Music Therapy vs. Kindermusik: An Honest Comparison
The difference between a Kindermusik educator and a Board Certified Music Therapist becomes evident when working with children who need extra developmental support. Not that one approach is better or worse than another, but each simply serves a different purpose.
We are always thrilled to learn about children who benefit from community music classes such as Music Together, Kindermusik, MusicGarten, Let’s Play Music, etc. There are SO many wonderful options, and we hear great reports about the quality of these programs.
The majority of these curriculum based music programs are geared toward early childhood, and call upon the power of music to support children in early development. They also tap into parent-child bonding and even music education, depending on the program.
Recently we have been diving in to learn about the difference between all of these programs and which are best suited to certain needs.
And of course, we’re especially interested in learning how they are different from music therapy.
Most recently we have taken a closer look at Kindermusik, and are impressed with the quality and extensiveness of their program.
Kindermusik is an impressive, thoughtfully designed, and influential program. They do a lot of good for a lot of children, and serve as a strong foundation for curriculum-based music programs.
So how is it different from music therapy?
After a great deal of research, this is our attempt to answer the burning question:
What is the difference between Kindermusik vs. Music Therapy? Where is each approach most beneficial?
It appears that the biggest difference in the type of children who benefit from Kindermusik vs. Music Therapy is type of experience and expertise they are seeking. If a child needs individualized attention because of unique needs, challenges, or strengths, music therapy is the most beneficial option. But if a child will thrive in an environment that is geared toward general child development, then Kindermusik is an excellent choice.
From our review of both approaches, it appears that Kindermusik is best suited to organizations who:
- Serve typically developing children
- Want to provide a general opportunity for developmental growth through music
- Have larger group sizes
- Prefer using recorded music for learning
When you child attends a Kindermusik class they enter a playful and nurturing environment where they will sing, move, play instruments, and hear stories—all while developing social skills, problem-solving skills, pre-math skills, and a foundation for reading. The research-based curriculum focuses on whole-child development and helps parents understand how their child is developing musically, cognitively, and socially.
Kindermusik offers classes based on the age range of the child. In early intervention, the 18 month to 3 year old curriculum is most useful.
Activities for age 18 month to 3 years
Exploring movement concepts and participating in musical interactions with objects and others
Discovering different ways instruments can make sounds and experiencing a wide range of musical concepts
Identifying and vocally imitating sounds and learning to describe them
Learning to associate a picture with a sound
Singing songs with language patterns that explore rhythm, speech sounds, syntax, and rhyme
Increased alertness, self-control, and ability to regulate their own movements
Stabilization of muscles necessary for healthy posture and overall balance
Improved coordination and locomotor skills, fine motor skills, and finger and hand strength
Strengthened ability to memorize, sequence, and predict patterns
Development of early pre-literacy and number skills
(information obtained from kindermusik.com)
Music Therapy appears to be best suited to organizations who:
- Serve children with behavioral, cognitive, physical, communication, or social/emotional challenges
- Seek to help children overcome challenges in #1 and track progress in those areas
- Have smaller group sizes
- Prefer a provider with clinical and musical training who uses live music
Specifically, Board Certified Music Therapists are trained to 1) Assess the developmental needs of the children they serve, 2) Design goals and objectives to target in therapy, 3) Use music to support, guide, and target specific developmental needs and 4) Help generalize progress to areas outside of the music therapy setting.
As for specific developmental needs, music therapy is most beneficial for children who are experiencing a significant struggle in one or more of the following areas:
Speech and Language development
Cognitive development (attention, memory, etc.)
A Board Certified Music Therapist is trained in how music impacts all of these areas of development, how to use it systematically to address and promote growth in each area, and most importantly, how to change and adjust in the moment to meet the ever changing needs of the children in the group.
Music Therapists are not limited to a pre-determined curriculum, but rather they have unique improvisatory skills that enable them to move with the needs of the group. This is especially beneficial when working with children who do not follow typical developmental patterns and who may have unique skills or needs.
It’s a completely different line of work, serves an entirely different purpose, and benefits children in a completely different way.
Here’s a quick-glance comparison chart looking at the differences between these two valuable approaches to early childhood music.
|Guided by Quality Research on Music and Development, also has 2 research studies specific to Kindermusik program||Evidence-Based Practice with 60 years of clinical music therapy research|
|Multi-Sensory Experience||Multi-Sensory Experience|
|Addresses generic developmental needs||Targets specific developmental needs based on clinical assessment|
|Predetermined curriculum||Activities/Interventions based on unique group needs|
|4 month Training||4 Year Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy + 6 month clinical internship with a Board Certified Music Therapist + Passage of National Board Exam|
|Does not track child’s progress||Tracks Individual Progress and works toward specified goals and objectives|
|Typically larger groups||Groups stays smalls to maximize individual progress|
|Average of $10-15 per person for 30 minute class||Average of $15-$20 per person for 30 minute group|