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Enhancing Health and Wellbeing With Music

Mar 30th, 2023 | by NAPA Team


March 30th, 2023

Interview with Anita Connell, Music Therapist and NAPA Consultant 

In this interview we learn a little more about Music Therapy and how it can be used for children.

How did you first become aware of music therapy?

The first music therapy practice I had was when I was much younger. I would sing to my uncle who was born with Down syndrome and didn’t communicate with words. Then, years later, working for the music retailer HMV, we sponsored a music therapy charity. A mum of a young child with Down syndrome visited one day and spoke about how powerful music therapy was in supporting connection, self-expression and engagement with others for her and her child. It was a game changer for me and I switched career to become a music therapist.

How does music therapy work?

It depends on what you’d like music therapy to achieve; to support emotional wellbeing; to develop communication and language skills; to improve motor movement or finger dexterity; to simply play music with others and develop musical skills to extend your social connections.

Is it because of this range of possibilities that you design very tailored programs?

Exactly. What does the individual want to achieve through their music therapy? And what instruments do they want to play?

What musical ability is needed?

None! Music Therapists can start from scratch. We see people who have NDIS funding, as well as people experiencing challenges with their mental health. We visit specialist schools and facilities, providing individual and group programs. We also conduct research and we’re finding that people playing music using improvisation and creative play can improve memory, attention and wellbeing who’ve never played music before.

What instruments do you mainly use?

Guitars (electric and acoustic), pianos and drums – lots of different drums as rhythm is a huge part of supporting connection and regulation. Also Xylophones, saxophones, trumpets & flutes. The list goes on!

Do you have a favourite part of the entire process?

While you have a plan for each session, whatever the person brings to the therapy space is where we’ll start from. That means having an improvisational mindset, being able to think on your feet. It can be a real joy to just ‘play’ and follow someone’s lead to then establish how the program will develop to support their wellbeing.

What are your long-term goals in Music Therapy?

We want to make a difference, to individuals and our local community. We want to highlight the strengths and positives of disability, to bring programs and advocacy that support greater accessibility and inclusion.

About the Author

Anita Connell has extensive experience as a music therapist providing individual and group programs for children and young adults with disabilities in clinical setting as well as school, hospital and community based settings. Her passion is to support communication, creativity and socio-emotional wellbeing through her music therapy practice. Additionally, as her programs include music, Anita guarantees a motivational and fun experience while supporting the achievement of therapeutic outcomes. Anita is currently completing her PhD studies on the cognitive and socio-emotional benefits of music through learning and improvisational play. She is the Director of Tuned In Music Therapy offering programs of music therapy and community based activities with a focus on fostering greater inclusion of people with disabilities in the local community.

Anita is available for consults at NAPA Sydney between the hours of 8:00am -12:00pm on Fridays. For further information, or to book an assessment, please contact Anita on 0416 102 393 or anita@tunedinmusictherapy.com. You can learn more about Anita and her services by visiting https://www.tunedinmusictherapy.com/

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