Bringing Music as Therapy to Myanmar

Posted in Blog on 25th September 2013

We are really pleased to hear from Dana Jacobson who Tsvia Horesh, our project partner, recruited from Israel to take on the role of assistant during this 4 week project in Myanmar. We hope you enjoy the updates and photos from the first two weeks.

"First week: We arrived to Yangon on the 9th of September, and started visiting the different special education schools in town. There, we met the teachers who have participated the last music therapy courses, and also new teachers. In some schools we had the chance to see live music sessions, and in some we just spoke with the teachers and tried to understand what are their current musical activities, wishes and expectations from the future course. The most common goals and questions related to the ability to improve the child's concentration and to “follow teacher's instruction”. Few of the teachers had more emotional goals as “I want him to learn how to lose”.

This week was very exiting, bur also exhausting and over well-ming. We saw a lot of children suffering from various disabilities, missing the appropriate and satisfying treatment for their needs, according to our western point of view ( like a child with sever C.P, that sits in an unsuitable wheel chair, with his head almost between his legs). But, together with this hard sits, we also met a lot of young teachers, filled with love and motivation to help this children, and to learn. With plenty of excitement we've started planning the intensive two days workshop- a starter for the training course.

Second week: We've opened this week with a two days intensive workshop for all the teachers. We aimed to focus on basic issues in music therapy- the therapeutic relationship, setting, individual and group therapy, the therapeutic process, and exploration of emotions, behaviors and needs of the client so as the therapists. Our wish was to conduct the workshop in a creative way and to give the participants the opportunity to experience for themselves what music therapy is. So , we did a lot of musical activities- constructed and free improvisations, musical activities from therapy, relaxation techniques and more. Each activity followed the theoretical explanation, in order for it to be understandable and reachable for them to apply in their own music sessions. The teachers cooperated a lot, and allowed themselves to try and play different instruments, dance freely and be childish and even fullish.. this two days were full of high energy, humor and a lot of music.

We moved on to the second stage of our course- working in two schools, Montesory and Eden center. We spent a day in each school, mind storming with the staff about the different therapies they want to conduct- with which children or group, and trying to plan this according to what we learned in the workshop- setting, goals and needs (for example, why to choose a particular child for music therapy, what would be the goals for him and how do we build a group- connecting children with similar disabilities, difficulties, age and so on). This part was very important, and it helped us and the teachers to check again their current work. For example, we talked about a 14 years old autistic girl, who's been meeting a teacher for music therapy sessions for 2 months. Through the conversation (collecting information about her, the process of therapy so far, the reason she started music therapy), we understood that actually her main problem is a social one,and not one who's related to issues of the initial relationship, so maybe she can gain more by participating in a group music therapy. Together with the teachers we've planned different groups, according to the children's needs, age differences and difficulties. We thought it would be more affective if the teachers will conduct the therapies, and we will be with them in the room, accompanying and helping but not as leaders of the session. By that, the teachers will start building the relationship with the children, and will experience this role with a safe supportive help."

Dana Jacobson (Project assisstant)

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