Dr. Demian Kogutek came to the Vernon Community Music School this month to present a Masterclass on Music Therapy, as part of our Masterclass Series for the 2021-22 school year. He focused on Music Therapy and the benefits of it relating to improved motor skills and neurological functioning for developmentally disabled students as well as for those students who want to start a career in the Musical Therapy field. Dr. Kogutek is an accredited Musical Therapist and Supervisor experienced with a variety of populations. He is an accomplished classical guitarist, and extensively trained in percussion, voice, piano, bass guitar, theory and recording. His research and teaching area of interest is motor improvement in neurological rehabilitation through client’s active use of musical instruments.
Dr. Kogutek’s presentation touched on the Musician’s Brain. He discussed how musicians have larger cerebellums than non-musicians, and an increased concentration of gray matter. This is particularly true for musicians who began their training early. He went on to say that there may also be a cluster of genes that work together to create the component skills that one must have to become a successful musician; good eye-hand coordination, muscle control, motor control, tenacity and patience, memory for certain kinds of structures and patterns, and a sense of rhythm and timing.
When discussing how music therapy helps people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder his point was that for people with ASD, the hearing and language disorders are predominately expressed as sensitive hearing which is exhibited by closing the ears, anger, crying, irritation and throwing objects while hearing certain noises. Sensory processing deficits typically manifest as hyper or hypo-reactivity to sensory input such as sensory-seeking or sensory-avoiding behaviours. Rhythmicity plays a vital role in development and timing is critical in motor control and cognitive functions. Synchrony and imitation can be introduced to induce and enhance social and behavioural skills in children with ASD. Rhythmic entrainment methods connect an individual with their own body rhythm and also connect them nonverbally with other individuals.
12 people came out to participate, and at the end there was a drum circle. During the drum circle it was discussed about how people who claim to not be musical at all can participate and still feel like they are contributing. It felt freeing to play any rhythm or note on the xylophone without any perimeters or having to work within a specific box.
Thank you so much, Dr. Kogutek, for taking the time to visit our Music School. Your information was invaluable, and we extend an open invitation for you to present at future Masterclasses.