The Music Therapy group consisted of four year 4 boys. The boys were referred to the Music Therapy group by the Safeguarding Lead and my supervisor, with the hope that the safe and musical environment could aid in boosting their self-esteem, building their confidence and developing healthy peer to peer relations.
The group ran for 9 sessions in total, led by a Trainee Music Therapist who was supervised by an experienced Music Therapist working in the same school. The sessions were structured with a check-in and check-out at the beginning and end, with space in the middle for several musical activities. The structure of sessions was open to allow change if the group members wished to explore any musical idea of their own.
At the beginning of the work, the group presented as quiet and reserved, needing large amounts of encouragement and support to engage with the activities presented to them. The boys sat politely in the circle, only speaking when spoken to or asked a question. There seemed to be a sense of anxiety and uncertainty around what the aim of the group was and why there was a trainee facilitating the group.
As the sessions progressed and the group became more familiar with itself, there seemed to be a growing confidence within the music. Musical check-ins and outs were becoming longer and conversations spurred on by the music making were beginning to develop. However, it was also clear at this point in the sessions that not everyone in the group got along and disagreements and conflict started to emerge. This provided an important opportunity to foster conversations around compromise, working through disagreements and how to manage the emotions that arise from them.
Within the middle sessions, the Trainee Music Therapist communicated with the parents of each group member to inform them of how their child was doing as well as answer any questions that the parents might have.
As the group’s confidence continued to grow, their ability to create sustained music began to increase. This was seen by the trainee as an opportunity to introduce the idea of improvising and creating some of their own music. Initially the group found it difficult to sustain music making on their own without the clear structure of the previous musical activities but quite quickly, with some support musically from the trainee, the group was able to improvise music together. The group seemed to continue to grow in confidence, with members singing and/or playing a variety of different instruments.
During later sessions, the group expressed sadness at the impending ending of the group and wished to make the final sessions the best they could possibly be. The group decided to have a small celebration during the final session in recognition of the time they had all spent together. The group improvised an energetic and lively piece of music whilst members danced and moved about the room, playing all the different instruments in a variety of different ways.
At the end of the sessions, the Trainee Music Therapist spoke to each of the parents to update them of the development of their child. The trainee was able to provide feedback as to the developing confidence and independence the group members were expressing. It was expressed by several parents that they had noted the importance their child placed on the group and enquired about how to seek out further music therapy.
Arthur O’Hara, Music Therapy Trainee, Ealing Music Therapy