In my last post, I stated that having weekly music therapy sessions supports social skill development and retention (read that post here).
The second reason that I feel weekly music therapy sessions are important is Consistency. Having sessions every week allows participants to understand the routine, they enjoy attending and look forward to the groups. Consider the case of Alan, a 15 year old boy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Most days Alan doesn’t like to get up and get ready for school in the morning, but on Wednesday, he knows the music therapist is coming and his mom reports that this is the only day of the week that he gets ready for school independently. Andrew is a 17 year old student that participates in music therapy at his after-school program. His mother shared that every Tuesday morning he reminds her that he has music therapy and doesn’t want her to pick him up early. Then there is my friend Walter, who awaits my arrival in the day room of his Skilled Nursing Facility every Monday so he can request his favorite songs. Music therapy is important to the participants and having a consistent schedule builds confidence and trust and gives them a way to be proactive about their healthy lifestyle habits.
In addition to motivation there is another benefit of consistent weekly music therapy sessions. Every session that I do is structured to meet goals and objectives of each individual, even in the group setting. Within the structure are rules of behavior, such as how to hold an instrument and play it appropriately, how to answer questions and interact with the therapist and other participants. When I ask children to do something, I am communicating using words and music, and I am also communicating visually by using gestures, sign language, pictures and facial expressions which improve comprehension. The participants remember the structure more easily and those social skills transfer to other areas of daily life when the sessions are held weekly.
In the next post I will address what I believe may be the strongest reason to provide music therapy sessions at least once per week and that is the physiological and neurological changes that happen in the body when participating in music therapy.