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Musique, musicothérapie et développement de l’enfant

br2005_61Vaillancourt, Guylaine (2005). Musique, musicothérapie et développement de l’enfant [Music, Music Therapy and Children’s Development]. Montréal: Éditions de l’Hôpital Ste-Justine, collection Pour les parents.

This book has a unique mission in its publication on music therapy in Québec and in Canada: it is intended for non professionals, in particular parents. It is written in such a way as to fill this mission, in an informative and a clear style, dealing with the basics of music and music therapy in the development of children.

The book is divided into two parts: musical development and music as therapy. In the first part, it defines music and its general impact on child development through listening, playing and singing. It also deals with creativity, communication, the quality of environmental sound; it offers advice to parents; it presents broadly the effects of music on the physical, affective, cognitive and social dimensions, giving numerous examples on the use of music by parents and children. This first part concludes with a reflection on music as stimulation, education and therapy.

The second part of the book presents music as therapy. The clear distinction between the two parts of the book is worth mentioning: both have a place in child development and therapy is for those with special needs. The author does not present music therapy as a panacea. Always with the aim of presenting the essential aspects of music therapy, this second part deals directly with the clinical dimension. Mrs. Vaillancourt defines music therapy, discusses false assumptions about it, describes broadly the job of the music therapist, the clinical documentation (initial assessment, group or individual follow-up, final report) and the methods used (instrumental and vocal improvisation, singing, listening, using tales, legends and myths, music and movement, music and art, integrating the family). The author uses clinical vignettes when presenting the special populations in music therapy (children with autism, intellectual deficiency, sensory deficit, hyperactivity, in palliative care, etc.). As in the first part, she offers advice to parents. She then places music therapy in the larger realm of the arts therapies.

The appendixes in the book include: components of music, different types of music therapy training, the different modalities of therapy through the arts and a list describing decibels and the sounds they carry. The book ends with references and a list of resources (internet sites in Canada, France, USA and international, and books for parents). It is well documented and does not state a hypothesis without citing sources.

One element could have been developed more: the clinical vignettes. It could have been interesting to have more information on the follow-up of the clinical intervention that was described, without interfering with the text although this happens it only appears once in all the vignettes cited. The book presents particular moments in therapy rather than case studies (cf. Bruscia, Case studies in music therapy). But keeping in mind that the aim of the book intends to illustrate the use of music therapy to the non-professional, such a decision can be justified. Overall, this book is an excellent introduction to the pertinence of music and music therapy in child development, intended for a broad and general audience.

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