Photo: La’Maze Johnson
Gathered in a small auditorium at the Indiana University Health Riley Children’s Hospital, a group of board certified music therapists have handed out drums and other percussion instruments to children and their families. The therapists begin a steady rhythm, and ask the attendees to first try to match the beat, and then to improvise a rhythmic pattern over the established rhythm.
The drumming quickly dissolves into a din, but as this happens, the parents’ faces are lighting up. This particular demonstration is part of an event called “Indy Sings: A Music Therapy Experience.” It’s showing how music therapy—and the rhythmic component of music specifically—can help children on the autism spectrum practice motor coordination and personal expression.
The event included many different demonstrations for the children—like sing-alongs of well-known songs like “Don’t Worry Be Happy” or the recent YouTube sensation “What Does the Fox Say?”—each followed by a brief description of the specific music therapy techniques used in the demonstration for the parents.