skills. Thus, the club functions as one comprehensive organization that combines music therapy strategies within a group therapy process that focuses on social and play skill development.
Music Therapy and Social Work: Working Together in Friendship Club Ilene (Lee) Berger Morris, LCAT, MT-BC Alternatives for Children Southampton, NY Growing up is challenging! As children leave infancy they must develop certain skills that enable them to function as a member of society – part of a family, a play group, a class, or a community. Many children acquire social skills by virtue of everyday situations and circumstances. By the time children are four years old, they may share giggles with peers over a simple game. At this age, children are beginning to identify with and learn from their peer group, developing the ability to make and maintain relationships and solve interpersonal conflicts. They start to name and express inner feelings, and trade instant gratification for a bigger payback that comes from sharing and taking turns. Young children learn that cause leads to effect and develop strategies for coping with outcomes of this relationship. Mastering these skills of social competence “contributes greatly to the formation of a positive self-concept” (Barrett, Kallio, McBride, Moore, & Wilson, 1995, p. 324). For some children with disabilities, opportunities to experience such situations may be limited, or learning these skills may be otherwise delayed or compromised. It is challenging to become a social being, and sometimes children need assistance. At Alternatives for Children’s Southampton, NY site, a group of preschool children work on social skills in a fun, musical setting called Friendship Club. Focus Piloted in 2008, Friendship Club is a collaborative effort, coled by Lee Morris (music therapist) and Joy Heid (social worker). The student members have either group music therapy or group student counseling listed on their Individual Education Program (IEP). The children with student counseling on their IEP seem to respond to and benefit from the structure, patterning, and repetition inherent in music. The IEP music therapy students have goals primarily in the social domain. While children’s progress is charted by the professional representing their IEP’s specific service, the needs of both groups are met within the same setting. Overall, the children appear to benefit from a multi-sensory learning style and also from assistance in building communication and interactive
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Format Friendship Club is adult-supported but child-directed. Simulating the convergence of members of an informal neighborhood club, the children, who come from different classrooms, “call for” each other as the group gathers. A club song celebrating being in Friendship Club also keeps the pace and focus as ultimately all members (4-6 in number), walking together, proceed down the hall to the music room where the session is held. The concept of being part of a special group is reinforced in the first in-room activity. The children sing the welcoming handshake song that sets the stage for interaction with a kind of musical "All for One and One for All." Although these activities may be prepared by staff in terms of equipment and materials, the direction the session takes comes from the children. At the end, the children chant the closing words and then they return to their classrooms via their ritual Friendship Club parade. Use of Music In addition to structuring the transition from classroom to therapy space, music reinforces the sequence of events during the session. It serves to impart critical information such as rules of games, behavioral expectations, common interactive expressions, and concepts such as sharing, kindness, and emotions. Music figures largely in many of the featured activities. For instance, when considering non-aggressive expressions of anger, the children agreed that jumping and playing a drum were some ways to “get the anger out.” An edgy, dissonant song (that resolved with a hopeful major chord) emerged to frame the actions and practice coping.
Listen to Angry Explorations Recorded 2010 by Ilene (Lee) Berger Morris
At the subsequent session, a recording of the song was played. The issues and strategies were re-examined and confirmed by the group. Songs are sung and performed both without and with accompaniment that may be live or pre-recorded by therapist. A decidedly upbeat, rhythmic, modern musical style reflects the culture of youth of which these children are fledgling members. Music helps structure time and environment, and regulates children’s behavior without seeming adultimposed. It also infuses the group with a sense of camaraderie, the way "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" gets everyone in the stands singing and swaying together, even if they are not all root-root-rooting for the same team. Anxiety levels seem to decrease as the children are drawn together physically and emotionally in a shared purpose. Use of Technology In keeping with students’ emerging interest in peers and “kid stuff,” technology is employed in several ways. Pre-recorded
Additional early childhood music therapy resources available at www.imagine.musictherapy.biz.