Children living in low-resource or low socioeconomic status areas may be at risk for poorer socio-emotional and academic development. In the article, “Evaluation of a Music Therapy Social Skills Development Program for Youth with Limited Resources” Pasiali & Clark describe using group music therapy to improve these academic and social skills.
In this study, 20 students, ages 5 to 11 years, attended an after school music therapy program. The students participated in fifty minute music therapy sessions for eight weeks and all music therapy sessions had a beginning (reviewing skills learned in the last session), middle (introducing new skills), and end format (a closing song). Music therapy sessions included movement to music, active music making, Orff-based musical experiences (adapted from music education resources), improvisation, songwriting, role-play, music performances, or music-assisted relaxation. Older children in the study were given harder musical tasks or were given group-leading roles. A variety of experiences were used in order to sustain engagement and attention over the 50 minute session.
While there were no significant changes in the formal pre/post test scores, the total number of low-performance and high-risk skills significantly decrease. Also, the teacher results indicated improvement in communication, hyperactivity, and “problem” behaviors. Parents reported increases in communication with the children participating in the group.
This study is important because it shows that music therapy may be an effective method of improving social and academic skills for children living in low-resource environments. These results are backed up by previous studies (referenced within the original journal article), which strengthens the evidence for music therapy as an effective treatment for social skills. For more information about music therapy, please continue to centralohiomusictherapy.com or musictherapy.org.
By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC
Pasiali, V., & Clark, C. (2018). Evaluation of a Music Therapy Social Skills Development Program for Youth with Limited Resources. Journal of Music Therapy,55(3), 280-308. doi:doi:10.1093/jmt/thy007