Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between music lessons and music therapy?

You may not have heard about music therapy before. Music therapy is a relatively young profession in New Zealand, although it is well established in the UK, America and many other countries worldwide. Where music teachers assist students to learn musical skills, music therapists use music as a tool to support their clients’ growth and development. Areas of exploration tend to be non-musical, but might also relate to musical identity.

What training and skills do music therapists have?

Music therapists are skilled musicians who have also trained as health professionals to support a wide range of needs. In New Zealand, Registered Music Therapists hold a Master of Music Therapy degree (from the New Zealand School of Music or an overseas equivalent), are registered with Music Therapy New Zealand and hold a current practising certificate. If you are interested in finding out about how to train as a music therapist, have a look at the Music Therapy New Zealand or NZSM websites.

Where are you based?

The Little Musical Caravan is based in Porirua. We have a fixed therapy space at Mana Therapy Hub (116 Mana Esplanade, Porirua) and our Little Musical Caravan travels to local pre-schools and primary schools to provide music therapy services.* We can also travel to homes and other community settings. To set up the caravan, we need a relatively level space to park with access to electricity, as well as space to manoeuvre.

*Please get in touch if you live in the Greater Wellington region or on the Kāpiti coast. Depending on demand, we may be able to offer music therapy in your area.

What is involved?

Music therapy sessions usually last for half an hour and take place weekly at your child’s school or other setting during school hours. Where appropriate we will liaise with your child’s teacher to include peer(s) in sessions. Whilst music making is clearly an important part of sessions, the focus is generally on supporting non-musical areas rather than the acquisition of musical knowledge. Music therapy may be required for only a short time, or for a longer time depending on your child’s needs. Sessions are child-led and follow your child’s interests and strengths.

Do I need a referral?

Referrals are always welcome, but a referral from another health professional or educator is not necessary to access music therapy services. Wherever possible we like to work closely with a child’s wider support team. Your child does not need to have a formal diagnosis or identified learning needs, but if you have this information it would give us useful background information to better understand their needs.

What are assessments and reviews?

Before starting work with your child, we will do a music therapy assessment. This is so that we can get to know your child and their musical preferences, and observe how they interact with the therapist and with others. Usually an assessment involves 3 or 4 child-centred music therapy sessions. We may also include a classroom observation, and at the end of the assessment period we will prepare a written report. We will then indicate whether music therapy would be beneficial for your child, which therapist will be a good match for them, and what areas might be useful to focus on.

Reviews are carried out regularly – on a termly basis or more frequently if necessary. If your child has an IEP or IP, we can contribute to or attend review meetings, depending on our availability. This will give us a broader view of your child’s progress and it is very beneficial to integrate music therapy with the goals of the wider team. 

At the end of each school year, or when music therapy comes to a planned conclusion, we will produce a further written report outlining progress.

The cost of the initial music therapy assessment is outlined below. Informal reviews, up to two IEP or IP meetings (in Porirua), end of year and closure reports are included in the price of regular music therapy sessions. The cost for additional written reports, additional meetings and travel will be discussed in advance.

What about cancellations?

Please give as much notice as possible if your child is unable to attend a session. Where less than 24 hours’ notice is given we will charge you for the session. If we are unable to run a session due to conflicting personal or professional commitments or due to sickness, we will give you as much notice as we can. If we have to cancel a session, there will be no charge.

What should I do if my child is sick?

If your child is sick, please keep them at home! The Ministry of Health has guidelines on when to send your child to school, but whilst the risk of COVID remains, the advice is to keep your child at home even with common cold symptoms, such as sore throat, cough or runny nose.

If your child arrives at school or to a session with symptoms of illness (including coughing and sneezing) we will cancel their session and there will be a charge for this. Similarly, if we get no notice that your child is absent, there will be a charge.

What are your COVID precautions?

Whilst the COVID pandemic is now largely considered endemic, COVID infections or reinfections can still have some very serious consequences for certain groups of people: Those with Long Covid, ME/ CFS, those who are immunocompromised at otherwise at high risk. We work with a number of vulnerable clients, we have family members in these high risk groups and one of our therapists is recovering from Long Covid. What might be a minor cold for one person can have really serious consequences for someone else. So we take our COVID precautions seriously.

As part of our registration process we will ask whether your child or anyone in your child’s immediate family are at high risk. If you answer yes, we will put things in place to protect them.

There is currently no government framework in place to manage the risk of COVID within our communities, but we use the following protocols to reduce the risk to ourselves, our tamariki and our own whānau:

  • PLEASE keep your child away from music therapy if they are unwell.
  • Use of hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the caravan is encouraged.
  • The caravan is ventilated during and between sessions.
  • Instruments and surfaces are cleaned regularly. If any item has been in a child’s mouth, it is thoroughly washed.
  • Mask wearing is optional for therapists and participants from Year 4 and up.

We review our protocols regularly and will update them in line with any further government mandates.

How much does it cost?

There is a considerable amount of non-contact time involved in music therapy work, with weekly preparation and note-taking as well as regular reviews. Our fees reflect this additional time.

Payment for music therapy assessments is due in advance. For ongoing music therapy sessions after the assessment period, statements are sent out at the end of each calendar month. Payment is due within 14 days. Alternatively, payment can be spread by setting up an Automatic Payment or by manual instalments, but please get in touch to arrange this. There will be an administration fee if it is necessary to investigate unpaid invoices. If you are in financial difficulties please get in touch; we don’t want cost to be a barrier to accessing music therapy services.

Music therapy assessment: $450 + GST (3 sessions, 1 classroom observation and a written report)

Fees per music therapy session: $85.00 + GST for half an hour. This fee includes non-contact time for preparation and note taking.

Travel: If we are not already in your school or area delivering music therapy services, there will be a charge to cover travel costs. Please contact us for a quotation for travel.

School group sessions, consultations and workshops: Prices vary depending on your requirements. Again, please contact us for a quotation.