Music Improvisation with a Child with Autism


Hey everyone, welcome back to The Rhythm Tree, my name is Ryan Judd, I'm a board certified music therapist, here to give you some great ideas on how to use music to help children with special needs. If you haven't signed up for my newsletter yet, please do. I've got a link right below that you can click on and I'll give you even more great ideas and resources in my biweekly newsletter.

I just got back from Adam's Camp. And Adam's Camp is an amazing therapy camp for kids with special needs. They have one in Winter Park Colorado, they just opened one in Alaska, and the one I went to and worked at was on Nantucket. And I had the younger group, so kids around age four to eight with special needs, and had an amazing experience. And one of my campers, with autism, you know he had a lot of frustration and I think a lot of it was just because he needed to be heard. And but when he would come into music he just opened up and I think part of that was because I was listening and reflecting what he was saying through song. And he did something really amazing and unique which was to start to vocally improvise a song while I improvised on the guitar and it just lead to this beautiful improvisation, and I tried to put in some of the therapy ideas we were working on. Some of the interventions like asking for a break or asking for help if he's feeling overwhelmed and it was just a really special moment, I'm so glad I captured it on video.

You'll also see there's one point where I have an extended period of wait time, I think that's a great lesson for anyone, parents, therapists, educators, sometimes you really have to give these kids wait time in order to process the information. So there was the wait time, there was reflecting what he was saying, and not trying to necessarily sing over him but being really sensitive and when he would take a break, that's when I would try to get in some of these therapeutic interventions that we're working on via song. And he just had an amazing imagination, so we were singing about bees and bugs and flies and flowers and it was quite amazing, so I'm so happy to share that with you today.

The lessons learned, wait time. Huge for kids with special needs. Gotta give them that time to process. And whether you're a musician or not, I think that concept of improvisation, and following a child's lead. Giving them the freedom to be creative and imaginative, giving them the space to do that, some unstructured play activity where you can follow their lead and you never know where it's going to lead to so I want you to be open to that and it can be a great way to work on some of these goals.

So I hope you enjoy this clip, I think it's a fantastic one, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks, back at The Rhythm Tree.


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