Proximity & Beyond Enrichment: Music Therapy

Chelsea Penney
December 8, 2022

Proximity Learning virtual school students receive free after-school enrichment through our new program Proximity & Beyond. All virtual school students are invited to participate in an interactive webinar 1-2 times per month when we host guest speakers, including scientists, authors, and college admission experts, to give them even more learning opportunities.

Music therapy

According to Humana, music therapy is the use of music by a qualified music therapist to address a person’s physical, emotional, cognitive, or social needs. Music therapists design treatment sessions based on a person’s particular development. Treatment options include creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. According to the American Music Therapy Association, research shows music therapy can be used to help:

  • Improve overall physical rehabilitation
  • Facilitate movement
  • Increase motivation to engage in treatment
  • Offer emotional support for the person and his or her family
  • Provide an outlet to express feelings
  • Improve communication

This Proximity & Beyond session featured a music therapist who encouraged students to show kindness through song. Proximity Learning virtual 5th-grade teacher, Christine Law, introduced certified music therapist, LeeAnn Guidry, from Magnolia Music Therapy. As a music therapist, Mrs. Guidry “helps people use music to go through all their different feelings and different things happening in their lives.” The session focused on spreading kindness through music.

Sing-along session

Mrs. Guidry started by leading a song about kindness. She shared the lyrics on the screen so the students could sing along. Then, she asked students to think about things they do to show kindness. Students wrote in the chat that they help clean, use their manners, give compliments, and more. 

Next, Mrs. Guidry encouraged students to be thankful when it’s hard to be kind. In the chat, students wrote things they’re thankful for, and the class sang “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. After singing the song, Mrs. Guidry invited the students to rewrite the lyrics as a group. They made the classic song more personal by adding their own words of kindness and thankfulness. For example, instead of singing, “I see trees of green, red roses too,” the students sang, “I see kind people, rainbows too.” They individualized the song to express what makes their world wonderful.

Throughout the session, she used and showed instruments like a guitar and ukulele as she sang along. The students asked about her instruments, and she explained that she often uses multiple instruments during therapy to help her patients.

Musical classrooms

Mrs. Law says, “I use music in my classroom almost daily. Sometimes it is a song as they are coming into the class each morning. Sometimes classical music plays softly in the background as the students are testing. Other times, it is a song about a concept, such as the state capitols of a region or a plate tectonic rap song. I find that music is easy for the students to relate to and helps memory function tremendously. 

“It can help their emotional state to hear uplifting music in the morning or help calm anxious nerves during a test. As a musician, music is in every aspect of my life. Studies have shown that music helps test scores, leads to higher graduation rates, lowers discipline issues, fosters higher cognitive abilities, and improves the ability to accept constructive criticism.”

Mrs. Guidry says, “Being a choir teacher as well as a Music Therapist, I use music daily not only to meet our goals as singers, but to regulate my students' nervous systems as they enter and exit my room each day. I understand the ways in which music can help them calm down, become energized, or give them comfort when they need it outside of school. 

“We spend a good bit of time in my classroom feeling the vibrations our voices cause in our body, paying attention to the deep breaths we need to support our singing, and even singing songs similar to the ones I'd use in my music therapy sessions. It's important for me to introduce music in a way that is beneficial to their education, but also to their emotional health as they navigate through middle school.”

Proximity & Beyond is an exclusive after-school enrichment program for our virtual school clients. To participate, click here to learn more about Proximity Learning virtual schools.

Click here to learn about jobs for virtual teachers.

Chelsea Penney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing from University of Colorado Denver and her Masters of Science in Marketing from Texas A&M University Commerce. She loves living in Austin, TX and working on the frontline as Content Marketing Manager for Proximity Learning.

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