Music therapy in schools

You are here

Mon, 1/8/2016

We're proud to deliver music therapy in partnership with a range of organisations across the UK including schools like Highfield School in West Yorkshire. Our music therapist Seb explains why music therapy means to Tom.


Tom is 16. Like many teenagers, he loves to sing and dance. He has a beaming smile, he’s shy but open and friendly and particularly loves music from the 60s and 70s.  

Living with severe learning difficulties, Tom’s concentration levels in class can be affected and so his school referred him to me for music therapy.

From the beginning of our sessions, Tom appeared to be so motivated by music. He has allowed me to improvise freely with him, creating a musical framework that matched the quality and energy of his playing. He’s able to initiate ideas which I then acknowledge and develop into something which has structure and purpose. Through music, Tom can see that his contributions are valued as a musician.

He comes to each session eager to sing me a song he has composed in his head during the week. This usually begins with a melody, words or a specific rhythm which we then develop together. I’ll accompany him and sometimes teach him a chord on the guitar and Tom will set a beat whilst we sing together.

Tom is now beginning to realise his musical ideas and is fully experiencing his potential as a musician. His part in the music is integral – without him, the music does not exist.

His commitment to music therapy and skills as a composer and musician inspired us to create the school rock band. During his individual sessions, Tom also showed a great capacity for the drum kit and the band allows him to develop his skills further and engage in a creative and social activity with his peers. It has created an environment where Tom can initiate musical ideas, communicate assertively and, importantly, demonstrate that he can concentrate on musical tasks for long periods of time with no sign of drifting attention.

Before music therapy, Tom was socially isolated. Now, he’s flourishing as a member of the school band, and in individual music therapy sessions. As music therapy sessions continue, Tom and I are keen to further develop and focus on his songwriting skills and introduce this into the school band rehearsals.

By allowing him to engage in purposeful activity, music therapy has helped increase his concentration and attention span. His confidence, social interaction and communication have also developed; skills that I hope will transfer to other aspects of his life within school and at home.

Music therapy has been a way for Tom to access his individual creativity, sharing ideas and working purposefully at an activity in which his contributions are integral. His peers are now able to witness his creativity as part of a social group, providing an empowering and affirming experience for Tom.

Spotlight: