March 2014

“Nourishing body and soul”: a music therapy course for those who work with children with disabilities in Bethlehem

“Unfortunately, music therapy is still underappreciated; too often children with disabilities are seen solely as beings to be nourished and looked after. But it’s not enough to feed the body, the soul needs it too. Through music therapy, I discovered how to nourish the souls of these children, how to make a child with autism smile, and this is priceless.” These are the words of Noubar, a young worker in Bethlehem, organiser of a music therapy course for students and professionals who work with children with disabilities.

Music, sharing, pedagogy, and multi-disciplinary and intercultural exchange: this is what is explored in the course “You’ll find me in the sound”. This course was organised by the Francesco Realmonte ONLUS Association, in collaboration with the Catholic University in Milan in the person of Professor Dario Benatti – music therapist and music workshop teacher at the Catholic University in Milan, and Director and Professor of the music therapy course Musica Prima in Milan – and coordinated by ATS Pro Terra Sancta.

The course lasted 35 hours and took place in Bethlehem from 27 December to 3 January at the “Life Gate Rehabilitation center”, a training and welcome institute for people with disabilities.

18 students, of which 9 Italian and 9 from Bethlehem took part, and all were satisfied with the course, feeling enriched by the subject matter itself and by the opportunity to experiment with music and the arts in a diverse group. It proved to be the source of a whole range of colourful ideas, concepts, visions for life, musicality and creativity.

The idea is to use music as an instrument to break down barriers and as a basis for dialogue,” says Noubar. “Music therapy allows the idea of the unity of the person to be developed; children shouldn’t be seen only through the eyes of their disability, but as whole people, with their own vitality and personality which goes beyond their physical disability.”

Music is capable of having an effect on the human body, psyche and mind; it incorporates both science and art at the same time, ideal for communicating with children with disabilities. In recent years, the spread of music therapy has made it possible to give children with disabilities a better life, but it requires professional skill and specialisation.

Thus the need for a course for professionals and students in the fields of socio-education, health, psychology and music, with the aim of enriching professional skills and complementing them using music as a therapy.

“We must continue this experience, Noubar says, even if, unfortunately, these projects always suffer from funding problems at a time like this. We wish to thank the Francesco Realmonte Association and ATS pro Terra Sancta for having helped us to overcome these and we hope to continue along this road.”

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