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Music Therapist Shows how Musical Improvisation Benefits Children with Special Needs

Music Therapist Shows how Musical Improvisation Benefits Children with Special Needs

Music with a Child with Autism
  Hey everyone, welcome back to The Rhythm Tree,
my name is Ryan Judd, I’m a board certified music therapist, here to give you some great
ideas on how to use music to help children with special needs. If you haven’t signed
up for my newsletter yet, please do. I’ve got a link right below that you can click
on and I’ll give you even more great ideas and resources in my biweekly newsletter.
I just got back from Adam’s Camp. And Adam’s Camp is an amazing therapy camp for kids with
special needs. They have one in Winter Park Colorado, they just opened one in Alaska,
and the one I went to and worked at was on Nantucket. And I had the younger group, so
kids around age four to eight with special needs, and had an amazing experience. And
one of my campers, with autism, you know he had a lot of frustration and I think a lot
of it was just because he needed to be heard. And but when he would come into music he just
opened up and I think part of that was because I was listening and reflecting what he was
saying through song. And he did something really amazing and unique which was to start
to vocally improvise a song while I improvised on the guitar and it just lead to this beautiful
improvisation, and I tried to put in some of the therapy ideas we were working on. Some
of the interventions like asking for a break or asking for help if he’s feeling overwhelmed
and it was just a really special moment, I’m so glad I captured it on video.
You’ll also see there’s one point where I have an extended period of wait time, I think
that’s a great lesson for anyone, parents, therapists, educators, sometimes you really
have to give these kids wait time in order to process the information. So there was the
wait time, there was reflecting what he was saying, and not trying to necessarily sing
over him but being really sensitive and when he would take a break, that’s when I would
try to get in some of these therapeutic interventions that we’re working on via song. And he just
had an amazing imagination, so we were singing about bees and bugs and flies and flowers
and it was quite amazing, so I’m so happy to share that with you today.
The lessons learned, wait time. Huge for kids with special needs. Gotta give them that time
to process. And whether you’re a musician or not, I think that concept of improvisation,
and following a child’s lead. Giving them the freedom to be creative and imaginative,
giving them the space to do that, some unstructured play activity where you can follow their lead
and you never know where it’s going to lead to so I want you to be open to that and it
can be a great way to work on some of these goals.
So I hope you enjoy this clip, I think it’s a fantastic one, and I’ll see you in
a couple of weeks, back at The Rhythm Tree.

30 thoughts on “Music Therapist Shows how Musical Improvisation Benefits Children with Special Needs

  1. Wow….I hope to have such precious moments with my
    special friends some day! I was in tears for this! So appreciate your sensitivity during the "wait time"! You are an inspiration.

  2. What a great example of MT clinical improv and connection! Thanks Ryan for posting, and to Kyle for letting us watch and listen.

  3. This is such a beautiful video. It brought tears to my eyes to see the love and light in both yours and the child's eyes. Respect

  4. So glad I found your channel! Music Therapy is what I want to do after school. Keep up the fantastic work!

  5. This video is very wonderful! It inspires me to pursue taking music therapy. I am currently a music education student in the philippines. I can relate the struggles on what an autistic people go through in their lives because my loved one has autism and so is my cousin. And its very heart warming because whenever my cousin is at my house ill just play the violin , piano or the banduria and he will come near to me and smile 🙂 this will help me in the future to help

  6. This reminds me why I love music at the first place. Music is unite us and a very good communication media. Wish you all the best of luck!

  7. As an autistic adult who has found help in my ability to play the piano, I can say with confidence that music is the most helpful thing for people with special needs. It provides a release of frustrations, sadness, joy, what have you in a constructive and often beautiful way. I have had times when I've played a piano in an area with people around me, and I just get so into it that I don't notice the crowd forming around me listening to my playing until I'm done playing. I encourage people to teach special needs kids to play an instrument. It can be any instrument. So long as it can make music and provide a constructive release. This video makes me smile because I can relate to this kid. I don't think I was ever this level of autism. I'm pretty mild. However, the fact remains that this medium is, in my opinion, the most therapeutic and positive way to help these kids with their struggles.

  8. wow, I'm blown away by this video. keep up your great work!, Can i ask you where you learnt music therapy? id like to go to school for it. Also I'm looking for a new guitar can you tell me what make and model is yours? thanks SO much!

  9. You definitely have a gift from God!
    I wish that you could work with my autistic son.
    He has hard time with transition .
    Do you have any song that could help him on this issue?
    May God bless you with good health and wisdom,so you can help those adorable kids for a long time:)

  10. Ola Ryan!! Não entendo inglês mas seus vídeos não precisam estar na minha língua para que eu possa entender do que se trata. Só queria te parabenizar pelo lindo trabalho que você faz!

  11. Hi Ryan. I am so moved by the therapy work you do! I am trying to brush up my guitar skills, can you tell me how you use open chords on Guitar? And would you say open chords are most effective for accompanying children with learning disabilities?

  12. Hi Ryan, I'm so happy I found your channel, I'm a therapist and work with children with Autism, however, I do not know how to play an instrument. Would it be a similar result if I sing or use other instruments so they can play with it? or play music on my laptop and sing along? What skills do you think I can use?

  13. Hi Ryan my son is 2 and he just got diagnosed in the spectrum few days ago. For how mild i see his symptoms the biggest one is delay in speech. I love music so much and believe so much in what you are doing. I have music on pretty much all my day in some way and my baby loves it too because he basically grew up with it.
    For some reason this child reminds me of him so much even if he’s older. I cried so much watching this video, but it wasn’t anger or sadness, it was kind of joy and hope in seeing the connection you created with him.
    I play guitar myself and a little harmonica. I would love to help Lorenzo (my baby) even if I am not a professional therapist.. I feel deep that music for him is going to be a huge tool.
    I just don’t want to do wrong things and make things worse somehow if that even a possibility. How do you I can approach . Lorenzo should be bilingual . I speak to him in Italian and my wife in English but I don’t know if I should sing in Italian to him or any song is ok and sound is what really matters.
    Thank you again for your value and time.

  14. What about bringing in your own instruments? I have ocarinas. They are unique wind instruments that make beautiful sounds. Check out channels like STL Ocarina for sound samples.

  15. It’s people like you that make the world a better place 🙌 thank you for everything you do you inspire and give hope

  16. I love your videos. I'm a music teacher in the public school and have been asked to teach a music class for students with autism. I do not have a music therapy degree. I've been watching everything I can and reading up on my kids. I want to be able to make their musical experience personal and enjoyable. Do you have more videos?

  17. Excellent! I did my dissertation on the use of improvised songs in music therapy and it's potency when using both free associated words with improvisation. Take care.

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