What is therapeutic music at Mount Tamar?
It is important to know that I am not a registered Music Therapist, the work I do with pupils is a precursor to this and aims to support emotional health and wellbeing of pupils, as well as their relationships with peers and general enjoyment of school.
Music therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses Music as its mode of expression and communication. Music is used to address emotional issues which may be confusing, abstract or distressing. It is not a recreational activity or a music lesson, although the sessions can be very enjoyable. Clients do not need to have any previous experience in music and the goal is not to create proficient musicians.
At Mount Tamar I deliver a unique music package, bespoke to each student's needs and abilities, borrowing tools from formal Music Therapy, formal Music education and less formal Music mentoring with the goal of boosting confidence, focus and resilience in learning, building social skills, encouraging self expression and self improvement and enhancing enjoyment of the school environment.
For many students here music is a mindful activity that can help them to stay regulated or re-regulate during difficult days. For others it is a pursuit of a skill they are passionate about improving and becoming proficient at. For some it’s a social activity and an exercise in listening and being heard. For others it’s a confidence boosting exercise that builds resilience in the face of learning curves and delayed gratification. For some students it is all of the above. I am passionate about finding the specific ways music can help, support and grow each individual student I meet.
The training I have received has covered the following;
- Trauma Informed approaches
- Working with Emotional & Behavioural difficulties
- Young people & Self Harm
- Depression, Bipolar, PTSD and emotional difficulties
- ADHD, ASD and behavioural difficulties
- Safeguarding Young People
- Active listening and counselling
- Teaching music to Primary age students
- Teaching music to Secondary and Higher Education students
Shifting school culture from reactive to proactive
Therapeutic Music at Mount Tamar is a therapeutic intervention that compliments rather than replaces the work of CAMHS or other specialist therapists.
As human beings, music is something that plays an important role in our culture, heritage and identity. It has the power to affect us all deeply, to change our mood, paint us mental pictures, bridge connections to strangers and other walks of life and open doors to thoughts and emotions. It can be exciting, it can be calming, it can be emotive, it can be joyful. It can stir memories and powerfully connect with our emotions, helping us to process and understand them, as well as express and communicate them.
We've found students having this outlet and extra means of expression to be invaluable. The enhanced ability to communicate and self-express improves self-confidence and social skills. The process of learning and practising music improves their independence and strengthens a learner's ability and confidence to teach themselves and be resilient in the face of undertaking new and difficult tasks, affirming a belief that they can achieve anything if they're patient and committed to practising.
The fact that playing and studying music is well linked with higher achievement across other subjects is also well researched and established. It has been shown over and over that it increases concentration and attention span and improves coordination and physical and emotional awareness. It also encourages creative and spontaneous play, careful listening, empathy and respect for others, as well as stimulating social interaction and the desire to communicate, in turn strengthening peer relationships. It excites imagination and creativity. It will also help develop an understanding of culture and history, within their own and others heritages.
The relaxed atmosphere rife with opportunities to express and experiment lends itself fantastically to a therapeutic environment where students feel more comfortable talking through or sharing what’s on their minds. The emotive, mood changing, brain affecting powers of music are a wonderful pairing with this, allowing us to express and experience these thoughts and feelings in different ways, and pair or prompt them with different sounds or music.
Many of our learners say having access to this environment is something that really helps them to look forward to and enjoy school, also saying that a visit to the music room often changes their mood, or turns their day around if they’re struggling. Many of them find the boost in their confidence and self-esteem to be invaluable and, even at a young age, students are aware of a maturing in their approach to learning and committing to practising something, noticeably developing patience and resilience in themselves.
Most of our students leave us with a good level of practical proficiency and technical understanding in music and even more leave with a real passion for the subject and respect for their musician peers. With our industry relevant studio set up, many have an interest in career possibilities not only in performing and composing but also in sound technology and engineering avenues, again giving young people a sense of direction and belonging whilst broadening their horizons.