Advocacy in Early Childhood Music Therapy: Advocate From the Very Beginning There are diﬀerent levels and types of music therapy advocacy ranging from how one represents the field in their everyday work to formal eﬀorts on local, state, and national levels. Audiences may include parents, caregivers, administrators, or legislators. Eﬀective advocacy in early childhood music therapy focuses on the child’s needs and music therapists’ scope of practice and research. Below are ten eﬀective ways music therapists serving young children and their families can advocate for continued access to music therapy at the direct-service level. 1. Be a leader! Define music therapy, its scope of practice, and music therapy goals addressed in early childhood rather than waiting for those without training to fill in the blanks. 2. Use plain, relatable language so non-music therapists can grasp the information and share it with others. 3. Focus on music’s role in child development, including communication, cognitive, physiological and emotional functioning. 4. Explain the music therapy assessment process and how engagement in the music medium can expose hidden strengths and needs. 5. Support caregivers to engage in music in front of the children at their comfort level. Explain how this is beneficial for both the adult and the child. 6. Data, Data, Data! Use both qualitative and quantitative data, even if the agency does not
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request it. Align the outcomes with the vision and mission of the agency. Understand the rules and regulations that shape the agency’s priorities and expose how music therapy impacts the bottom-line (e.g., outcomes, costeﬃciency, parent involvement, and public relations). Use a variety of communication strategies (e.g., music demonstrations, brief statements, data graphs, videos, handouts, and written narratives). Embrace challenges and misunderstandings about music therapy as opportunities that are a normal part of your professional practice. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat! Don’t assume non-music therapists can generalize information across situations or in successive music therapy sessions. Continue to educate and share information in an ongoing basis.
Generalize the above strategies to other levels by networking and joining coordinated team eﬀorts. Go to the AMTA’s Policy & Advocacy section to the for information, updates, and resources. Explore other sources such as Wrightslaw to remain current with rules and regulations of special education law, and check out the highlights in IDEA 2004 Part C (Early Intervention). Seek advocacy training to become comfortable communicating with community leaders and elected oﬃcials. By integrating advocacy into each work day, music therapists foster public understanding of the field’s scope of practice and strengthen client access to services. Being an advocate is an integral part of being a music therapist. Therefore, advocate from the very beginning!
In this issue, over 70 authors from 12 countries share their dedication and passion for early childhood music therapy with imagine readers....