Music therapy softens ailments

Catherine Boni has opera performed by autistic singers. Pilar Garcia leads a singing workshop for patients suffering from Alzheimer's. And both find it: the results can be impressive! The benefits of music therapy are real and accessible to all.

Charline Delafontaine

Autism: when words are missing, they are singing

"When I started teaching singing to children with autism in IME [medical-educational institutes, ed], I was taught retorted: "Autistic people do not communicate!" "relates Catherine Boni. It was fifteen years ago. Five years later, the lyric singer created the Les Vives Voix choir, bringing together both verbal and non-verbal autistic singers from specialized institutions and their supervisors: educators, teachers, psychologists ... "Let's calm down!" She cries. Every week, the choristers perform excerpts from operas, from Mozart to Verdi ... in a joyful bustle, accompanied by a pianist, a percussionist and an accordionist. "They feel the pleasure of music very powerfully, says Catherine Boni. channel their energy, their emotions, and help them contain their stereotypies, such as autistic swinging. "

Some sing loudly or in a low voice, others hum or intone the melodies" in their head "... No matter ! "Their presence in the choir is just as important, it allows them to come out of their bubble, and all faces are flourished," observes the opera singer. "Some young people do not speak but manage to sing, sometimes after several years, it's impressive, "remarked Christophe Pouilles, a clinical psychologist, recalling the case of a young boy who, during the sessions, had unveiled an" extraordinary "tenor voice. when we believe that there is none, to bring these young people to hold a sound ... for a pedagogue of the voice, it is fascinating! The voice, it is the deep intimacy of the being. to deliver completely, a singer must trust you ... "It takes time," says Catherine Boni, who likes to define herself as a "birth attendant."

Singing to improve the speech of those who suffer from mental disorders. This therapy is used in speech therapy for people s with stuttering and opening up to other areas, such as language disorders following stroke or disability, including autism. " For many young people with autism, this vocal work has improved their pronunciation, their articulation, ensures Christophe Puglia. Some had a hard time making themselves understood and shut up. They are now able to communicate better."

Child, Garance did not fall asleep without a lullaby, and not just any! She asked to" listen to Haendel. "Now 20, she suffers from autistic disorders. At the age of three, she joined Les Vives Voix and for a long time she sang in a low voice ... A diligent student, she has come a long way and is now singing right. " Early on, music played an important role in the life of our daughter, testify Scarlett and Philippe 1 , her parents. For her, it is a way to appease, but also to express oneself and to feel satisfaction. To integrate this choir allowed him to carry out an educational and relational work very beneficial for us everyday. She listens more to others, waiting for her turn to speak ... "

" The singing workshops are fully part of a pedagogical, educational and therapeutic approach, confirms Christophe Pouilles. They may have benefits on many autistic symptoms: behavior, concentration, socialization and communication disorders. "For ten years, Les Vives Voix has been performing at concerts and festivals." We were far from imagining that some participants would be able to sing in public, recalls the psychologist. All sing together to give and take pleasure. The exchange with the audience, the applause ... it's the return of the investment that they have provided. "" We were upset by the technical result and the dignity of the people on stage, chase the parents of Garance, recalling their interpretation of La Traviata. Thanks to the music, our daughter lives real moments of happiness! "

1. Scarlett and Philippe Reliquet, authors of Listen to Haendel (Gallimard).

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