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Music is a natural part of of development. From the time we are 24-25 weeks gestation, we begin to develop the sense of hearing. Research has even shown that babies will respond to music that they heard while inside the womb even after they are born. Infinity has a sister program called Labors & Lullabies designed specifically for music therapy assisted childbirth, childbirth education, and early bonding.
Music is a natural part of our development. In addition, music can assist in our overall development of motor skills, communication skills, cognition, and more. Music is a natural and fun way for children to learn and grow. We work with children with and without formal diagnoses from the time of birth on. Early music exposure has been found to assist in the development of math and reading skills as well as a variety of other skill areas. For children with special needs, music therapy can be an effective tool in addressing a variety of developmental milestones.
Unlike boxed programs like Music Together and Kindermusik, sessions are designed specifically according to the child(ren) receiving services. Music experiences are changed in the moment to reflect the current needs of the child. While programs like Music Together have many WONDERFUL elements and FANTASTIC teachers, they typically only require three days of training in order to be “certified” to teach. Music therapists are specialists with extensive training. Click HERE to learn about the training of a music therapist.
In the first year...
3 months: becomes calm when music is played, prefers high pitches
5 months: recognizes a melodic pattern transposed
6-9 months: matches pitch or uses a related pitch 50% of the time
9 months: uses sound to express dislike of music, plays with range
12 months: moves to music with separate body parts
Music therapy at this stage can assist in the development of motor skills to support creeping and crawling through instrument play and sensory stimulation. Stimulation can assist in brain development. Awareness of surroundings is targeted through the use of familiar and novel instruments.
In the second year...
10-18 months: recognizes familiar songs, makes sing-song, musical babble
12-18 months: begins to make vocal sounds in response to music
18 months: remembers lyrics more consistently than melody or rhythm
18-24 months: dances spontanesouly to music
24 months: has a four to five step singing range
Music therapy at this stage of development can assist in the development of expressive and receptive language through therapeutic singing exercises and rhythmic chants. Vocal play is easily accessible through music. Music exploration can help develop early literacy and math skills through academics set to song. Music can reinforce positive behaviors.
In the third year...
24-36 months: use unison and ascending/ descending pitches equally, match pitches, able to imitate familiar songs, begins to take turns with others
36 months: can discriminate loud, can sing melodic outline/ contour of a song with words and rhythms, can do learned movement to music, participates in fantasy play, solves simple problems
Music therapy at this stage of development can be an effective tool in developing relationships and concepts of sharing space and materials with others through joint music making. Language development is reinforced through singing. Through therapeutic instrument play, hand-eye coordination, fine/ gross motor movements, and crossing midline is addressed. Music serves as a mnemonic device to help recall academic information.
In the fourth year...
36-72 months: has coordinated motor patterns, can learn duple and triple rhythms
48 months: sings spontaneous songs 1-5 seconds long with 1-3 short phrases, can sing with lyrcis, melody, rhythm, phrasing, and pulse, can sing descending intervals more easily than ascending intervals
48-60 months: shows improvement in rhythmic synchrony
Music therapy can develop social skills through instrumental solos, duets, and basic song recreation. Memory recall through melodic and rhythmic based interventions can be targeted. Fine motor skills can be reinforced through playing instruments such as the triangle and castanets that require similar grasp patterns. Impulse control (learning how to play loud/ soft, stop/ go, fast/ slow) can be targeted through structured play.
Did you know Music Therapy can be a component of the Individual and Family Support Plan (IFSP)?
Music therapy is a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As a result, music therapy can be a component of the Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP) and can be delivered through Birth to Three.
IDEA Part C states that early intervention services “are designed to meet the developmental needs of an infant or toddler with a disability and the needs of the family to assist appropriately in the infant’s or toddler’s development, as identified by the IFSP Team, in any one or more of the following areas, including (i) Physical development; (ii) Cognitive development; (iii) Communication development; (iv) Social or emotional development; or (v) Adaptive development”
Under Part C, music therapists can provide services as outlined under “other services” which states “The services and personnel identified and defined in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section do not comprise exhaustive lists of the types of services that may constitute early intervention services or the types of qualified personnel that may provide early intervention services. Nothing in this section prohibits the identification in the IFSP of another type of service as an early intervention service provided that the service meets the criteria identified in paragraph (a) of this section or of another type of personnel that may provide early intervention services in accordance with this part, provided such personnel meet the requirements in § 303.31.”
This reference to section 303.31 regarding qualified personnel clarifies that music therapists can provide early intervention services because music therapists have an established national exam through the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). This section states “Qualified personnel means personnel who have met state approved or recognized certification, licensing, registration, orother comparable requirements that apply to the areas in which the individuals are conducting evaluations or assessments or providing early intervention services.”
Finally, in the IDEA Part C Regulations and Analysis of Comments and Changes, the following is stated: “Section 303.13(d) clearly conveys that the early intervention services identified in §303.13(b) are not an exhaustive list and may include other developmental, corrective, or supportive services that meet the needs of a child as determined by the IFSP Team, provided that the services meet the criteria identified in §303.13(a) and the applicable state’s definition of early intervention services. We added the previous definitions of nursing services and nutritional services to these final regulations because these definitions are defined in the current regulations and relied upon by the field. However, adding new definitions of additional services identified by the commenters, such as music therapy and respite care, is not necessary.”
Snippets of Research...
The participants in one study were pre-school children with developmental delays. Results from this study indicated that the children sustained attention toward their peers for the longest duration of time and successfully alternated attention from peer to peer at the highest frequencies during activities that utilized a musical object within a nonmusical or play-based context. (Sussman, 2009)
Parent-child dyads participated in a six-week home-based music therapy program. Children in this study were ages one to three and had developmental disabilities. Results found that parents’ positive physical and verbal responses, as well as children’s positive verbal initiations, increased significantly from pre to post test. Parent-child synchrony also improved significantly pre to post test. (Yang, 2015)
A study was conducted to examine the effect of music therapy intervention on premature infants’ and full-term infants’ developmental responses and parents’ responsiveness. The infants who attended the developmental music groups with their parents demonstrated significantly more social toy play compared to the children who did not attend the music groups. The parents who attended the developmental music groups engaged in more positive and less negative play behaviors with their children compared to the parents who did not attend. (Walworth, 2009)
Transitions naturally occur as part of everyday life. Transitioning between environments and activities can be very difficult for young children. Transitions occur more easily when transitions are purposeful. Music was found to be an effective vehicle to assist with transitions. Music provides a way to systematically transition between tasks/ environments while maintaining positive interactions between peers, teachers, and caregivers. (Register & Humpal, 2007)
A study was conducted with first time mothers, parents of children with developmental delays, and multi-ethnic/ highly disadvantaged parents. Early childhood music was found to increase parenting satisfaction, parent-child engagement, parent-child interactions, and improve the child’s social and developmental skills across the sessions. (Abad & Williams, 2007)
Toddlers between 12-24 months of age participated in group music activities with their caregiver and their developmental responses were measured. Results showed that participation in 4-7 music sessions significantly increased higher level developmental skills. Significantly more children in the music group demonstrated higher level music and cognitive skills than those in the control group. (Standley, et.al., 2009)
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