About a month ago, I was asked by the principal of The Parish School if I would present a success story at the Board of Directors meeting on February 23. I love to give presentations and to inform others about music therapy.
Tonight, I shared my background of my dual degrees in music therapy and psychology from the University of the Pacific from Stockton, CA. I have been playing piano since age 7, violin since age 11, and had guitar and voice lessons in college. To pass the music therapy program, students have to be proficient in piano, guitar, and voice. I have 11 years of martial arts experience and I currently teach martial arts classes to the elementary students at The Parish School. In addition, I shared that I am a coxswain, the small person on a rowing boat team who yells, motivates, and tells rowers how to row and when to row. With my martial arts and coxswain background, my music therapy work is enhanced with students learning wellness, whole body coordination, teamwork, and getting specific feedback (ex. “Good job being gentle with instruments.” instead of “Good job!”). I did my music therapy internship at Hochstein School of Music & Dance in Rochester, NY. With my time spent teaching academics, social skills, wellness/martial arts, art, and music therapy with adults between the ages of 21-30, I learned more about the power of integrating music into how one teaches. At the end of my internship, I decided I wanted to work with children in early intervention. I found The Parish School music therapist/music teacher job posting on the American Music Therapy Association website, applied and was offered a job. Within a month, I moved from cold Rochester, NY to the hot, hot, hot Houston, TX.
Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed music therapist. For students, music makes learning vivid, engaging, and motivating. For more information about music therapy, click on the above banner link.
In September, about my third week at The Parish School, a teacher referred student C. to me to learn how to spell his name. I wrote an initial song for him, sang it for him, and we decided to rewrite one line together. This is our name song:
“Everybody has a name,
Our names our different,
Your name is Charley,
Week 1: He did not recognize his written name. Through singing our name song, he wrote C-H-A-R. No attempt at writing letters on the line. Liked to trace letters.
Week 2: We played the drum to rhythmically spell his name. He wrote C-H-A-R-Y with singing. He liked that both our names end in the letter “y.” I made a CD with the song to use in the classroom.
Week 3: We played the drums again. He wrote C-H-A-R-L-Y with singing. More progress! Loved to write letters in the box for spacing.
Week 4: With individual letters on index cards, he placed the cards in the order of his name through singing the song. Name recognition! He wrote C-H-A-R-Y with singing. (wanted to quickly finish to go back to recess).
Week 5: Said he was tired of working on his name. He made guesses and looked at the top of the paper where I wrote “Charley” and he said the letters. He wrote C-H-A-R-L-E-Y with singing independently. Yay music therapy!
Week 6: He independently spelled and wrote his name without singing. SUCCESS!
Below left is a picture he independently wrote without singing. Below right is a few months of handwriting work with his teachers. I and his teachers are so proud of him for working through recess for six weeks from not recognizing his name to spelling it comfortably!