A year ago, Jada, a student in Lesley Sawhook’s special education class at Mason Intermediate School seemed withdrawn, and showed little facial expression as she joined the music therapy group. But after two sessions of music therapy, Jada began to engage by smiling and paying attention. Now after two semesters her whole face lights up and she trembles with excitement when the group starts a song that she recognizes, and she remains attentive and engaged for the entire music therapy session.
Once a week, nine students in Sawhook’s class gather with music therapist Becky Bergh, and use music to work on goals such as turn taking, interacting with peers and responding to cues. Sawhook applied for and received a grant from Melodic Connections, a nonprofit music therapy organization that operates through foundation grants and private donations, who provides the service. Support Melodic Connections.
The music therapy program at Mason Intermediate School is goal driven. The special educator and the music therapist collaborate to determine program goals, and Bergh designs a curriculum that uses evidence-based music therapy practices to help students achieve those goals. From keeping the beat with egg shakers, to playing call-and-response in teams with boomwhackers, these students are showing progress toward goals in social and academic skills in this innovative music program.
“We have seen students improving in the area of turn taking, eye contact and responses to greetings,” said special education teacher Lesley Sawhook. “All of my students love to learn through music. Working with the therapist allows us to teach them in new and exciting ways. Through the use of instruments and their engagement through music I have seen great strides, especially in turn taking, that I’m not sure we would have seen without the music therapy.”