Feeling safe and sound through music therapy

Primary students who began to experience anxiety and stress following a series of earthquakes are learning to build resilience by using music as a release.

Once a week at Seddon School, groups of eight to 10 students gather for a confidential, hour-long music therapy session.

During these sessions, which are run by qualified music therapists, students write and sing songs, compose music and play instruments. At the same time, they develop strategies and skills for wellbeing.

Principal Tania Pringle says the programme developed as a result of increased anxiety following the 2013 and 2016 Marlborough earthquakes.

"What happened following the 2016 earthquake was Blenheim South Rotary, with the support of Rotary International, wanted to look at what they could do knowing what we’d learnt from our 2013 earthquake and from the Christchurch earthquakes that the mental health of people is most significant," Tania says.

"Quite often with children, particularly with younger children, they don’t have the words to describe how they’re feeling, particularly in heightened anxiety situations, heightened stressful situations. It’s giving them an avenue so they can use music to get that out and then actually deal with it and develop those strategies they need to use in everyday life."

Students are selected for the programme after consultation with them, their parents and teachers. The sessions have helped students deal with the still ongoing aftershocks, which occur every few weeks.

"Every child has different strengths and outlets and how they need to deal with it," Tania says.

"It’s actually just that chance to get back and recentre yourself and that mindfulness and being able to each week put yourself back in a good state because it means you can carry on. From the earthquakes we noticed that that was the challenge, actually being able to centre themselves, be positive and be in the growth mindset."


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