From the time our little ones are born (and even in the womb!), babies are subjected to music all around them. Music is often the first thing a child relates to and is a type of universal language. For these reasons, it’s no surprise that music therapy can improve a child’s physical, psychological, cognitive, behavioral and social functioning.

Music therapy is similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy, according to the National Association for Music Therapy. It is especially beneficial for children with mental health needs, developmental or learning disabilities. Music therapists determine which styles of music, techniques and instruments are most effective for motivating each individual child to expand upon their natural play in order to address areas in need.

There are two types of music therapy: active and passive therapy. In active therapy, the patient plays music with their therapist using an instrument or their voice. In passive therapy, patients will listen to music while performing other calming activities, such as meditating or drawing. In both circumstances, the therapist will encourage the patient to talk about how the music makes them feel or what memories it brings up.

The benefits of music therapy are extraordinary! Here are some of the benefits it can have on patients:

  • Reduced muscle tension: Music stimulates a person’s senses and can promote calmness by slowing down the breath, heart rate and other bodily functions.
  • Increased self esteem: Music therapy provides a sense of meaningfulness to the patient and draws an otherwise passive child into participating.
  • Decreased anxiety: Inside and outside of therapy, music encourages people to get moving. The physical aspect can help decrease anxiety levels.
  • Enhanced social relationships: Music helps people engage, communicate and interact with others, even in nonverbal ways. It allows people to connect in a way they can’t do from speaking.
  • Increased motivation: Music therapy is designed to be success-oriented and make children feel better about themselves and their accomplishments!
  • Emotional release: Both listening to and creating music provide an emotional release that is therapeutic for people suffering from anxiety or depression.

Music therapy also encourages the joy of play, which is important to improve the quality of learning and social participation in children! For more benefits of music therapy, visit the National Association for Music Therapy’s website.