Musical Play as Therapy in an Early Intervention Programme – Julie Wylie & Susan Foster-Cohen

Τεύχος 5 (1) 2013 – Article

Full text [PDF]

Musical Play as Therapy in an Early Intervention Programme

Julie Wylie & Susan Foster-Cohen



Effective therapeutic use of music for very young children with multi-system developmental disabilities involves engaging them and their parents/caregivers in musical play activities that can regulate the children’s (and parents’) physiological systems, strengthen parent-child relationships, and open children’s minds to physical, social emotional and intellectual learning and development; both in the context of music therapy and in response to goals set by a multi-disciplinary team. This article, based on a presentation given at the ISME conference in Greece in 2012, describes the therapy programmes at the Champion Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand and presents four case studies designed to illustrate the type and range of activities that have been shown to be effective over twenty years of experience. They show how when music practitioners follow the child’s lead, and draw the parents into the interaction as full partners, the well-being of children is enhanced and their parents are encouraged to engage in similar activities at home, thereby extending music’s therapeutic  reach and effectiveness.


physiological regulation; wellbeing; prematurity; Down syndrome; autistic spectrum disorders (ASD); sensory; multi-disciplinary team


Julie Wylie founded the New Zealand Musical Parenting Association Inc. twenty two years ago. She is the senior music specialist at the Champion Centre, at Burwood Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand. Julie has been invited to many countries to present music workshops and papers including Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia, UK, Lithuania, Finland and Estonia. She has received awards for her music leadership and her music resources have won international awards. Julie also has her own music school for mothers and babies, and children 0-8 years.



Susan Foster-Cohen has a PhD in Linguistics and Psychology from Lancaster University (UK) with a specialism in children’s early language development. She has taught in universities in the UK, USA, France and New Zealand and has been the director of The Champion Centre since 2004. Susan’s research work focuses on the developmental trajectories of children with complex disabilities and on the longer term consequences of premature birth.