Synthesis Sunday: Responsibility - Chapter Eleven in Music, Therapy, and Early Childhood by Schwartz

Aren't human beings fascinating? We've gone through ten chapters of musical development in Music, Therapy, and Early Childhood: A Developmental Approach by Elizabeth Schwartz, and we are just now getting to the end of the early childhood developmental process. This last bit, responsibility, indicates the time when the young child starts to work within the group structure and is able to start playing an individual role within that group. This is the last of developmental stage chapters, and it illustrates the ideal musical development - that of being independent in making music, but also being able to use that music within a group context with others.

For this chapter, Schwartz illustrates the fact that goals are individual, for the individual within a group, and that there are also group goals that the individual also addresses. Music becomes purposeful for many during this stage. We sing in a choir. We play set patterns on the drum. We make our patterns match the ones played by others. We become part of a group as individuals.

Many of my clients do not appear to reach this stage of musical development. There are moments and the occasional groups of students who can show some of these characteristics, but many of my clients do not move into purposeful musicking with others. We spend lots of time engaged in musical parallel play rather than in purposeful, focused play, reading our parts and working together to make a whole product.

I have lots to think about - a need for synthesizing - as I reach the end of the developmental process in this book. There are lots of things that I need to internalize within the context of my own music therapy practice and my clients before I can fully understand how I integrate these concepts. I hope to be completing my graphic organizer and start working on another that will help me develop my own assessment for my students - something I can complete quickly, during music therapy group sessions, that will indicate specific musical developmental characteristics and will allow me to write treatment plans that acknowledge this important consideration.


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


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