Using Music to Address Social Skill Development in Children with Special Needs: A Video Course Review

Using Music to Address Social Skill Development in Children with Special Needs- A Video Course ReviewIn this post, I share a review of The Rhythm Tree’s Ryan Judd’s Study-at-Home Video Course: Using Music to Address Social Skill Development in Children with Special Needs. This is not a paid review nor am I an affiliate. In fact, I loved this course so much, I approached Ryan myself about writing a review.

I was first attracted to this video course because Ryan, a board certified music therapist, offers many free and valuable videos on his site regarding music therapy for the child with special needs. The topic of social skills in relation to music peeked my curiosity, so I invested in the video course without hesitation. I was not disappointed.

I began by printing out the 9-page PDF workbook that accompanies the video as it takes you through:

  • why to use music with children with special needs
  • a list of point-form social skills songs and related musical activities
  • suggestions for writing musical social stories using familiar melodies

I also downloaded the rich 31-page PDF Songbook that includes music song sheets with lyrics linked to specific therapeutic goals and adapted strategies. Ryan offers a glossary of terms so that you don’t have to waste time looking up musical and therapeutic jargon.

The video course itself is excellent. Ryan’s friendly, motivating, and easy-to-implement approach makes taking this course a complete pleasure. He goes from explaining the activity to showing the songs and techniques used with his little clients.

Getting an inside peek at Ryan working with his clients allows you to pick up additional techniques as you watch him in action. For instance, you get a real sense of how important it is to wait for the child to respond rather than jumping in to answer for him — which is the natural tendency for adults. You cannot learn that kind of strategy through reading alone. Ryan allows you to experience it through his gentle, caring but effective interactions with children.

This is an excerpt from the course:

Since social contact does not mean it needs to be practiced in a group, Ryan’s demonstrations depict how social skills are actually best developed when one-to-one with a child with special needs. Since there is no threat of ridicule or shame, a child working directly with an adult is much more willing to participate in the music/ social activities.

In addition to targeting developmental skills such as music, fine and gross motor skills, the video course teaches you how to build these social skills with your child:

  • Greetings and farewells
  • Impulse Control
  • Eye Contact
  • Turn-taking
  • Sharing
  • Transitions
  • Social anxiety
  • Behavioral challenges
  • Group Play
  • Joint Attention
  • Imitation
  • Following Directions
  • Sustained Attention to an Activity
  • Identification of emotions

Once you have completed viewing the course, you can download his CD with all of the songs (which you have access to immediately) so that you can get started right away. You will find over time that you won’t even need the notes because as you learn the songs, you will remember the strategies that go along with them.

This video course is complete enough to be used as your homeschool music program for any period of time. You can use it for one quarter, or for an entire year. You can go at your child’s pace, but it also inspires you to add and adapt other types of musical activities in the same way that Ryan trains you. Even if your child is older or is at a higher cognitive functioning than the children in the video clips, this course can be used as a springboard for meeting your child’s music and social needs.

What’s included in the video course?

  • 30-day access to a 1 hour, 10 minute long video full of great songs, techniques and activities
  • An easy-to-read workbook with all of the lyrics, songs, resources, and goals from the video
  • Bonus Rhythm Tree CD download
  • Bonus PDF download of Ryan’s award-winning songbook for special needs

This course is aimed at parents, educators and therapists. No musical abilities are required.

I encourage you to visit Ryan’s site to purchase this video course. It’s generously priced at $29.95 USD. Ryan is very approachable after the purchase as well. If you have any questions, he replies in a timely manner. And, the bonus is, once the course is over, you can get more of Ryan’s teachings in his video blog on his site.

Ryan-Judd-Music-TherapistAbout the course creator:

Ryan Judd is a board certified music therapist. He has a master’s degree in Music Therapy and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with an emphasis on Child Development. He has been working as a music therapist with individuals with special needs for more than 14 years. In addition to working one on one with clients, Ryan also leads groups focused on the development of social skills.  His services are available in Southern New Hampshire.  He lives in the Seacoast region with his wife who is a 1st grade teacher. You can find him at



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