Therapeutic Music

“The most inspirational, transformative and inspiring school week of my 20 year career.”

Executive Head, RADIUS Special Education Trust


Therapeutic Music Week to Close the Gap

All children can benefit from the power of music

All children benefit from the power of music

For 15 years, therapeutic music specialist, Matthew Hemson, has been working with children and adults with additional needs, using music to enhance access to learning and wellbeing. Matthew has developed an intensive week-long programme delivered in-school alongside the school timetables, with significant results for staff and students alike. He is offering the programme to schools across the UK for 2016, and is keen to ensure that interested special schools get an ‘early-bird’ opportunity to book. We provide bespoke packages to meet every need and budget and specialise in working with children and young people with BESD and SEND.


In-School Music Week • Learner Engagement • Whole School & Cluster Approach • 1:1 & Groups • Measured Impact 


Participating schools report that positive, measurable impact has been significant in terms of:

• improved behaviour, concentration and learner engagement

• increased self worth, communication and peer support

• increased capacity to access to the curriculum


Examples of cross-curricular learning objectives: 

• to develop literacy skills – spellings, poetry, phonics, creative writing, structure and story writing

• to enhance language and communication skills

• to improvise and compose; and extend and develop musical ideas by drawing on a range of musical structures, genres and traditions

• to encourage teamwork, listening, turn-taking, respect, peer support, positive feedback techniques, creativity, innovation, musical expression & engagement (vocal & instrumental)

• to increase cross-curricula participation, engagement, learning and progress

• to help pupils process their thoughts and emotions within a unique, enabling environment


What do participants say about having a Therapeutic Music Week at their school?

• “It’s been brilliant. Matthew got them focused, purposeful and keen for more. Each pupil came back saying fabulous things.” (Headteacher – Grafham Grange School)

• “Behaviour and class engagement scores were our highest.” (Teacher – The Radius Trust)

• “Thank you for building up my confidence.”(Yr 9 Pupil)

• “Thank you for helping me express myself through music.” (Yr 10 Pupil)

• “The attitude and mood in residence and during the school day was so much better.” (Care Staff, Grafham Grange School)


“Research shows that quality music education improves behaviour, attention and concentration, and has a hugely positive effect on numeracy and language skills. Giving all young people the best possible music education will help the Government achieve its twin aim of driving up standards and reducing the attainment gap.

(A National Plan for Music Education, April 2012).

Matthew Hemson, Music Director and Therapeutic Intervention Specialist

Matthew Hemson

Matthew Hemson (BTh, BSc) is a consultant within the education and mental health sectors. He has extensive experience in working with organisations to co-create unique, enabling environments that foster outstanding academic and pro-social progress. Matthew is also a Play Therapist specialising in Music & Jungian Sandtray. He delivers training in Therapeutic Intervention Skills  and Values Led Community Engagement throughout the UK. He is a visiting lecturer at UWE.

For enquiries and to receive our “Music Week Integration Guide”

please contact Matthew Hemson, Director, on:

07974 351006 or


Therapeutic Music interventions included in the week:

The types of interventions used are rooted in creating a safe, enabling environment within which pupils can choose how to express themselves:

Therapeutic songwriting is a powerful way of helping children in need of additional support process any thoughts, emotions, life situations and conditions that may impede their current learning and pro-social journey. Pupils create their own words and music around a self chosen theme. Completed songs are recorded and kept for personal reflection or shared with a wider audience to celebrate each pupil’s achievement with others. The choice always remains with the child.


Peer support and/or group songwriting is for pupils who respond positively to the encouragement of others (e.g. a friend or member of staff) to help increase their confidence and experience of pro-social communication. It is also used for pupils in need of developing trust and positive team working experiences.


Performance Skills sessions focus on creating a safe, enabling environment for pupils to grow in confidence and communication skills when speaking or performing in public. Different styles of performing are explored within an ethos of mutual support, no pressure, and a lot of fun. Pupils may wish to perform their own song, or a song that is significant for them. Members of staff may wish to do the same.


Schools of Rock/Pop give the opportunity for pupils (and staff) to create music together as a band in any style chosen by the group. Instruments can be quickly taught and played offering the chance to grow in musical skill and confidence. From complete beginners to those with experience the focus is the same – working as a team, promoting a positive climate for learning, growing in positive feedback techniques and celebrating success in all its forms.


Music Production, Arrangement, Engineering & Mixing occurs every day for those interested in developing music production skills.


