What is music therapy?
Music therapy is an expressive therapy through music that allows children and adults to maintain or improve their health. Music therapy uses sound, harmony, rhythm, and melody to enhance the development of various emotional, cognitive, social, and physical skills.
Music therapy is taught by accredited specialists with experience in different types of people, children and diagnoses.
Music therapy to reinforce listening comprehension and spoken language in children with hearing loss.
I will refer in this article to a number of different ideas regarding music therapy.
The first is some problems of musical perception and production that children with cochlear implants (CI) may face. Second, the importance of the connection between music and language. Current research shows the value brought by music in children with hearing loss, and then I will give you several ideas that you can use with your children.
Music Therapy for Hearing Development in Children with Cochlear Implants (CI)
The first musical response we see in babies is the sensomotor response. You may notice when you sing to a baby or if the baby listens to music, the first thing they do is start kicking the legs and moving the arms as fast as possible. This is an area that I always say you need to be aware of when working with young children with CIs.
When I see them starting to the rhythm of music or rattles on their chairs, it tells me that the child has discovered that music is something separate from the spoken language. You won’t get that kind of response when you talk to your child. That’s one of the first markers I like to look for.
Development in children with normal hearing
Normoyent children between the ages of one and two are beginning to imitate and even begin to say fragments of familiar songs. At the age of two and three they sing as they play. This is a very normal part of childhood.
They incorporate what they are doing in their play into these little song fragments. Then they try to learn songs with lyrics and rhythms. By the time they are four and five years old, they can march to a rhythm. They might be able to make the rhythm of a piece of music with some sticks or something that corresponds like a xylophone toy.
Tone center refers to the child’s ability to sing a song; to start the march on a particular key and end in it. What is really surprising is that by the time the child arrives at the nursery, he or she is able to sing a song with the right pitch, rhythm, and lyrics.
Guess what? No one has formally taught them. They have been instructed through exposure and through participation in the process of singing and listening to other children. This is very similar to the way hearing children learn language. If they have exposure to it, they will learn it almost effortlessly.
Development in Children with Cochlear Implants
Music presents unique challenges for children with CIs. Some studies say that these children can perceive rhythm almost as well as their hearing peers. Certainly, constant rhythm is something that most of them can match and demonstrate competence in.
Most, however, are less accurate than their hearing peers in being able to recognize the songs. If you were to play the music of a familiar song that a child knows; a child with a CI may have difficulty recognizing the song without the lyrics.it is important to remember that a typical 4 year old child may also have difficulty with that.
There is a developmental hierarchy that has to be in place. My experience tells me that children who have had CI from an early age are quite good at recognizing songs. I think implantation a few months after birth and early intervention is critical at this point.
Children with cochlear implants and children’s music therapy
Is music therapy beneficial for children with CI? My answer is yes. And why I develop it for you next.
Perception and comprehension of language can be more than a challenge for children using CI.
If we think about cochlear implants as they are being developed to access the language, and we know that music is more complex than speech, then that would make sense and child music therapy would be an important value in our cochlear implanted children.
For some children with CI, music may not be as enjoyable. But my experience with young children and especially with my son is that it has been very motivating. I also think we need to be aware that most of the research indicating that music is not pleasant is completed in many cases with adults, with CI.
Adults with CIs, but who have been listeners for part of their lives, have a memory of how the music “should sound”, and now it’s very different.
But for our young children who have never heard the music, but it’s a setup item, maybe it doesn’t matter so much.