Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) uses research-based techniques that use music and rhythm to directly affect brain functioning. It focuses on specific, non-musical goals that are relevant to the child’s everyday life, and produces changes in the brain that extend far beyond the music therapy session.
While standard Music Therapy still uses music to reach non-musical goals, it is usually focused within the social/emotional domain. Neurologic Music Therapy focuses directly on music and rhythm’s physical effect on the connections in the brain. Specific, consistent NMT techniques are used that are research and evidence-based.
Neurologic Music Therapy interventions are used to focus on areas including:
Rhythm activates many areas of the brain (on both hemispheres) simultaneously, and for this reason can be used to build new connections (neuropathways) in the brain. These new pathways can lead to parts of the brain that are not accessible by other means of therapy. NMT uses music and rhythm to build connections and stimulate the brain to reach functional goals, therefore changing the brain in the process. The brain and the child are changed by music.
- Sensory Integration
- Example: providing proprioceptive and other sensory input paired with specific rhythm based on the child’s arousal level
- Cognition and Attention Control
- Example: combining instrument play or movement with musical elements such as melody and rhythm to train attention in the brain
- Speech Initiation and Sequencing
- Example: using a steady beat to anticipate (supporting initiation) and organize (supporting sequencing) speech through speaking, chanting, or singing; using specific melodies and rhythms to simulate normal speech patterns
- Movement and Coordination
- Example: therapeutically playing instruments with rhythmic support; using rhythm to prepare the motor system for movement