WEST POINT – Kids in West Point can get ready to shake, rattle, and roll their way to better health and learning.
West Point resident and certified music therapist Elizabeth Haley is starting up Kindermusik in Town. Kindermusik is a program dedicated to improving physical, psychological, and cognitive abilities as well as social interaction, in children.
Haley will be teaching two 45-minute music therapy classes for children 2-4 on Saturday mornings at St. John's Episcopal Church, 916 Main Street.
•Wiggle & Grow is open to kids ages 2-3, and will start at 10:15 a.m.
•Laugh & Learn is open to kids 3-4 and will start at 11:15 a.m.
"Kindermusik provides opportunities to build gross and fine-motor skills through movement activities and instrument playing," said Haley.
"For example, if a child can hold a striker to play a triangle, they can work on holding a pencil and building hand-eye coordination…[and] music-making can also help babies gain awareness of their limbs."
Haley added that Kindermusik also teaches children special skills, such as taking turns, recognizing emotions, sharing, following directions, vocabulary, problem-solving, increasing attention spans, and patience.
Haley's Kindermusik classes are open to any child age 2-4.
"As a music therapist, I received in-depth education and training in working with children who have special needs, and my Kindermusik classes are open to, and accepting of, children with all needs."
Classes cost $75 per month (10 percent discounts for military families and those with two or more children enrolled) and include digital "Kindermusik@Home" materials.
These materials include: the monthly theme's storybook, a CD of the theme's music and songs, and activities and games to play together.
"These @Home materials are terrific because it allows the family to continue the fun from Kindermusik classes throughout the week," said Haley, who works at Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg.
Parents and caregivers are also invited to attend Kindermusik classes with their children.
"This gives them a wonderful opportunity to bond with their children and to observe their child's success in a special way," Haley said. "It also gives parents an opportunity to meet other parents and caregivers, which can be a challenge for a parent who is new to town, employed full-time, and/or has a child with different or special needs."
According to Haley, her Kindermusik classes will begin once three children, at least, are enrolled.
Aside from Kindermusik, Haley also provides personal music therapy services to people of every age and need.
In fact, Haley specializes in working with adults with dementia and/or mental health problems.
According to the American Music Therapy, "music can promote relatedness, relaxation, learning, and self-expression."
Documented music therapy research has shown that it can:
•Reduce muscle tension
•Reduce anxiety, depression, and stress
•Reduce chronic pain
•Enhance interpersonal relationships
•Improve group cohesiveness
•Provide a successful and safe emotional release
While at Eastern State, Haley worked with a patient who had heard voices for decades, but was able to get relief through musical therapy.
"When we engaged in clinical musical improvisation, he enthusiastically drummed with me for 35-40 minutes," she said. "While processing our experience afterwards, I asked him if the voices had bothered him. He said they had not and it was so powerful for him to realize that he could give himself a break from the voices by drumming and, more importantly, that there was still a part of him that was healthy and whole, that hadn't been broken by his mental illness."
"It was a real turning point for him in his recovery."
Improvisation, or the spontaneous creation of music using the voice, instrument, and body, is just one of the ways in which musical therapists work with clients.
The other three ways are:
•Receptive: Includes listening and responding to live or recorded music.
•Recreative: Focuses on singing and playing pre-composed music.
•Composition: Creating vocal and instrumental pieces.
"This is the work I was meant to do and I love it," Haley said.
For more information on Kindermusik classes in West Point, or music therapy, please call Haley at: 804-843-843-2842 (corrected number).
Information courtesy American Music Therapy Association
Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.