Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the current diagnostic label for children and adults presenting with significant problems with attention, impulsivity and excessive activity is one of the most prevalent childhood psychiatric disorders (Barkley, 2014:3). This qualitative research study, situated at a school for children with ADHD, explores how involvement in Group Creative Music Therapy can promote social skills in six and seven year old children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Four weekly music therapy sessions were conducted with one class consisting of 10 students in the second grade. The class teacher was interviewed prior to and after the music therapy process and attended all music therapy sessions. An interesting component of this research was that the teacher was a music teacher who already had a wealth of experience of using music in her own life and with her classroom. The research data included interviews as well as video excerpts showing interaction between the children during music therapy sessions.
The findings from the qualitative analysis of interview transcripts and video excerpts indicate firstly the value of music itself as a tool for promoting social skills. There were also many similarities between how the teacher and music therapist used music to benefit children socially, such as exposing the children to music from different cultures or using turn-taking or movement activities to encourage the children to work together. Secondly, this study also highlights the differences between the work of music therapists and music educators. The main differences include the distinctive aims, particularly in this study where the music therapist’s aim was the development of social skills and the teacher’s aim was music education - with social influences as an added benefit to the educational process. Based on their aims, music therapists and music teachers use alternate methods and ways of managing and drawing children in. The findings show how music therapy can influence the development of social skills in children with ADHD - as the music therapist uses specific clinical skills to help children engage freely and spontaneously with others, while also offering them new experiences of themselves and one another. Therefore, the findings also show helpful complementary relationships between music therapists and teachers, as music therapists can help teachers use tools and techniques from music therapy in their classes and teachers can also suggest certain music for therapists to utilise in therapy sessions. This study strongly advocates for both music education and music therapy, as the findings indicate that both fields are beneficial for this client group.
Mini Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2017.