An interdisciplinary approach (music therapy, neuroscience) was adopted for the development of postgraduate continuing education modules for educators (teachers of any subjects or SENCOs) working with young people with adverse life events. The goals of this project, funded by an Erasmus+ EU grant, were to guide educators in the use of therapeutic music in the classroom, conducting neuroscience-informed enquiries on these techniques, and encourage reflection on their teaching practice. Educators were given guidance in using music therapeutically as well as material outlining current research on music and the brain. This crucially laid the foundation for ‘why’ arts-based approaches can be used to support young people. Effects of trauma were considered by highlighting studies finding that early adverse experiences can lead to dysregulation of the stress response, hyperactivation of the amygdala and reduced activation in areas of the prefrontal cortex which could lead to a heightened fear response and deficits in emotion regulation, self-regulation, and executive functions (e.g., Park et al., 2018; Tottenham & Galvan, 2016). Therefore, the amygdala-prefrontal cortex system presents itself as an ideal target for interventions with young people. Educators developed neuroscience-informed enquiries involving a creative approach in their classrooms. Reflecting on the impact of these approaches using measures of emotion, self-regulation and executive functions pre- and post- interventions educators reported positive outcomes overall. They stated that this evidence-based interdisciplinary approach, in relation to neuroscience thinking and therapeutic models, strengthened their professional practice.
Zook, N., Warner, C., & Bunt, L. (2020, May). A neuroscience-informed approach equipping educators to support young learners affected by trauma through music in the classroom. Poster presented at Brain Cognition, Emotion, Music (BCEM), University of Kent (Online)