If you’ve ever wondered what music therapy is all about, we found the perfect person to help! We sat down for a Q&A with our Music Therapist Becca who shares with us how music therapy works and why she loves her job so much!
Q: What is Music Therapy?
A: “Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing” (Australian Music Therapy Association, n.d.). Music therapy is both a recognised allied health and mental health profession.
Q: How can Music Therapy support children with disability?
A: Music therapy has a unique positioning to support children with a disability, as it can offer alternative methods to improve things like speech, communication and social skills, body movement, coordination and physical function, memory, attention and cognitive function, as well as pain management. It also provides a unique way to facilitate shared experiences (i.e., playing or listening to music together) that is strengths-based, person-centered and most importantly, fun!
Q: What can parents and children expect from a Music Therapy session?
A: Unless the child has a goal surrounding engaging in activities independently, I find a lot of parents enjoy joining in on music therapy sessions! Music therapy, whilst working towards the child’s therapeutic goals, also offers parents a space to connect with their child doing something fun and supports parent-child connection.
Q: Are there any special adaptive tools that you use during a session?
A: I don’t necessarily have any special adaptive tools, but aside from traditional music instruments, I also use an iPad-based instrument called ‘ThumbJam’, which has over 100 instruments to choose from! This allows clients with limited strength and coordination to still play and make music.
Q: Do you work with other therapists such as OTs?
A: Yes, I often do joint sessions with our physiotherapists and speech patholgists. Music therapy works well with these disciplines due to the connection between music and movement, and music and communication. In addition, I collaborate constantly with our art therapist at Xavier Place. Art and music are a match made in heaven!
Q: Where do you find inspiration for Music Therapy sessions?
A: Inspiration always comes from my clients. Above anything else, music therapy is person-centered. I might change the kinds of chords I play on the guitar or the way I sing just based on a client’s mood or disposition that day. My experience is that children and young people find their therapy sessions more meaningful and enjoyable when they play a role in conducting what we do together.
Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a Music Therapist?
A: I have spent my whole life singing and playing music with my family; we would travel around to retirement homes and garden clubs and often be providing music to people who were in the later stages of their life. I saw how energising, uplifting and powerful music can be. From as early as I can remember, I knew I wanted to help people, and doing that through music is probably the most beautiful way I know how.
Q: Did you always want to work with children with disability?
A: I’ve always worked with children (being a music teacher for 10 years), however when I became a support worker in my early twenties with Xavier, I found a whole new passion for supporting people with disabilities. It just so happened that all my masters' placements were with children with disability, so I kind of feel like I was destined to work in the area I do!
Q: What might a typical workday look like for you?
A: When I work with our allied health team, I drive around to client’s homes or educational facilities and deliver one-to-one music therapy sessions in their preferred environments. When I work with our Xavier Place team, I don’t think a single day of work looks the same! It can range from driving someone home whilst doing carpool karaoke, to setting up a big group receptive creative art therapy session for whatever guests and staff want to participate.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: I love being able to connect with young people and children in a way they may not have been able to before. Music connects us all, no matter our abilities. Connection is the loving undercurrent that fuels everything I do.
Learn more about Xavier Music Therapy and the ways that we support children and young people.