medicine are discovering that music actually can have healing powers. Music therapy can treat a person with special needs in physical and mental health, special education, and rehabilitation. It is now accepted as a form of treatment within orthodox medical practice.

Ayurveda utilizes music to vibrate the cells of the body. It is through these vibrations that the diseased person’s consciousness can be changed in a positive manner to promote health. Light music can improve efficiency and concentration while working and the right kind of music helps you to refresh and relax. Music can help control negative aspects such as worry,and anger.

There is a tendency to downgrade this form of holistic natural healing due to their irrational and unscientific nature but one cannot deny that music as a whole is capable of improving happiness, peace, health and concentration.

Music Therapy Benefits

World wide, people love and listen to music. It touches each and every soul. To many people in many cultures, music is an important aspect of life. But most people become shocked when they hear of the term Music therapy. It seems that this Therapy is still an alien subject to many people across the world. As the term therapy suggests, Music through Therapy is a process through which a therapist helps a client improve or maintain his or her health. Researchers in Music have noted that music has an excellent power in can expelling diseases. Therapy is used to help people suffering from conditions such as psychiatric disorders, medical problems, sensory impairments, developmental abilities and other health related ailments.

The history of music goes way back in time from the days when David played the harp to rid King Saul of an evil spirit. And as early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, played music for his sick patients. In the 17th century, the scholar Robert Burton discovered that music was instrumental in healing illnesses. And in most parts of the world, especially in South America and Africa, medicine men employed chants and dances as way of healing patients. Music as we know it began during the first and second world wars. In this period, Musicians would travel to hospitals and play for soldiers suffering from various ailments as well as physical trauma.

The practical applications of music for healing are irresistible. Cutting-edge music therapy helps the autistic to rehearse their emotions and helps patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease to walk.Music uses a lot of techniques in dealing with health related ailments. The most common techniques include music improvisation, the use of pre-composed songs and receptive listening to music. One case where music therapy was used was in the healing of a thirty-five year old woman who had chest problems. This woman was lying in bed moaning in pain, but when her little boy with his drum set began playing the drums for her, she suddenly felt better. And after a few hours, the woman was able to get up and complete some chores in the house.

To those unfamiliar with music therapy, the idea of a woman being healed by a little boy playing his drum set is hilarious to say the least. But studies have shown that music positively affects a patient’s emotions since it impacts some portions of the brain. Hence that is why a lot of stroke patients respond favorably to music. In fact, recent studies that were conducted proved that out of fifty stroke patients, thirty-five patients who were exposed to music therapy fully recovered.

With all the benefits that music therapy has, it is no surprise that this field is growing rapidly in popularity. Many hospitals now are turning towards music as the cheapest tool for healing and relieving pain in patients. And more countries are now recruiting experienced music composers, producers and singers into the field of music therapy. In United States, for instance, those who can qualify for positions as music therapists are required to have proficiency in guitar, piano, reading and music theory. It is proven belief that everyone can respond to music.