Music at Summer Camp

Music and formal music therapy are fundamental parts of our program.  There is significant evidence supporting the value of music in promoting social, emotional and motivational development in children with autism. 1 2 3 Benefits include:4

  • Music is an effective task motivator for many students, decreasing non-compliant behavior during initial instruction and providing a means for increased attention and duration of on-task participation.
  • Music functions as a mnemonic aid, assisting students in foundational learning and retention of academic facts, social & communication scripts, and task sequences.
  • Similar to the use of visual supports, music cuing provides a means to structure auditory stimuli and speech output for students with cognitive or language delays.
  • Music provides concurrent auditory and kinesthetic learning opportunities for students with multiple disabilities, severe orthopedic impairments, or students with visual impairments.
  • Music is a successful inclusion tool, engaging special learners and typical peers together in an environment that is meaningful to all participants.

 For people living with developmental disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder or other related disorder, music therapy can help with:

    • Increases focus, or sustained attention;
    • Decreases pain perception;
    • Opportunity for expression of feelings or decision making;
    • Increase of communication and speech needs;
    • Focuses on social skills such as eye contact, appropriate touching, personal space, overall group cohesion and interpersonal relationships;
    • Opportunity to isolate and exercise upper and/or lower extremities, based on need;
    • Promotes overall wellness; and
    • Provides sense of empowerment and encouragement you may not find elsewhere.

There is also strong evidence that individuals with I/DD and autism can better learn or enhance individual skills such as counting, learning colors, taking turns, learning the feelings of others when these are first presented through music, song or other rhythmic 6 cuing, and that long term music therapy has been effective in achieving established objectives in virtually all cases. 7 “Music influences human behavior by affecting the brain and subsequently other bodily structures in ways that are observable, identifiable, measurable, and predictable, thereby providing the necessary foundation for therapeutic applications.”8

Music interventions can be designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, improve communication, enhance memory, help deal with stress, and progress physical rehabilitation. It can include anything from listening to music to playing an instrument.9 This can include anything from listening to music, singing, playing an instrument to dancing and has been specifically established to help children with disabilities. 10“Music and music therapy has undeniable results when dealing with children who have disabilities. Children who have social issues, and have trouble making friends have also been known to benefit from music and formal music therapy.”11

“Everyone in the world relates to music. It is the universal language and has the power to communicate with those that communication seems impossible.”12  “We know that music therapy treatment is associated with improvement” in children with autism, reports Catherine Lord, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan specializing in autism research.13 “The reason behind such great response to music is that autistic children do not engage in normal social activities, and music sessions give them an opportunity to express themselves.”14  Such therapies “aim to improve self-awareness and awareness of others. It may also provide an opportunity to explore the expression of emotions.  There is some evidence that music can improve children’s socialisation, particularly their communication skills.”15 “[R]esearch tells us that individuals with specific diagnoses such as autism … may have elevated preference or heightened responses to music when compared to typically developing peers.”16 Even more exciting, Australian researcher Allan Snyder goes one step further, arguing that many individuals on the autism spectrum may be “savants” who can access creative genius freely, and that music may be a avenue to this discovery.17 18

The revolutionary (and controversial work) of French medical doctor Alfred A. Tomatis, who treated a variety of conditions, including autism19 20 21 22 and who is cited on the Autism Speaks website 23, supports the benefits of listening and of music therapy. 24 25

Tim Ringgold, a music therapist, observes that we are all “rhythmic beings”, that music echoes the rhythms of our own bodies and thereby creates instant bonds between people sharing the same music, in a way that avoids the many social obstacles that prevent effective communications and connection.26

With professional assistance, we have established a self sustaining and targeted music therapy program for our campers, and provide hands-on training for musicians among our regular Summer Camp and Year Round staff.

Our program was originally developed in 2013 by Professor Petra Kern, Ph.D., MT-DMtG, MT-BC, MTA (www.musictherapy.biz), who is Past President, World Federation of Music Therapy, Editor, imagine Early Childhood Online Magazine, Adjunct Professor of Music Therapy, Marylhurst University and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Louisville and two of her students. It was implemented successfully in the Summer of 2013 by one of them. Each summer since, we have had one or two music therapy students or graduate certified music therapists managing our music program, with great success.

The revolutionary (and controversial work) of French medical doctor Alfred A. Tomatis, who treated a variety of conditions, including autism19 20 21 22 and who is cited on the Autism Speaks website23, supports the benefits of listening and of music therapy.24 25 .

Tim Ringgold, a music therapist, observes that we are all “rhythmic beings”, that music echoes the rhythms of our own bodies and thereby creates instant bonds between people sharing the same music, in a way that avoids the many social obstacles that prevent effective communications and connection.26

With professional assistance, we have established a self sustaining and targeted music therapy program for our campers, and provide hands-on training for musicians among our regular Summer Camp and Year Round staff.  

Our program was originally developed in 2013 by Professor Petra Kern, Ph.D., MT-DMtG, MT-BC, MTA (www.musictherapy.biz), who is Past President, World Federation of Music Therapy, Editor, imagine Early Childhood Online Magazine, Adjunct Professor of Music Therapy, Marylhurst University and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Louisville and two of her students. It was implemented successfully in the Summer of 2013 by one of them.  Each summer since, we have had one or two music therapy students or graduate certified music therapists managing our music program, with great success.