Synthesis Sunday: Music, Therapy, and Early Childhood: A Developmental Approach - Chapters Two and Three

This is another week where I dive into a textbook to figure out what is relevant and appropriate for my own practice and client population. If you read last week's post, you know that I am currently reading Music, Therapy, and Early Childhood: A Developmental Approach by Elizabeth Schwartz. This text, written in 2008, is one of the most relevant texts on music therapy for my population that I own. The focus on the development of children and on the musical development of children is valuable when working with persons diagnosed with developmental concerns - there is lots of information that informs my approach with my clients. So, I find this text to be a valuable source of clinical thought for myself and my clients.

Today's chapters are the second and third in the text (pages 11-16 and 17-28).

These two chapters do not contain lots of prose (I like that), but they do contain valuable reminders and outlines of things we've all been exposed to during various courses but probably do not know really well. The second chapter, "Theories of development in early childhood," outlines the different ways that different people think about how children learn to be human - their developmental process. Schwartz outlines eight developmental theories from familiar names - Freud, Piaget, Erikson, Skinner, Greenspan - and offers basic information about each one of the theories in an easily understood list (works REALLY well with my visual learning style brain!!). She splits the information into three categories, psychoanalytic theories (Freud, Erikson, Stern, and Mahler), cognitive theories (Kegan, Piaget, Greenspan), and Learning Theory (Skinner - ah, the familiar stomping ground of my music therapy growth!) (p,12-16). This short chapter (another thin I like about this text - short chapters!!) offers me a reminder of the ideas that are out there - I can always go to my primary sources for additional information, if I want it.

The next chapter, "Early childhood developmental scales and checklists," functions in much the same way as the previous chapter. In this chapter, Schwartz has compiled information available from U.S. governmental agencies into a quick reference. She cautions that "the information is general and should be used only as a reference point" (p. 17). Split into nine developmental periods based on age, the reader finds information about the expected physical, sensory, motor, cognitive, emotional/social, and language development of humans. For my practice with individuals with identified developmental interruptions, this list is crucial for starting to find the place to start with music therapy intervention.

I know that my students are not the targeted population for this textbook, but I believe that my music therapy intervention is strengthened by my reading and study of this book on a regular basis. I often get bogged down in the idea that my students "should" be able to do something, and I forget that they have experienced things that have interrupted their developmental process in one way or another. These chapters ground me back into developmental theory and expected skill acquisition and remind me that we all take our own paths through this thing we call life.

For my clinical work, this text helps me to figure out appropriate goals and objectives for my clients. It forms a framework for assessment and treatment planning, and it allows me to identify places where my students have skipped over specific steps and developed splinter skills. I can then provide specific therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) to assist with their skill building in the music therapy setting. This is why I find this book to be so valuable.

The next chapter (for next week!) takes us into the models of music skill development, exploring both music therapy and music education models. I am looking forward to reading this chapter and thinking about it a bit more deeply as I head back to my new school year!

Thanks for synthesizing with me - I need to go look at my developmental theorists again...

Schwartz, E. (2008). Music, therapy, and early childhood: A developmental approach. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.


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