Figurenotes: Music Therapy for Your Child

In a previous post, “How Music Therapy Can Help Your Child”, we explained how Music Therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that uses music to improve social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Musical activities are tailored for each individual client in order to achieve personalised goals and outcomes, and can include expressive and receptive techniques. Some examples of these include improvisation or music composition via singing, body movements or playing of musical instruments, guided listening activities, and song writing and song analysis.

In Music Therapy with Figurenotes, clients use a specially adapted music notation system called Figurenotes to facilitate practical music-making, thus enhancing the therapeutic outcomes.

What is Figurenotes?

Figurenotes is a concrete, matching system using colours and shapes that enables people to play what they see. It was developed in Finland in the mid-1990s and is now used in several countries with people of all ages in therapeutic and educational settings. The abstract, symbolic nature of traditional music notation requires considerable cognitive processing and working memory, which can be a barrier to musical participation. Figurenotes allows people of all ages and abilities to be involved in music-making. As visual supports can be highly effective for people on the autism spectrum, Figurenotes opens up new worlds of musical engagement. Children participating in Music Therapy with Figurenotes are guided to play exercises, melodies, ensembles, and games using shapes and colours matched from specially adapted musical scores onto their instrument.

What can Figurenotes do?

  • Encourage children to play songs and pieces of their own choice
  • Allows children to progress at their own pace
  • Provides a pathway from individual music-making to playing in groups
  • Promotes creative work by making musical pictures and stories with Figurenotes

In addition, research has shown Music Therapy with Figurenotes can be used successfully with children on the autism spectrum in small group settings to help develop positive social interactions. When used with family members, Music Therapy with Figurenotes can strengthen family relationships with siblings and parents.

Music Therapy with Figurenotes is an enjoyable, motivating therapy experience available to children aged 4 years and above. No previous musical experience is required. A short assessment session will determine a child’s suitability and set therapy goals. Children usually initially receive individual music therapy. When clients are ready, there is the option to transition to small group sessions with other children or with family members.

What are the benefits?

  • Improving fine- and gross- motor skills
  • Developing visual-auditory-motor connections
  • Improving social interactions
  • Enhancing self-concept through gaining in self-competence
  • Regulating of emotions
  • Learning to play a musical instrument

Who can access music therapy services?

At Sydney Children’s Practice, anyone, including children 4 to 17 years of age, with known or suspected cognitive, attentional, or learning difficulties can be referred for assessment. We also see children to assess for giftedness. These assessments are run by Registered Music Therapist Mr Matthew Breaden who has experience and skills in providing music therapy services for children and adolescents, and specialises in using Figurenotes.

How do I find out more?

If you have any more questions, or to book a Music Therapy assessment session for your child, contact our friendly team at Sydney Children’s Practice on (02) 9564 3758.