Can I Have Your Attention, Please?

Published by Sara Chigani on: Nov 04, 2019 — Music Therapy

Did I grab your attention? Words can only do so much, but music takes our words a bit further. Have you ever gone to a crowded concert and noticed that as soon as the band starts to play, most, if not all, the chatter comes to a stop? Have you ever seen a child play with a Jack-In-The-Box toy? Typically the child turns the handle, playing “Pop Goes the Weasel”, until Jack pops out. The child knows that something is going to happen so he/she focuses on the toy until the toy pops. Music grabs people’s attention, is processed throughout the entire brain, and is even experienced throughout the body. We use all those things to help motivate, focus, and reward clients who struggle with attention.

Music is structured; it has a clear beginning, middle, and end. For individuals who struggle with attention, structure can be a very appealing thing. Providing a clear structure allows clients time to process what is happening, helping them refocus when needed. In a sense, it provides a client a “container”, if you will, to provide an outline of what the client is asked to do, while giving time and structure to do it.

While a music therapist has the ability to take interventions more in-depth, you can always use music at home to assist with focus. Let’s take getting ready in the morning for school. If your child gets easily distracted, dividing each different task into a song may help. For example, take the task of getting dressed and form each step into the lyrics of a song. It doesn’t have to be a number 1 hit, it can be as simple as taking a song that already exists and fitting your lyrics into the song. Let’s take the previously named song, “Pop Goes the Weasel” and change it to fit our need for this example:

“Getting dressed for sch-ool today,

We start with socks, then pa-nts.

Then shirt, and shoes, gr-ab your bag.

Hop off to sch-ool!”

You can try this with any other songs that your child enjoys to add more motivation. You and your child can also sing your song together, which may help your child learn the task easier in addition to performing the task. This is just a brief example and the tip of the iceberg. Give this a try and don’t be afraid to mix it up!

Sara Chigani, MA, MT-BC


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