and rings and speaks and sings on high...”
The word “therapy” comes from the Greek therapeia and the Latin iatreia, meaning to cure, help, look after, but also to educate. Music therapy thus involves the use of music in order to have a positive impact on the human mind and body. There are many different definitions, but we will use the internationally accepted definition from the World Federation of Music Therapy:
“Music therapy is the use of music and/or musical elements (sound, rhythm, melody and harmony) by a qualified music therapist with a client or group, in a process designed to facilitate and promote communication, relationships, learning, mobilization, expression, organization and other relevant therapeutic objectives, in order to meet physical, emotional, mental, social and cognitive needs. Music therapy aims to develop potentials and/or restore functions of the individual so that he or she can achieve better intra- and inter- personal integration and, consequently, a better quality of life through prevention, rehabilitation or treatment.” (World Federation of Music Therapy, 1996)
At Zahrádka, we work with the holistic approach to music therapy developed by Tomáš Procházka, who is also the supervisor of our music therapy team. This approach emphasizes the therapy’s comprehensive effect on the individual and on his indivisible bio-psycho-socio-transcendental unity within the context of relationships, things, and events. Integrating the ideas of various different schools of music therapy, this approach works with a curve that starts with “warming up”, moves on to harmonizing, and then works on calming and relaxing. It applies a diverse range of methods, approaches and techniques – abreaction techniques, breathing, movement, the use of lights and colors, vibroacoustics, verbal approaches, ambient and relaxation techniques, visual stimuli, elements of basal stimulation, ball massages and more. We also incorporate singing, playing music on one’s body, playing musical instruments, and making our own sounds and music.
The music therapy studio is designed like a music studio with audio equipment and lighting technology. The studio lighting (spotlights) change at different phases, with a view towards certain criteria such as their physical impact on the human body and mind. The vibrating seating and lying surfaces allow clients to consciously perceive sound and music with their entire body. Reproduced music is transmitted via a vibrating bed, which transmits the music’s vibrations to the body. The pulses of low-frequency tones have a special therapeutic effect by releasing muscle tension, relaxing and massaging the body, and providing joint relief, all of which has a positive impact on pupils with combined handicaps, cerebral palsy, and spasticity. The studio is also equipped with a series of musical instruments that the pupils can use to make their own music – percussion instruments, drums, ocean drums, Orff instruments and ethnic instruments.
During music therapy at our school, we try to provide the children with all-around support and to positively influence their inner equilibriums and the equilibrium between them and their surroundings. We respect our students’ individual personalities, meaning that our music therapy is overwhelmingly individual and based on a mutual interactive therapist-pupil relationship that has been formed in an environment of friendship, trust, and safety.
The therapeutic use of sound and music can also help to reduce tension and stress, which makes it an excellent way of releasing emotions. It also affects the somatic system and influences physiological processes, develops motor skills, and reduces pain. By inducing a state of relaxation, it can help to prevent stress and tension.
Music therapy is a highly experiential form of therapy that fosters non-verbal communication, free and creative expression, and intimate interactions that, during therapy, can open pupils’ souls and emotions, provide an insight into their subjective perceptions, and thus lower the defense mechanisms that they have built up towards their surroundings. Music conjures up memories and associations and provides access to the unconscious.
We also try to use music therapy to influence our children’s personal development within the broadest meaning of the word – to increase the quality of their lives while taking into account their specific needs (physical, emotional, cognitive, social) and promoting communication, social interaction, learning, motivation, and self-expression.