Impact and Evaluation


Schools that educate children with SEBD and SEND are highly skilled in creating high quality learning environments. Because of this, they are always very receptive to fostering a unique, enabling learning environment through a new, whole school approach to music.


As a typical music week progresses each school experiences the transformative effect of music to release gifts and talents in students (and staff) and bind the school community together through learning a new instrument, songwriting, peer support, enriched communication and cross curricular impact.


Students reactions to the musical opportunities available are significantly strong in their level of engagement, impact on their behaviour and approach to learning. They embrace the opportunity to create their own original words and music in order to explore new horizons in literacy, teamwork, peer support, confidence, self worth and respect. New talents are developed and latent gifts showcased. Examples of children’s measured impact are as follows:


“TMC explained that student behaviour and engagement would most likely continue to improve after the Music Week too. The points students received for engagement in lessons (which relates to behaviour and learning) in the week following came to the highest total this Term.”

(Speech and Language Therapist – RADIUS Special Education Trust)


Students are encouraged to score their own personal experience of the intervention alongside school staff. From a sample group of ten pupils, self evaluation scores are as follows:


52% showed improvement regarding their capacity to work in a group

80% experienced an increase in self worth

75% stated that their ability to concentrate had increased

50% said that their ability to express how they feel had risen

86% increase in capacity to learn new skills

64% improvement in capacity to speak/perform to an audience

(Grafham Grange School Nov 2015)


Staff engagement with a week of music is typically excellent. They immediately understand the impact the sessions have on whole school morale and fully embrace the weeks’ events. A highly rewarding aspect of the week is witnessing staff share their own musical skills and gifts with the children should they choose to do so. The result is a very positive dynamic in pupil-staff relationships created through the sharing of music.


Studies show the enormous and well documented cross-curricular benefits of music (as listed below) grow in direct proportion to the amount of musical opportunities available in the school. The students’ rapid growth in confidence, communication and team spirit is a result of having a new voice/medium through which to share their identity and to explore their gifts and talents.

Sample Music Week Timetable

We create a bespoke timetable for each school, to enrich the usual timetable and also to provide group and 1:1 sessions as appropriate. Click on the link below to see a sample timetable and get a flavour of the sessions and outcomes included within the week we spend at your school:


TIMETABLE – Music Week pdf


Excerpts from “The Importance of Music – A National Plan for Music Education, April 2012” focussing on impact:


41. Music can make a powerful contribution to the education and development of children, having benefits which range from those that are largely academic to the growth of social skills and contribution to overall development. It is a unique form of communication that can change the way pupils feel, think and act. OFSTED say that children’s involvement in music engages and re-engages pupils, increasing their self esteem, and maximising their progress in education and not just in music.


143. Research has shown a direct link between music and improved reading ability in children. It shows that pupils who were given certain types of music instruction had improved reading comprehension compared to those who did not. There is also evidence that music education can have a significant effect on the reading ability of pupils who had been experiencing difficulties; particularly teaching associated with rhythm. In addition, studies have shown that music instruction improved pupils’ ability to remember words and so improve their vocabulary, and also enhance language development.


144. Evidence also suggests a link between mathematics and music, but there needs to be a stronger match between the skills being used – for example some types of music education can encourage improvement in some elements of maths more effectively than others. Studies have also shown a connection between music and increased scores in IQ. In both cases it is rhythmic music training that has been shown to make the greatest improvement. Other studies have demonstrated a link between music and creative skills, particularly musical improvisation and lessons which require children to be imaginative.


145. A number of studies have demonstrated the positive impact music can have on personal and social development, including increased self reliance, confidence, self-esteem, sense of achievement and ability to relate to others.


146. Other studies have shown different benefits from participating in music groups and needing to work together towards a common goal, for example school bands. These include discipline, teamwork, cooperation, self-confidence, responsibility and social skills.


Working with us

If you are thinking about booking our services, we encourage you to give us a call, or send us an email. Each school is different and you will want to know how we will adapt to your particular needs and context. We are more than happy to answer your questions, and chat through your ideas about how we can help you make a difference for your students.

If you would like to meet us and see how we work with your staff and students, then we offer a Half Day Taster Session at your school, consisting of 3 hours of music sessions (1:1 and group) and a 1 hour development meeting between us and your team, to gain understanding together about how a week-long programme would look at your school.


For enquiries and to receive our “Music Week Integration Guide”

please contact Matthew Hemson, Director, on:

07974 351006 or