Case Studies

  • A voice of confidence
  • Supporting Concentration and Interaction
  • Connecting with the world
  • Personal growth through musical interaction

A voice of confidence

Ragini is 11 and has physical and neurological difficulties, is gastrostomy fed and has a severe learning disability. She found the world a scary place and did not tolerate most noises apart from music, and could sing before she started to speak aged 5. Ragini was very insecure and wanted to join in school Christmas plays but was scared by the microphone.
In Music Therapy Ragini was given the opportunity to open up and show her true potential and was soon singing beautifully using a microphone. She has performed many times now both solo and with a choir which has really brought out her confidence and has been vital in building her self-esteem which was previously very low. She now even comments that she is ‘very proud’ of herself. Ragini needed these specialist teaching methods that aren’t available in mainstream teaching to be able to learn due to her lack of concentration skills. She now has the opportunity to express herself through music and singing. Music gives Ragini an outlet for her frustrations, lack of social understanding and processing of all that she has been through so far in her short life.

Supporting Concentration and Interaction

Komal is 7 and has global developmental delay with sight and hearing difficulties, speech and language delay and is tactile defensive.
This is an extract from her mother’s account of Komal’s experience of Music Therapy:
“I believe that the therapist’s enthusiasm, his experience and patience have paid off and he has brought out Komal’s true musical potential. Music has developed her confidence both with the musical instruments and also with interacting with other children and learning how to take turns. Now she has the confidence to express herself and the ability to listen and then copy. Her hand-eye coordination has also massively improved. Komal focuses and concentrates on the instructions being given to her. The praise she receives from the therapist makes her face light up with excitement. Music has greatly enhanced Komal’s quality of life and that of her parents too! It is so rewarding to see her do well in something after receiving such a gloomy prognosis at birth.”

Connecting with the world

Gyan is 19 and autistic. He began music therapy over ten years ago, at a time when he was feeling isolated, unhappy, ‘living in his own world’ and uncomfortable with any verbal or music communication. Gradually, he started to experiment with musical sounds and slowly allowed the therapist to join him in making music and to make eye contact – this sense of security gave Gyan self-confidence. He began to show a natural talent for music with an ability to create melodies and rhythms and play familiar tunes.
Gyan has gone on to learn to read music, and performs confidently on the keyboard at our public concerts. Music enabled Gyan to find his own voice of expression, and start to enjoy life, and understand relationships through interactions, listening to another person, receiving information and building on it together. For the first time in his life, he has formed a strong bond with his brother, and they often like to ‘jam’ together.

Personal growth through musical interaction

Rohit (name changed) is a gentleman in his 40s who has severe learning disabilities. He was very anxious meeting new people and going to unfamiliar environments and was referred to music therapy by his mother to help develop his confidence and give him a means for self-expression. , from an early age enjoyed singing familiar songs such as nursery rhymes and Christmas carols and music has been a great source of enjoyment and meaning to him. At the start of therapy Rohit was very shy and appeared quite fearful, standing very close to his support worker or going into the corridor, returning for only a short time to sing songs with the therapist. When in the room, Rohit preferred to stand rather than sit at the piano, where he became more withdrawn and found it difficult to participate. Rohit was never pressured to sit down, however as therapy progressed and trust developed, Rohit started to move a chair next to the piano so that he could play alongside the therapist.
Due to Rohit’s love of singing, this was chosen as the starting point of therapy. Rohit was initially offered familiar songs such as “Oranges and lemons”, but sometimes was too shy to sing at all. Gradually as Rohit got to feel more comfortable with the therapist he began to sing more words and was able to choose which songs he wanted to sing, saying either the first or last words of the song title. Over time the therapist introduced popular music as more age appropiate for Rohit, including songs from The Beatles, Queen and Bob Marley. Rohit enjoyed singing them with the therapist and began to clearly express which songs were his favourites, through ignoring choices he did not want and saying the song title he did. Rohit was now able to sing short phrases in songs rather than the occasional word, and as he became more assured, he no longer needed to go into the corridor and would spend the entire session in the therapy room.
As Rohit’s confidence in singing grew, it was observed that he was starting to initiate using his own words in sessions to express aspects linked to his appearance or places he had visited, for example saying “shoes” or “park”. Through creating a song about his week, Rohit was able to reflect upon activities he had participated in. For example, when he visited a local park, Rohit was able to comment on what he had seen such as ducks, deer or flowers and was also able to talk about what he had drunk e.g. cup of tea or juice, which were then incorporated into the song. The therapist felt it was important to give Rohit an opportunity to express and voice aspects of himself and places he had visited, which were meaningful to him.
Being able to trust and feel comfortable with adults supporting him is of great importance to Rohit. This was observed as the therapeutic relationship grew and developed between the therapist and Rohit, and he became more confident to try new ways to make music using different instruments. Using a familiar song “Music Man”, Rohit chose to play different instruments for short periods of time, in particular the horn, piano, guitar and xylophone. Through providing a musical structure with gaps for Rohit to play, his music making became more confident, and the length of his playing also increased. This resulted in Rohit sitting down at the piano during one session of his own accord, and playing a few notes which then turned into an improvised piece of music with the therapist playing next to him. Using improvised play on the piano is now a major feature in the sessions and Rohit is able to incorporate this when familiar songs are used or when the therapist introduced a structured improvised piano piece, further demonstrating growth in his confidence and ability to express himself.
Rohit‘s story highlights how he has engaged so positively in music and how it has helped him to develop skills, confidence, relationships with others, and to make clear choices for himself, whilst giving a means of creativity, self-expression and different ways of communication through music-making.