Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Music Teachers and Music Therapists: helping children

Music Teachers and Music Therapists: Helping Children Together Author(s): Allyson Patterson Source: Music Educators Journal, Vol. 89, No. 4 (Mar., 2003), pp. 35-38 Published by: MENC: The National Association for Music Education Stable URL: Accessed: 11/11/2008 18:08

This article helps to clearly define music therapy and how it helps clients by using music and sound to improve their mental and physical health. The American Music Therapy Association defines it as “the prescribed use of music by a qualified person to effect positive changes in the physiological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of individuals…”

The author devotes a lot of time discussing the difference between a music educator and a music therapist which most of us music specialists are aware of (educators teach/instruct on the activity of performing music and therapists use musical means to address disease or disorder in clients). Nevertheless, the distinction between the two is crucial.

Much like the article I mentioned in my other blog, music therapists use music as a tool to strengthen a functional area of a client’s life through “participation in musical experiences”. As in the other blog, this therapy uses cognitive rather than a physiological associations to music in order to build skills. It is not that they are exposed to music and suddenly they are cured; it is through performing and listening to music that clients associate the music to a function or skill.
Clients/students use songs to learn and retain information, and therapists address non-musical goals/needs through participation in musical activities. For example, clients may learn the process of tying a shoelace through the use of a song. It is also mentioned that students retained more information from music or song based sources than from regular speech-based sources. This resonated with me if only that I believe most of us can recall a nursery rhyme faster than we can recall what we had for breakfast.


Lee Bartel said...

I would have appreciated a bit more of a summary of he main arguments of the article you are reviewing. But in terms of what I gather, is the point only music therapists "helping" music teachers? What is the place of the music educators adopting some more music therapists values and approaches?


devon said...

Good question. The author of the article spends a lot of time laying out the borders of what an educator is responsible for and what a music therapist is responsible for. The issue is raised that neither really wants to (or should) cross into the other's territory. So therapists should stick to therapy and educators to stick to educating and "never the twain shall meet..."
The author does raise the ideal that they should work in close communication to better serve clients and both of the fields. Nevertheless, these borders remain.

To answer your questions, I got from the article that music therapists are music therapists and should not try to fill the shoes of an educator. Likewise, an educator is an educator and should not (and probably doesn't want to) try to conduct therapy.

I hope that was helpful.

Lee Bartel said...

Thanks for the response. One of the issues is that both professions often feel a bit beleaguered and somewhat in need of "propping" themselves up and their identity by definingtheir profession as something only they can do. Some of that may be evident here. But the main suggestion I am making is that music teachers could benefit from adopting some aspects of music therapy - being more "client" focused - rather than art focused, being more improvisational based rather then replicative, and examining the values, goals and priorities to include those that are aimed at the social, the community, the psychological, the human needs of the students.


Tess Dunn said...

Dear Lee,
Thank you for posting this article. I found it very interesting as I am currently in my second year of a Masters in Music Therapy course and I'm writing my thesis on the transition of being a music teacher to becoming a music therapist. Researching each of their roles, as well as having dual roles.
I believe that there is a thin borderline between music teachers and music therapists and my training so far as a therapist has helped me so much in understanding some of my students that I teach. I agree with you that music teachers could benefit from adopting some aspects of music therapy and use it within their teaching. I think it would help understand their students needs, helping them grow as a person and as a musician.
If you have any more thoughts about this article, I would love to hear from you.
Kind regards,