Music therapy is the clinical use of music to address a patient’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Our music therapist, Melinda Ng, MT-BC, uses the familiarity of music to help children feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar hospital setting. “Music therapy is something that patients can relate to. It is something that is safe,” said Ng. “Music helps provide opportunities for expression while also providing family support.”
The primary goals of the music therapy program are to:
One of Ng’s favorite music therapy programs is the Galveston Shriners Hospital’s Music and Movement program. It includes a group of patient’s ages 2 to 6 who have just finished their inpatient stays. During the program, patients navigate an obstacle course, which provides a variety of fun activities, while developing the fine motor skills needed to work through the course. Children might crawl through a tunnel or balance on a beam, for example.
Ng’s sessions always begin with a welcome song that allows her to see what kinds of stimuli the patients respond to and if the patients can visually and verbally focus. She continues the sessions by encouraging patients to engage with and manipulate musical instruments, especially those that use fine motor skills, to promote the movement they are practicing. Available instruments include a guitar, piano floor mat, tambourines and drums. Each session ends with a final song, where Ng works on sounds, speech and language by imitating mouth movements and saying goodbye to the instruments and participants. Ng loves the role that music therapy has with the patients in the hospital. “Music therapy is a lot of improvisation that turns into an outlet together,” said Ng. “Music is so familiar and versatile that it can be tailored to meet the individual needs of each child.”