contact niki at nikischomasmusic@gmail.com

ImaGine

06/19/2013

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      I was the kid who knew every song on the radio.  My astute father, my songwriting mentor, once firmly stated, “Now imagine if those lyrics meant something.  Imagine if they could be useful”.

      In my adult life I found myself staring at the beautiful face of a child with autism, who had a lot of strengths, and a lot of struggles.  While his disability has impacted him socially, his love of music and ability to reproduce songs is amazing.  He was my first social-skills student.  As I began to write songs that would help speak to his deficit areas, they began to write themselves into the scripts of his life that have helped him begin to overcome inherent obstacles relative to his disability.  For example, my son’s expressive language is greatly impacted by his autism.  Furthermore, when any child or individual is in an emotionally challenging state, language retrieval feels impossible, and accessing frontal lobe reasoning to problem solve through situations is difficult.  However, during emotionally challenging times, my son has repeatedly and without prompting stated the lyrics of my songs aloud, talking himself through situations, specifically utilizing and quoting strategies he learned within the context of the songs.  Providing an educated explanation regarding the neurological ability of the brain to retrieve rote information and apply it at critical times is beyond my area of expertise.  I am a mom, a special education teacher, a musician, and most would say a wanna-be-social worker.  I wrote the music because nothing existed that I could tolerate, but all I really needed to do for my son was to push play on the cd player in my minivan and drive around.  As a special education teacher, I implemented the music in a similar fashion, and the results of my students were consistent;  it worked.

      And now as “Beautiful You” is being recognized as a valuable tool for all children, regardless of age, grade, or ability level, I find myself inspired by their need, and determined to write more music that will help them navigate a socially complex world.  I want the music to be what people need it to be.  Some will implement the music by simply making it available.  They will push play and drive around in the family car, just like I did.  Other parents and providers will be more systematic in their delivery of instruction, and will spend time teaching each song to their student, client, or child in a methodical way.  Systematic instruction of social skills is best practice, but let’s be honest, most parents and providers need a little help.  That’s where the music, in my experience, has been one of the easiest therapeutic tools for my son and my students.  I just needed to make the music available to help them, specifically in my absence.   I needed to provide them with a tool that would help them when I could not be there.  

      Currently, I am the adult who only listens to contemporary music in an effort to stay current with trends.  What is the point of writing social skills music unless it is consistent with other music deemed socially appropriate by children and adults alike?  And I leave my readers with the question my beloved father asked me so many years ago... “Now imagine if those lyrics meant something.  Imagine if they could be useful.”  

     Thanks for taking the time to read this article.  The music is available for preview or purchase at nikischomasmusic.com.  



 


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