Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

September 4, 2012

Music therapy comes to College Street

By TYLER THOMPSON
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — The Barren County College Street Campus can now add music to the long list of services it provides.

The alternative school is starting an after school music therapy program, which is scheduled to begin Thursday, Sept. 13, and students will participate in the program each subsequent Thursday.

The program will utilize the different elements of music, something Director Dan Belding said will help promote self-esteem and give an identity to the students.

“We can have up to 87 students in the building, but normally we have about 50 to 70, depending on what time of year it is,” he said.

The program was the brainchild of marriage and family therapist Randy Rush, who approached Belding about starting the program.

Rush, who has played drums since 1975, said he enjoys the interaction he gets from teaching music to kids, whether it’s theory-based or technique.

“I’ve been working with kids on music for about as long as I’ve been a therapist,” he said. “I ran a day treatment in Edmonton and we tried bringing in the drums into a group setting.”

Day treatment programs provide intensive counseling services to children, Rush said.

“We just saw a really big increase in self-esteem and awareness,” he said. “It teaches them how to channel frustration. This is a way to get across to the kids.”

There are many benefits to group teaching, including music therapy, Rush said.

“This is a good way to get across to the kids,” he said. “At the same time I was doing group teaching through 21st Century programs like at Austin Tracy and Metcalfe County Middle School, I found that group teaching seems to aid in developing self-esteem. Music therapy is really growing. It helps with the kids’ listening skills and self awareness. I think it helps them channel anger and aggression.”

Belding said the program would not be possible without the assistance of Rush.

“He wanted to volunteer to do a music therapy program based on drums and percussion,” Belding said. “He has a background as a musician, but he’s also been in this area for a long time as a counselor and therapist. I’ve known him for several years, and there is a lot of research that is out on music therapy.”

Belding said the students will learn much more than notes and time signature.

“It helps students by building self-esteem and fine and gross motor skills, especially percussion, as well as hand-eye coordination,” he said. “But it can also help with attention, allowing young people to learn how to deal with frustration.”

Overcoming frustrations will lead to a more academically sound student, Belding said.

“If our students can learn how to deal with their own frustrations better, then they will be a more productive student,” he said. “It will build self-esteem, help them to focus and to have better attention, as well as learning to work through the frustrations of being a student.”

The school has students from backgrounds ranging from one-parent homes to foster care, and Belding said students, once they arrive at the school, feel at home.

“They just seem to fit in here,” he said. “We have a great atmosphere here and we have a great staff, but we are always looking to get better. We’re always looking for ways to meet the needs of the students.”

Creating a safe atmosphere is pivotal when instituting new programs, according to Belding.

“We have a great deal of supervision in this building,” he said. “Because of our structure and routine, students very much respond to the structure. They know where they are suppose to be, what they are suppose to do and how they are suppose to do it. They are supervised the entire time they are here.”

Belding said the music program, much like the classes, will be successful because of the relationships that are built.

“I try to say something to every student every day,” he said. “We build these relationships that many, many of these students have never had before. They’ve never had a teacher pay attention to them before. A lot of these kids have not had that positive attention.”

Instituting another positive element at the school will lead to more student success.

“The success here, I truly believe, is based on the positives that we’ll be able to bring into these students’ lives,” Belding said.