My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Education Through Music, Inc., New York, NY, USA
Being the first music therapist for ETM, I was honored to have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the various children I work with. Music Therapy is the direct use of music to reach non-musical goals, including communication, socialization, motor functioning, emotional awareness, cognitive skills and of course functional academics.
As I review my work over the past year, one specific student stands out more than most. This 4th grade student was referred for music therapy by her classroom teacher and Occupational Therapist because of a severe deficit in functional mathematics, specifically with coins. The Occupational Therapist had been working with this student for nearly a year and a half with limited success on simply identifying the coins and attributing values to the coins.
Upon assessment, it was found that this student was incredibly musical (evidenced by spontaneously singing and creating rhythms and melodies) and extremely bright in verbal/communication skills engaging in meaning and insightful conversations. However, her identification of coins was less than 50%. She was put on music therapy service to be seen 45 minutes a week.
As we develop as young children, many of the basic functional academics are taught through song, the “ABC’s” being the perfect example (26 separate bits of information all memorized in order by a preschooler is only made possible through the music). Using a similar theory, the student’s best chance to acquiring and retaining this knowledge would be through song.
During her assessment, this student shared that her favorite song was “Baby” by Justin Bieber. Because the most ideal therapeutic outcome typically comes through preferred music, the student learned a new version of “Baby” with the words of the refrain rewritten to be a mnemonic device to the tune of the platinum hit:
“Penny, one cent
Nickel fiiiiiiive cents
Dime is tiny
And is teeeeeen cents
Quarter is the biggest with
25 25 25 25”
The student loved the song and used Garageband to choose drumbeats/synthesizer parts and record her own voice singing this refrain. A CD was made for the student to listen to several times a day to engrain the song into her memory.
After several weeks of rehearsal, the student was identifying all coins and attributing vales with a 100% success rate.
The music therapy continued as the student began writing her own verses for various mnemonic devices to rehearse a variety of strategies for counting coins. Another couple of months and several recordings later, this student not only identified/attributed vales to the coins with 100% success rate, but was counting complex combinations of coins up to a dollar with nearly 100% success.
An absolutely vital life skill, which had escaped this child for nearly 10 years, was taught through the power of music. Did her consistent classroom support, occupational therapy and years of support assist in this acquisition of knowledge? Undoubtedly. However, the motivating and mnemonic power of music was the catalyst that allowed this student to begin to thrive in a public environment. And of course Education Through Music was the organization that made this all possible!!
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