[Guest Post] OCMT Sponsor- Music Together

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In previous blog posts, I have shared with you my thoughts on creativity in music therapy with parent-child dyads, systems theory, and processes in music therapy.  This post will describe Music Together’s Philosophical Points and how these support the role of creativity in clinical decision making in light of systems theory and processes in music therapy.  I invite you to share your thoughts.

Music Together’s Philosophical Points

All children are musical

In addition to infants’ innate responsivity to rhythmic and tonal input (de l’Etoile, 2006; Trehub, 2009; Trehub & Hannon, 2009), infants engage in an increasingly complex pattern of experience and experimentation (equfinality-feedback-adaptiveness) with the knowledge they acquire.  In Music Together Babies classes, parents are invited to learn about their baby’s music development while engaging in a variety of music-based experiences.  Each week, parents are mentored by their Music Together teacher on how to structure experiences of music that support their baby’s development—not with the intention of creating musically proficient infants, of course!  Supporting parents’ ability to creatively engage their infants in developmentally appropriate experiences are important to healthy parent-child relationships.  Especially in light of the research indicating that very young infants respond most to communication that is tonal and rhythmic—in other words, song-like (Pavlicevic, 1999).  Take a look at this video that highlights a class of teen parents engaging in a Music Together class.

All children can achieve basic music competence—the ability to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm

                This philosophical point supports what we music therapists know as “presume competence”.  We cannot know what will excite a child, nor do we know how a child’s musicality will present itself.  This video of a mother remarking on her child’s experience of Music Together in Katzenbach School for the Deaf is an example of the importance of presuming that a child will find their way to being musical if given the right environment to support such growth.  As a clinician working with specifically with children whose developmental trajectory is not typical, I approach this philosophical point with parents in this way:  We wouldn’t dream of not reading to a child because we weren’t sure they were going to be able to learn to read.  Being read to is an important part of childhood.  Music is likewise a vital component of childhood, as is being sung to, and danced with.

I believe that change (musical growth, attainment of developmental milestones, changes in the equality of the relationship between a parent and a child) happens within experiences of music which have structure and (often) occur in the context of a relationship (Sears, 2007).  Music Together’s model of licensing collections allows clinicians to create experiences of music that families are able to replicate at home, with the support of their clinicians.

The participation and modeling of parents and caregivers—regardless of their musical ability—are essential to a child’s musical growth

                When we look at this from a systems theory perspective, the longer a parent remains in the presence of a musical experience that supports their development, the more confident they will feel being musical with their child.  The child benefits from the parent’s confidence in their own ability to be a parent.  I suspect that confidence is related to feeling more creative.  Take a look at these parents’ experiences (Be sure to watch one woman’s experience of being a mother of child with autism in a Music Together class).

Young children’s musical growth occurs best in a playful, musically rich, and developmentally appropriate setting

Music Together’s focus on children’s musical growth is a deliberate position.  It is Music Together’s belief that Music Learning Supports all Learning®.  As music therapists, however, we often come from the position that experiences of music, appropriately structured and implemented by a music therapist, can enable change in musical and non-musical domains of a client’s life (see the American Music Therapy Association for a more definition of music therapy).  This is why Music Together Within Therapy® places less emphasis on “how” of implementing a Music Together-informed experience and more emphasis on supporting clinicians in their efforts to structure their therapeutic interventions.

An Invitation

There are so many other ways to consider the role of creativity in music therapy with parent-child dyads.  I’ve only been able to begin this discussion with you!  I invite you to attend my session at OCMT 2015, immediately following the Keynote session.


de l’Etoile, S. K. (2006). Infant behavioral responses to infant-directed singing and other maternal interactions. Infant Behavior and Development, 29(3), 456-470. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2006.03.002

Pavlicevic, M. (1999). Music Therapy: Intimate Notes. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.

Sears, W. W. (2007). Music-the therapeutic edge: Readings from William W. Sears [Kindle Edition],   Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/

Trehub, S. E. (2010). In the beginning: A brief history of infant music perception. Musicae Scientiae, 71-87.

Trehub, S. E., & Hannon, E. E. (2009). Conventional rhythms enhance infants’ and adults’ perception of musical patterns. Cortex, 45(1), 110-118. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2008.05.012

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