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How Music Therapy Supports School-Aged Children

As we inch closer and closer to the beginning of the new school year, it is common to feel overwhelmed by all of the new questions this event poses. In what capacity will my child return to school? Will they be safe and successful in this environment? Will we be able to manage school, extra curricular activities, and therapies like we did pre-pandemic? We at The House of Music Therapy are here to help!

When analyzing what our clients need to succeed, we formulate goals. These goals fall under categories like cognition, communication, physical, and emotional. Using a variety of musical experiences, your music therapist can help support your child inside and outside of the education system.

Ways that music therapy supports cognition:

  • Use of music to provide concrete supports and experiences for abstract concepts

    • Example: Processing the abstract concept of love through song performance and analysis of preferred music regarding this topic

  • Prescriptive use of music to improve academic learning, response time, accuracy memory, attention span and length of on-task behavior

    • Example: Performing familiar music such as Think! The Jeopardy theme song to provide a tension and release to the question and answer process of academic learning

Ways that music therapy supports communication:

  • Design music experience to positively inforce reading skills by implementing “fill-in-the-blank” lyric analysis and sing along

  • Apply specific music elements (such as preferred music/ writing lyrics) to enhance writing skills

Ways that music therapy supports movement/ physical development:

  • Design music experiences to facilitate developmentally appropriate skills

    • Example: Engage 3 year old child in sing along song regarding steps to dress yourself

  • Apply specifically designed musical elements to support generalization of mobility

    • Example: Adapting live guitar playing to improve gait, placing emphasis where feet are intended to meet with the ground

Ways that music therapy supports emotional regulation:

  • Couple music with visual representations of commands, feelings, places, schedule sequences, and social stories

    • Client written story regarding getting ready for school coupled with musical reinforcement by music therapist and client musical engagement

  • Use of music to support development of an expanded repertoire of expression

    • Creating a “sad to happy” playlist to facilitate appropriate emotional processing

Ways that music therapy supports social skills:

  • Use of music to support self-organization and cooperation

    • Sing along with lyrics impressing the importance of working as a team with even work distribution

  • Use of music to support social give and take and acceptance of change in least restrictive environments

    • Songwriting listing the coping skills preferred when going from one environment to the next

This blog post only scratches the surface of what’s out there. If you’re interested in learning more about how music therapy can benefit you child, feel free to visit our other blog posts on or visit

Humpal, M. E., & Colwell, C. (Eds.). (n.d.). Early Childhood School Age Educational Settings: Using Music to Maximize Learning.

Latham-Radocy, W. B. (2014). Pediatric Music Therapy (Vol. 2). Springfield, IL: Thomas C. Publisher.

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