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"Playful Healing: The Power of Music in a Playroom Setting"

In recent years, the field of music therapy has gained significant recognition for its profound impact on the well-being and development of children. This therapeutic approach utilizes the innate power of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. When combined with a playful and nurturing playroom (enter Back to Play!), music therapy becomes an even more potent tool for enhancing children's lives. Furthermore, music and sound exploration in general are critical for children's creative expression and freedom to exist LOUDLY in their worlds. In this blog post, we delve into the world of music therapy and expression for children, focusing specifically on its application in our playroom.

 

Introducing Positive Note Music Therapy

I’m Dustin Politte-Bender, the owner and Lead Therapist of Positive Note Music Therapy; the one and only music therapy company in Jefferson County, also serving St. Louis County and St. Louis City.


We are so excited about our upcoming partnership between Back to Play and Positive Note Music Therapy. We will be offering two weekly music therapy groups for kids ages 3-6 and 7-10 on Wednesdays from 10-10:30 and 10:45-11:15. The groups will work on developmentally appropriate goals including communication, social/emotional, cognitive, and motor skills.

One of the best things about music therapy is how motivating it can be by “hiding” the therapy in play and games that kids naturally do already. This way they’re able to play and explore in a way that our board-certified music therapist has designed to maximize their opportunities to exercise these important skills. Singing becomes an opportunity to work on eye contact and appropriate greetings at the beginning of our session. Playing instruments becomes an opportunity to practice sharing in addition to impulse control as they’re cued to play or stop during the song. Dancing becomes a way to work on one-step directions, creative expression, and independent choices. When you put all of this together and personalize it to the kids we come out with a lot of fun, growth, and connection!

While considering our groups remember, music therapy can be for everyone! This group is designed to be inclusive of any ability level, style of learning, or experience with music. If your kids find music motivating and fun, then they will get something out of our groups!

Lastly, we’d like to make it clear that this is a pilot program for Back to Play but we hope to have more opportunities in the future! We want this to be a trial in order to learn more about the interest and needs of the community. Even if you can’t take part in our summer series reach out to let us know what you’d be interested in seeing in the future and of course, stay tuned for more exciting things to come!

 

Ready for the high notes?

  • Promoting Emotional Expression and Regulation: Research conducted within the past five years consistently highlights the role of music in helping children express and regulate their emotions. Through engaging in music-making activities, children are encouraged to explore and communicate their feelings in a nonverbal manner. This form of expression provides a safe space for emotional release, fostering self-awareness and emotional regulation skills. As a grown-up, haven't we all needed that time listening to music to more accurately express our emotions that we can't quite seem to articulate? Picture your commute to and from work; depending on your mood you may listen to a certain playlist or even specific podcasts, white noise, or silence (yes this counts!) It can directly impact both how you feel, and how you are expressing those feelings, and begin to regulate your system. Even as adults, we do this subconsciously, and therefore, so do our children because they are intuitive and smart little humans!


  • Enhancing Cognitive Abilities: Numerous studies have demonstrated the cognitive benefits of music therapy for children. Music engages various regions of the brain, stimulating neural connections and enhancing cognitive functioning. Recent research has shown that music therapy in a playroom setting can boost attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. Moreover, it has been found to have a positive impact on academic performance and overall cognitive development. So what does this all mean for our youth?

Reifinger, S., & Cabrera, D. (2019) examined the effects of a musical play intervention on infants' and toddlers' spatial-temporal skills. The findings showed that engaging in musical play activities, such as exploring different sounds and instruments, had a positive impact on the development of spatial-temporal skills in young children. How does this relate to your children? This strengthens those brains for using a map or compass, merging traffic while driving, and determining how many objects can fit in a box.

 

  • Supporting Physical Rehabilitation: In the past five years, music therapy has emerged as a valuable tool in supporting physical rehabilitation for children with motor impairments. Combining rhythmic movements with music facilitates motor coordination, balance, and strength. Studies have shown that music therapy interventions in a playroom setting can accelerate the recovery process. One study focused on the effects of melodic and rhythmic cueing on music perception and cognition in stroke patients. Melodic and rhythmic cueing--clapping hands, snapping fingers, beating drums-- is the perfect opportunity to foster these skills. (Stewart, L., Lonsdale, M., & Yardley, L., 2016)


  • Fostering Social Interaction and Communication: Children naturally gravitate towards music, and music in our playroom can harness this innate attraction to social interaction and communication. Recent research underscores the role of group music-making activities in fostering collaboration, cooperation, and turn-taking among children. It creates a sense of belonging and builds meaningful connections with peers. Think of when kids freely explore at a museum or in a preschool classroom: interacting with musical materials, engaging in spontaneous singing and dancing, and exploring various sounds and instruments. It would be like giving adults free rein in a music studio with their best friends. Imagine the possibilities!



  • Boosting Overall Well-being and Quality of Life: From reducing anxiety and stress to improving mood and self-esteem, music has consistently demonstrated its ability to enhance the emotional and psychological well-being of children. The playroom setting further amplifies these benefits by providing a joyful environment that encourages exploration, creativity, and self-expression.


By incorporating music into therapeutic interventions, professionals are unlocking the potential for healing and growth in children, empowering them to overcome challenges and reach their full potential. Music in our playroom setting not only brings joy and fun but also provides a transformative experience that nurtures the mind, body, and soul of every child it touches.


Citations:

Stewart, L., Lonsdale, M., & Yardley, L. (2016). Music perception and cognition following stroke: The effects of melodic and rhythmic cueing. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169(1), 279-282.


Reifinger, S., & Cabrera, D. (2019). Supporting Early Sound Exploration: Effects of a Musical Play Intervention on Infants and Toddlers' Spatial-Temporal Skills. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1722.


www.positivenotemusictherapy.com



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