In music therapy the unique qualities of music are used by a registered music therapist to establish a connection with a client or child. A trusting relationship develops where they can create music together and facilitate physical, social, and emotional well-being.

The sessions are led by the child, and the therapist responds to them by singing and playing instruments in an improvised way. The child is able to choose what to play and how to play, and soon realises that they can initiate and feel listened to. Music therapy provides a safe space where a child can express themselves without any interruptions, at the same time and day each week. Sessions are usually for 20 minutes and are held in the music room at school. A child may be referred for individual or group therapy.


  • To help the child work through emotional difficulties, such as anger or bereavement.
  • To support the child with behavioural problems.
  • To develop skills in interpersonal relating and playing.
  • To develop the child’s ability to communicate – both verbally and non-verbally.
  • To develop concentration and remain focused.
  • To develop social skills such as the ability to wait, share, turn-take, and express themselves.
  • To increase self-confidence and self-esteem.


Music therapy may be recommended by staff at school. Parents may also request music therapy. A referral form needs to be completed by the child’s teacher. Forms are available from Reception or from our music therapist, Debbie Mellors. She has regular meetings with Megan Burden, Deputy Head Teacher, to discuss these referrals and to decide who to work with. All the names are kept on a waiting list and each child will be offered music therapy at some point in their time at school. We like to offer it for one year, sometimes longer, depending on the needs of the child. A report is written at the end of the therapy, and regular verbal feedback is given to staff.


Funding has been entirely donated by charitable organisations since music therapy started here in 2005. The Friends of Shepherds Down have been very generous, and large donations have also been received from the Pilgrim’s School, and from Jessie’s Fund. We appreciate all our sponsors for their commitment to on-going music therapy here.

The therapist is provided by the charity Key Changes Music Therapy. This is a local charity based in Winchester, registered charity no : 1124102. All Key Changes music therapists are fully DBS checked and registered with the Health Professions Council.

Further information can be found at www.keychanges.org

Music therapy is also available privately at Shepherds Down after school hours. Please contact staff at Key Changes by e-mailing info@keychanges.org or by phoning 01962 842269