Kid's Music Day

  • Sept. 27, 2018
  • #9499

Music touches people on a non-verbal level, so it is a wonderful way for special needs people to learn to communicate.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada in the studio with my friend, Shauna Amick, Hey, Shauna, glad to have you with us.     

SHAUNA: Hey there, Joni. I’m so happy to be here.

JONI: I hear that we are gearing up to celebrate the 3rd Annual Music Day next week.

SHAUNA: That’s right, and you know I love the idea of a special day set aside to remind us of the powerful ways God uses music to build up children, and especially because I’ve seen Him use music in miraculous ways in my own daughter’s life.

JONI: Well I know that your Sarah, who has Down syndrome, loves music, but with her intellectual disability and limited speech, how does music play into her life? What’s the deal?

SHAUNA: Well, you know the wonderful thing about music is that first off it stimulates every area of the brain, so children with special needs – and adults also – connect with music on a deep level regardless of any language barriers they may experience otherwise. Music therapy is so therapeutic because music is non-verbal. So even though Sarah is really non-verbal for all practical purposes, when she listens to music, she really comes alive. And research shows us that it’s music builds up Sarah’s communication and social skills. Plus, it just makes her happy!

JONI: I bet you’ve got a great story behind all this, right?         

SHAUNA: By the time Sarah was four years old, she still had absolutely no language whatsoever. The only way she could communicate with us was either through crying or screaming. Joni, it was hard! My husband would come home from work at the end of the day and I would literally go lock myself in the bathroom just for a few moments to be alone for the first time all day and to not have anyone crying or the behaviors that come from a child with special needs and unable to communicate with anyone else.

JONI: So four years of crying and screaming, that’s how she communicates, where does music play into this?

SHAUNA:: Well, my husband had gone out to do a little shopping and he had been to the dollar store and he paid a whole dollar for an Elvis Concert video, and when he walked in and showed me, that I kind of made a face and said: “What are we going to do with this?” We were not huge Elvis fans before that day, but my husband Steve said: ‘We know Sarah loves music, let’s just pop it in and see what she does.’ The moment Elvis started singing, Sarah was completely captivated and before long, she started singing. She was making noises that went right along with the melody and time after time of watching it; she was actually able to sing some of the gospel songs that Elvis sang on that video.

JONI: Oh, my goodness! This is like the best illustration I have ever heard of music therapy.

SHAUNA: Well, you know I never realized before then that Elvis was a speech therapist either. But evidently he is. So she has been singing along to Elvis ever since. She is 13 now and she has brought this to Family Retreat because there is a talent night and every time Sarah goes she dresses up in a Elvis outfit, grabs the microphone and she does an Elvis impersonation for the whole retreat.

JONI: Now this is amazing. She is able to sing lyrics that people can understand all because she was able to move from crying and screaming to words that were picked up through music. Well, Shauna, all this makes me think of Psalm 98 where it says, “Shout for joy to the Lord and burst into jubilant song with music” even if it is with Elvis Presley lyrics. Be sure to visit joniandfriends.org where you just have to watch this amazing little video of Sarah at Family Retreat doing her Elvis impersonation. You have to see it for yourself at joniradio.org. Shauna, thank you for coming on and sharing.

SHAUNA: Thank you, Joni.

© Joni and Friends

 

 

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