Music is therapeutic – so much so that many have chosen professions in music therapy and many receive music therapy as a complementary treatment modality for a variety of isms. As per the American Music Therapy Association, “Music therapy interventions focus on enhancing social, communicative, motor/sensory, emotional, and academic/cognitive functioning, or music skills.” (1)
With this knowledge, many parents may look to the musical arts in their schools to expose their children with various isms to the therapeutic benefits of music. Some children may explore an instrument. Musical educator, Orly Zalel of Musical Baby Bonding shares, “Choosing a musical instrument is a very exciting time for the child, however, many factors may inhibit children from obtaining an instrument. It may depend upon the tendencies of your child, the character of your child, the style of parenting, the age of the child and, more importantly, his developmental stage and, finally, the cost.”
Some children opt for joining their school choir. Zalel continues, “Every child is born with an inbuilt primary instrument – the voice, his own unique voice. Singing within the family from a very early age, actually from the first hours after birth, is natural for parents and siblings, develops good communication skills and establishes the child’s musicality foundations.” The child’s unique voice can be used to sing at any developmental stage, is always there, does not require extra care of a musical instrument and it’s free!
Therapeutic Value of Singing
Theresa Griffith of SomeOne Believes in You tells us, “In my experience of playing 13 different flutes, bamboo sax, harp and singing for therapy, the human voice is the most therapeutic of all.”
Griffith elaborates, “Every single thing in the universe vibrates at it’s own unique frequency. Every cell within our bodies vibrate. When we are in a healthy place, the cells within our bodies vibrate in harmony. When our cells are not vibrating in harmony with one another, this can put the human body in a disease state. Sound and specifically the human voice can put our bodies back into a healthy harmonic place.” (2)
To back this concept, Griffith tells us about Fabien Maman, a French musician, who studied the effects of sound on human cells back in the 1980’s. He experimented with various sounds and discovered that sound vibrations transformed cell structure. And most amazing in his discovery was that the human voice produced the most dramatic results. (3)
Griffith went on to introduce us to a sound healing pioneer by the name of Jonathan Goldman. Goldman is the Director of the Sound Healers Association and the author of Healing Sounds and The 7 Secrets of Sound Healing. Goldman states, “When we talk about sound healing, we’re dealing with an energy, a power that has the ability to rearrange molecular structure.”
Dorinne Davis, audiologist, educator and sound therapist, is credentialed in 20 different sound-based therapies. To learn more about Sound Therapy explore Davis’s insights via her blog at Special-Ism.
The Power of the Voice
As you can see, sound healing has incredible therapeutic benefits and one of the most powerful instruments to create positive results is the human voice. Singing can profoundly impact your child’s overall mood with the innate built in calming tool – the voice.
AJ Klein, a Music Technology student at Rowan University has been singing since he learned how to talk. Klein recalls, “singing in the car to familiar songs on the radio and it made me feel happy.” Klein sings all the time – singing has helped him get through moments of boredom, lifted his spirits in moments of sadness, relieved tension at times of stress and accentuates his happy moments too. “Singing will keep me from feeling like I am falling apart when times are tense – I immediately feel a positive effect.”
Klein is toying with the idea of exploring Music Therapy as he believes in the therapeutic value of music and singing. “Music is therapeutic – it’s the reason why mothers sing to their infants. While some may play with their hair, others may sing. It’s a means to soothe oneself.”
Still not convinced? Think about the human body – made up of 70% water. Sound travels faster through water than air. Our own bodies are the perfect conductors of sound and vibration. By singing, your child will create energy vibrations that essentially replace negative energy with positive energy.
How to Encourage Singing
Zalel encourages her students to sing anything they like all day long, from childish nursery rhymes to Bach’s beautiful chorals. She advises to expand upon the voice and emboldens her students to sing in many different ways, “happily, loudly, softly, with special movements, while dancing, while playing percussion instruments or while listening to a favorite tune on the iPod.”
Zalel cautions parents, “We need to be aware that every moment of singing together is complete enjoyment. We have to try not to be judgmental about our children’s singing “quality”. In addition, we must not correct their singing mistakes – neither in lyrics nor in melody – as the singing will only improve while repeatedly singing an especially loved repertoire with familiar family members.”
“The parents’ response is very important to the children’s development at every age. In other words, we need to respond to what we hear with positives and respect, giving the children the feeling that they are doing great and we love it as it is. No worries! Even if it doesn’t sound “good” now, gradually they will acquire many wonderful musical and singing skills”, Zalel continued.
Get your child singing – it is indeed therapeutic. Encourage your children to sing their little hearts out. Explore choral opportunities through your school, church or community. Pick up an mp3 player and load their favorite songs and allow them to sing happily, loudly, softly and even off tune – as the therapeutic benefits are powerful.
(1) “FACT SHEET: Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorder.” American Music Therapy Association (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
(2) “Science of Sound.” Science of Sound. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
(3) Maman, Fabian. “Sound Cellular Research.” Tama-Do, The Academy of Sound Healing, Color Therapy and Chi Movement. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.