Music Therapy expected to grow in the Illawarra

The research evidence is clear –

Music therapy can help people with their mental health and wellbeing, communication and social skills, body movement and coordination, memory and cognitive function and even helping to improve the body’s ability to deal with pain.

“It is a strength-based therapeutic tool that is safe, comforting, uplifting and motivating for people”

Ann Lehmann-Kuit

WollCon Music Therapist

As an NDIS provider of Music Therapy since 2020 WollCon is currently supporting over 40 clients in the Illawarra. In the sessions, music is used to actively support people of all ages to manage their physical and mental health and enhance their quality of life.

“Music Therapists at WollCon use their training and musical ability to facilitate interactive musical experiences to help our clients achieve their goals such as improved communication, cognition, physical function, mood, and social engagement. In music therapy sessions we provide opportunities to explore strengths, experience joy and mastery and build expressive confidence to use music as a resource in everyday life,” says Ann Lehmann-Kuit who has twenty years’ experience working as a music therapist at WollCon.

“We work with many neurodivergent children, adolescents and adults, engaging in active music making experiences that focus on strengths rather than deficits. By utilising the rhythmic, melodic and expressive components of music we highlight developmental potentials that can build a positive sense of identity.”

Ann Lehmann-Kuit

The initiative aligns with WollCon’s mission, ‘positive change through music,’ and is a service which is expected to attract more clients in the new year.

“We know from our contacts in health-care that there are many people living in the Illawarra who could benefit enormously from music therapy. We’re one of the few conservatoriums in NSW to offer Music Therapy as part of an NDIS plan and every client receives a music program which supports their particular needs. Our team of five registered music therapists are incredibly skilled and committed to this truly transformative way of using music to enrich lives. We are all excited to see this program develop.” Said CEO David Francis.

One of WollCon’s music therapists Harry Tregilgas believes everyone should have access to music.

“In my opinion it is really important to be a diverse and inclusive organisation. We have music therapy sessions for children as either individual or group lessons, where we can teach clients with a disability in a supported way that plays to their strengths, so they are able to learn at their own pace.”

Harry Tregilgas

The Rockers alongside Music Industry collaborators

“Early intervention for young children is growing as an important area of support for families,” says WollCon’s ChiME (early childhood music) Coordinator, Janet Andrews who is also a music therapist, supporting WollCon ChiME teachers to include many children with additional needs in their classes. Janet is also aiming to expand ChiME, offering smaller group sessions to those families who may be unable to access mainstream classes.

WollCon music therapy clients also include the elderly where the focus is on enhancing their quality of life. The weekly music lesson or therapy session provides them with some routine in their day and enhances their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as motor skills and memory.

“I have an elderly client that comes to WollCon from her aged care group home. She thrives off the routine of getting out and coming to music therapy, especially with increased isolation due to Covid-19. She loves listening and playing or singing along to her favourite songs and making choices over instruments to play. This increases her quality of life and reduces her irritability post session. She really has come a long way since she started,” said Harry.

The staff at WollCon provide opportunities for music therapy clients to engage with the wider community through performance. A success story of WollCon’s music therapy program is the experimental rock band The Rockers, who have been performing gigs in the community for fifteen years, including at the University of Wollongong’s UniBar.

“At our end-of-year open days, clients are given the opportunity to perform their favourite songs, including original songs they have written, showcasing their musical abilities. It is not only a confidence building exercise for the clients, but it brings much joy to parents, friends and all present.” Said Ann Lehmann-Kuit.

If you are interested in Music Therapy at WollCon, enrolments are accepted throughout the year.